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Part one Read this facing North is here

Hunting the Snark: More On The Strange Audio World Of Peter W. Belt

When the men in white coats finally come to take me away, the psychiatric report will read as follows:

"The patient is a retired man who still does part-time work reviewing classical music. When interviewed at his home, he was affable enough but asked us to wait while he completed some adjustments to his stereo system. We observed him methodically taping a picture of a dog, a small rectangle of white paper with five pinholes in it and an aspirin tablet to the top panels of each of his loudspeakers. When asked why he was doing this, he simply smiled knowingly and said, ‘Listen to the sound.’

The patient’s wife said this was typical of his behaviour over the past few weeks. He had dismantled their expensive amplifiers and CD player, had smeared a mysterious white cream over their inner surfaces and had also attached small pieces of metal foils to the equipment’s cases. Although all of this was done quite safely apparently, the patient consistently refused to explain his reasoning to us, saying only that we wouldn’t believe him if he told us. His wife added that she had been required to spend more and more of her time listening repeatedly to the same small selection of discs for comparative purposes, and when the patient had insisted on putting two photographs of himself (a current one and another from his childhood) into the freezer compartment of their domestic fridge, she had decided to seek help….."

 

In a previous MusicWeb article (Click Here) I described how three products from Peter Belt’s company, PWB Electronics in Leeds, UK had dramatically enhanced the sound from my audio system, with particularly spectacular effects on a cheap white-goods store DVD machine. My most recent experiments with Belt ‘treatments’ have yielded even stranger results, and have forced me to think hard about my knowledge of physics. As you read this, you really will need to suspend your disbelief one again, at the very least temporarily.

The theory behind early Belt devices was that ‘electronic smog’ (in the form of unremarked but adverse electromagnetic fields) affected human perceptions of the performance of hi-fi equipment. Clear this up, the reasoning said, and better sound reproduction would result from quite expensive components. Since even the physical spinning of a CD could generate electronic pollution apparently, then fixing this by applying small pieces of permanently charged metal foil to the discs was one of the things that would do the trick. So far so good.

In a similar fashion, two other permanently charged PWB Electronics products, ‘Cream Electret’ and ‘Spiratube,’ both seemed to produce beneficial effects when applied to audio equipment and to cabling, and these effects were substantially enhanced by subsequently freezing both the audio leads and the foil-treated CDs. No great difficulty there either, at least on the face of it: somehow (although exactly why freezing was effective remained unexplained) these simple treatments were doing something useful and common sense said that a physical explanation for the effects would be found eventually.

What did remain a puzzle though was that according to Peter Belt, one of the charged foil strips used to treat CDs had to be placed in a very specific location – over the ‘Compact Disc’ logo that appears on all commercial discs, to be precise. And unless this was done exactly, the perceived benefits to the sound did not occur. Why ever not? If the printing on discs was generating spurious electromagnetism, then either all of the print should be covered with the charged foil, or else the specific placement of the foil strips should make no great difference. But the placement of the foil really did affect the result, which means that something additional to the ‘smog’ theory must be at work on CDs to produce the benefits. Peter and May Belt’s ideas about what this seem so outlandish though, that I need to describe two more experiments before discussing the Belts explanations. And I warn you in advance, that if the last lot of experiments seemed fairly odd to you, these are like something out of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting Of The Snark.

Hunting the Snark Part 1: Freezing Your Photographs

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair. "

Fit the First. Choose two photographs of yourself, a current one and another taken when you were much younger, place them in separate sealed plain polythene bags and store them inside the freezer compartment of your domestic fridge. Listen to your audio system playing (the source of the music doesn’t matter) and decide if the sound has improved. If unsure whether this is the case, remove the photographs and their containers from the fridge and you will hear the sound deteriorate markedly. And so will anyone else present at the time.

Fit the Second. Remove the photos and their bags from the fridge. Take a standard red fine-point permanent Staedtler Lumocolour pen (No 313) and write 'x 26 'x (the dashes are important) on both sides of each of the bags containing your photographs.

Fit the Third. Take a domestic flashlight, remove its batteries and with the same red pen write 'x 26 'x on each of them. Replace the batteries in the flashlight.

Fit the Fourth. Using the red pen, write 'x 26 'x on a CD’s printed side and also on the outside of its plastic storage case. Take your domestic flashlight and shine the beam for a few seconds on the written 'x 26 'x markings on the bags containing your photographs and then to the markings on the CD and its case. Replace the photographs in the freezer and play the CD. The sound will again have improved considerably, even if the whole idea seems as mad as apple crumble to you.

Fit the Fifth. Apply Step Four ad lib by sticking marked labels to your audio equipment, more CDs, tapes and to the disc labels (both sides) and to the sleeves of your long-playing records as well as to any other batteries that may be to hand (in remote controls etc.)

