I once saw reference to a noun that identified a person whose physical presence disrupts equipment, particularly electronic devices. Any ideas?

  • Perhaps EMPer? – bib Sep 18 '13 at 0:08
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    In physics this is called the Pauli Effect. Some physicists are experimentalists, some are theorists. It was said that Pauli was such a lousy experimentalist that he could cause equipment to malfunction just by walking through the lab, and that therefore he must have been the greatest theoretical physicist in the world. – Beta Sep 18 '13 at 2:23
  • A magnetic personality perhaps? – Pieter Geerkens Sep 19 '13 at 1:41

So long as you're looking for more of a humorous term than a scientific term, I might suggest gremlin.

gremlin (n.) an imaginary imp jokingly said to be responsible for malfunctions in machinery (Collins)

gremlin (n.) a small imaginary creature that people blame when they have problems with machines (Macmillan)

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    Not bad. +Gremlins are considered to be tiny demons that deliberately destroy machines, rather than a passive property of a human person. – Ace Frahm Sep 18 '13 at 0:26
  • Maybe a pixilator! Or an electro-imp! – bib Sep 18 '13 at 0:34

"Electric human" appears to be one label for the person you describe. See the following website: http://amasci.com/weird/unusual/zap.html, where there are numerous links to various websites, some highly suspect and purely anecdotal in nature, and some with the cache of respectability.

The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) at http://icrl.org/ is one of the respectable links. The P.E.A.R. group at Princeton University researched the non-electrical effects which minds could have on electronic devices. The PEAR website provides a link to a newer Princeton-related study group called the ICRL (International Consciousness Research Laboratories). From the ICRL website:

"ICRL is an international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational consortium of some 75 members, most of whom have been associated with the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory at Princeton University as interns or research collaborators over its thirty-year history."

Happy hunting!

  • Has either of these at-Princeton-but-not-affiliated-with-nor-part-of-Princeton-University organizations ever produced any worthwhile results? – Beta Sep 18 '13 at 2:27
  • @Beta Yes, we have. You're welcome to read the articles we published under peer review some 20yr ago in the high-impact journal Foundations of Physics. Our latter pubs had the same quality. – New Alexandria Sep 18 '13 at 11:12
  • We also found the disbelief from scientists of the highest caliber had no greater effect to invalidate – our data or the design of experiments – than did the disbelief of a typical person with no background in physics not consciousness. We were based at Princeton for 25yr, FYI – New Alexandria Sep 18 '13 at 11:16
  • @NewAlexandria: Could you provide a link to one or two of those good solid scientific articles, or at least the name/date? Preferably an article about something earth-shaking like the effects of minds on electronic devices? This is no longer a matter of EL&U, it's just that the ICRL papers I can see seem to be obvious pseudo-science. – Beta Sep 18 '13 at 14:16
  • This is not Physics.SE. I trust a physicist knows how to find research articles published by author, especially when a Publications page is given. We get droves of people claiming we're pseudo-science, and cannot answer every dupe question – New Alexandria Sep 18 '13 at 14:32

As an adjective staticky in the sense of "2. Relating to or producing electrostatic charges." This would do for someone who touches the keyboard and the computer crashes before they even type, for example.

It often is literally static electricity causing such glitches, though I couldn't see this applying to non-contact disruption.


I would suggest disrupter:

To interrupt or impede the progress, movement, or procedure of http://www.thefreedictionary.com/disrupter

In this case, the subject is interrupting the electronic devices.


A jinx can out-murphy just about anyone, any time, any place, any where, no how!