Fit the Sixth. If by this time, you are absolutely sure that you are Doing The Right Thing, then proceed to the next experiment.

Hunting the Snark Part 2: Aspirins For Your Speakers

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."

 In my last article, I mentioned a new free Belt ‘device,’ a small rectangle of white paper (pin-pricked with small holes in each corner and another at the intersection of the diagonals) but have now taken its use a step or two further. When the pin-pricked rectangle was applied to the wood of one of my loudspeakers, it initially changed the perceived sound of the whole audio system for the better. But the next Belt-induced steps really are Snark-like because the benefits are enhanced even further by a) placing a picture / photograph of a four legged animal with a tail underneath the paper rectangle and then b) placing a single common-or-garden aspirin tablet of all things over the rectangle's centre pin-prick. There is no doubt in either my mind or my wife’s that this extraordinary process did make a perceptible difference to overall performance of our home audio system, even though the Belts’ explanation for it does take a fair amount grappling with…well, for me at least.

"The method employed I would gladly explain,
While I have it so clear in my head,
If I had but the time and you had but the brain--
But much yet remains to be said.

"In one moment I've seen, what has hitherto been
Enveloped in absolute mystery,
And without extra charge I will give you at large
A Lesson in Natural History."
…. So here we go.

Current Theories: Electromagnetism and Morphic Fields

"There was also a Beaver that paced on the deck,
Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
Though none of the sailors knew how."

 

Electromagnetism / Quantum Mechanics

Please accept for the moment that while it is true that I sometimes write April Fools for MusicWeb, I am making none of this up nor am I in the pay of PWB Electronics. It is simply the case that both of these bizarre experiments really have added to the improvements which my audio system gained from my first round of ‘Belting.’ Strictly speaking, I ought to say that the experiments have improved my perceptions of the system’s sound, because according to Peter Belt and his wife May, the system has not changed at all. Instead, what has happened is that the Belts’ peculiar ‘treatments’ have cleared up more of the ‘muddle’ that previously impaired my capacity to hear the system’s true capabilities.

The Belts maintain that even modest hi-fi equipment delivers much more information than we can normally perceive and the spectacular improvements to the sound from the £25 DVD player that I reported last time, are certainly some kind of witness to that. Having said this though, the inference that more expensive equipment is a complete waste of money would be incorrect, since my Primare DVD30 is still superior to the £25 machine. On the strength of the fact that the sound from the Primare appears to have improved also, it really does seem that there are factors at work in most listening environments which impair appreciation of what any audio component can really do.

In an article called ‘What a Mess!! An alternative view of reality’ published on the PWB website (Click Here) May Belt writes:

"Every day, technology is producing astronomical numbers of objects that seriously impair the senses and our well-being. We have, yet again, constructed a number of experiments that require virtually no financial outlay, yet are capable of exposing an invisible technological pollution which is extremely harmful to all human beings…Simple everyday objects such as batteries, magnets, photographs and the very music recordings that we attempt to replay all conspire to seriously impair our senses. To understand this problem, it is necessary to realise the very basis upon which nature evolved the senses. Within each and all living creatures, there is an attempt to maintain an inner symmetrical pattern. The senses all measure the degree of asymmetrical energy patterns exterior to the body and compare the external asymmetrical energy patterns against the internal symmetrical energy patterns. Modern science and technology has surrounded each individual with innumerable objects which have asymmetric energy patterns that create a chronic problem for our senses. It is necessary to remove the effect of these environmental pollutants so that the senses can begin to function at a high level."

Leaving aside for the moment the problems caused by what ‘symmetrical’ and ‘asymmetrical’ mean in this statement, the article continues:

"Each individual human had a fundamental adverse problem imposed on their senses when they had their first photograph taken. A photographic image captures the unique identity of the subject of the photograph but imposes a significant temporal (time) asymmetrical pattern. The action of this photograph radically changed the inner symmetry of the senses of the photographed human being. (my italics) Fortunately, this debilitating adverse condition is reversible."

And May then goes on to explain how the freezing of photographs restores lost temporal ‘symmetry’ because:

"This experiment demonstrates that within the freezer compartment, there exists a high degree of symmetry and that this symmetrical condition is imposed on the temporal asymmetric condition of the two chronologically spaced photographs and is, in turn, imposed on the senses of the human subject of the photographs. It is unfortunate that the vast majority of people, including many who work in science and technology, do not appreciate that a photograph functions within the quantum mechanical world."

Well, in one sense of course everything functions ‘within’ the quantum mechanical world, even though we may not understand how. And even after remembering that people once believed that being photographed stole their souls, I can’t quite stop twitching a bit when quantum physics is wheeled out too readily as the explanation for otherwise imponderable physical phenomena. But there’s even more to come:

"The experiment with the photographs also demonstrates that the conditions within the freezer compartment are also a function of the quantum mechanical world ...and… the next part of the experiment involves the use of a battery operated flashlight (torch). There can be very few people who are not aware that the light created by the flashlight consists of a stream of billions of particles of light and particles of light (photons) are the essential energy producing pattern within the quantum mechanical world……

…..Isaac Newton was convinced that light always consisted of minute particles and this concept became known as the 'corpuscular theory'. This established Newtonian theory was challenged at the end of the 18th century when Thomas Young performed the double slit experiment which demonstrated that light was propagated with wavelike properties and could be changed to have the properties of individual particles by subjecting the light to different conditions. It is interesting to note that, because of the stature of Isaac Newton, this convincing demonstration by Young was ignored for many years by the scientific establishment. There have, since this time, been innumerable high quality experiments to explain the duality of light - all to no avail!"

At this point the article becomes more difficult to rationalise, and continues…

"Experiments to explore how the human senses function, readily demonstrate that, when the human senses interact with light and other natural energy patterns, a process occurs similar to that which takes place when the wave formation of the energy is manipulated to form a particle condition. If this process is understood within the space co-ordinates of x, y, z and t - the y co-ordinate represents the natural energies in wave formation which interact with the human receptors and create a particle structure, on an object, which is the 'x' co-ordinate.

The human body, having the ability to manipulate the raw basic energy patterns of nature to activate the complex human senses can, by writing with a Red pen on an object, create the 'x' co-ordinate onto the object. This is a direct interaction of the manipulated energy patterns on the human being, superimposed on the random energy pattern on the object. The object is then left in a permanent state that all human beings, within its presence, can interact with on a one to one basis….Within nature, there are now a number of established effective number sequences. One of these is 'x 26 'x."

Now despite Heisenberg, Schrödinger’s Cat and all that, I’m not completely convinced that… ‘when the human senses interact with light and other natural energy patterns, a process occurs similar to that which takes place when the wave formation of the energy is manipulated to form a particle condition.’ I think I can see what May Belt means but at first reading this felt like a big over-generalisation to me and - misquoting both Finnegans Wake and Richard Feynman simultaneously - I found myself thinking ‘Three Snarks for Muster Mark. Hah!’ Until that is… an irritating niggle occurred to me about the figure ‘26’ in the 'x 26 'x red pen formula.

Twenty six just happens to be the Atomic Number (the number of protons in an atom) of Iron. And while May Belt’s article gives no clue about whether or not this significance is intentional, since iron is an essential part of blood haemoglobin (though I’m no biologist, I should add) there just might be a (loose-ish) sort of argument here, for some kind of ‘connectedness’ (at an electromagnetic if not an actual ‘quantum’ level) between objects marked with the formula and human beings. And the marks have to be made with a permanent red pen. ‘Well, it’s a thought,’ I thought.

Now by sheer chance too (or by one of those peculiar coincidences that CG Jung and the physicist Wolfgang Pauli called ‘synchronicities’) at just about the time I began this investigation, I happened to bump into a research biologist greatly interested in the effects of electromagnetism on humans. This was Roger Coghill whose laboratory in Wales is deeply concerned with investigating such effects with substantial scientific rigour. His web site (Click Here) describes the work and the site’s link to ‘Endogenous Fields’ is maybe just relevant to what May Belt is saying.

The use of photographs to transmit these notional perceptual effects still needed more explanation however…..

Morphic Fields


"But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!
"

 

To explain the notional ‘linkages’ between frozen photographs marked with a red pen and similarly marked audio components, the Belts also rely heavily on the theories of Rupert Sheldrake (another research biologist) concerning the supposed existence of phenomena that he calls ‘Morphic Fields’ and ‘Morphic Resonances.’ A full account of these can be found on Sheldrake’s web site (Here) for those interested in learning more. And although Sheldrake’s ideas are distinctly controversial and regarded as nonsense by some of his more orthodox colleagues (a past Editor of ‘Nature’ once suggested that one of his books should be burned, for instance) he is undoubtedly a carefully trained scientist who conducts his studies with a good deal of rigour.

If I catch Sheldrake’s drift correctly he says that:

    • Genes do not wholly explain the development of organisms (simple or complex) and that ‘fields’ (called biological, positional or developmental ‘fields’ by some biologists in the past) are needed to impose different kinds of order on otherwise random genetic processes.

    • These ‘morphogenetic' fields are not fixed forever, but evolve.

    • The fields are inherited by new members from past members of a species through some kind of non-local effect that he calls, ‘morphic resonance.’

The consequences of these propositions are that the ‘morphic fields’ presently organizing the activity of the nervous system in humans and other creatures, are inherited through morphic resonance, conveying a collective and instinctive memory among species. Individuals within a species however both draw upon and also contribute to the collective memory of their species. This accounts, Sheldrake says, for why new patterns of (animal) behaviour sometimes spread more rapidly over huge distances than would otherwise seem likely. Sheldrake maintains for instance, that humans in one location can learn and (digest) new ideas faster once some kind of critical mass of people somewhere else have already learned them. It’s not telepathy exactly but a mysterious ‘something in the air’ that makes the accelerated learning possible.

Now, although I don’t understand these ideas in any detail, it does seem to me that Sheldrakes ‘morphic resonance’ and the increasingly validated notion of ‘quantum entanglement’ in which widely separated clusters of atoms can somehow interact with each other even over large distances - (Click Here for a recent discovery in Denmark about this) - aren’t conceptually (bad pun coming up) a million miles apart. Einstein called quantum entanglement, ‘spooky action at a distance’ (probably incorrectly as it happens) but even so it’s just possible that the Belts ‘quantum mechanical’ explanations for their discoveries may not be quite so far fetched after all.

If, as the Belts maintain, the adverse temporal asymmetry (still not quite defined) generated by a photograph is removed by freezing it, then the real person’s ‘morphic field’ might just change too with the result that another a layer of muddle is removed from his/her perceptual processes. Though not stated overtly I assume that two photographs are needed to cover the individual’s life-span.

Interestingly, May Belt e-mailed me to point out that the red pen ‘treatment’ works without photographs being placed in a freezer but also said that the ‘symmetry’ of the freezer can be demonstrated fairly easily. If the red pen is used to sign either one’s name or to write the formula ‘x 26 ‘x on labels which are then attached to either CDs or to pieces of audio equipment, the sound always seems to improve. If however these labels are replaced by others made after personal photographs have been frozen, and are then marked with the red pen in the suggested manner, a far greater improvement will occur. Going back to the first set of labels will then make the sound seem very unpleasant – despite the fact that an initial improvement was perceived when they were applied initially. This, May says, is simply because our memory of acceptable sound changes each and every time we hear an upgrade.

The Belts’ explanation for the ‘Aspirin on the Speakers’ experiment also depends on ‘morphic resonance’ (according to the PWB website here .) Some kind of interaction between the evolutionary processes that produced early dominance of sight over hearing, the mammalian eye’s reactions to light, and the adverse ‘morphic’ properties of wood, are claimed to be the foundation for the effectiveness of the pin-hole device. The fact that aspirin comes from willow bark (one of the few trees to have apparently ‘positive’ morphic effects on the human organism) is claimed to explain the beneficial effect of the strategically placed aspirin tablet. This is a seriously summarised version of the explanation however and more detail is available from the web link above.

Conclusions

All of this would simply be good clean knockabout stuff, were it not for the plain fact that something useful does happen when any of these experiments are carried out particularly when they are applied cumulatively. And although my initial reactions to the Belts’ explanations for why their devices work were fairly dismissive, the more I think about them, then the more I become open-minded, if not entirely persuaded of their accuracy.

I am still at a loss to understand exactly why the CD logo needs to be covered when Silver Rainbow foil is applied to a disc however, but I’m told that this discovery (and similar ones like crossing out bar-code markings with a red pen) were made after Peter Belt had conducted a long series of trial and error experiments some years ago. So it does seem to me that something very interesting is going on at PWB Electronics, however outlandish it may seem and however imperfect the Belts’ explanations remain to theorists.

It’s possible of course, that my wife and I are suffering from Folie à Deux, the psychiatric condition in which the delusional world of one person is accepted as reality by another. If that’s true - and if my current attempts to understand the Belts’ explanations for their products are simply aspects of my need to preserve my psychic equilibrium - I can see that Folie might be the real ‘reality’. That would certainly explain why the mental health people haven’t been round yet.

"It's a Snark!" was the sound that first came to their ears,
And seemed almost too good to be true.
Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
Then the ominous words "It's a Boo-"

 

"In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away---
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see"

Bill Kenny

 PS Apart from rude messages affirming that I am indeed as mad as apple crumble, comments on the two pieces about PWB Electronics are welcomed at the Music Web Bulletin Board.

Contact Mrs May Belt for more information or a sample of Silver Rainbow CD Foil either by emailing foil@belt.demon.co.uk or by surface mail at PWB Electronics, 18 Pasture Crescent, Leeds, LS7 4QS, UK Please enclose your name and postal address in your communications.

The PWB Product Users Group is at http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/PWB

The PWB Web Site is at http://www.belt.demon.co.uk

Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark can be found Here

 

 

 

 



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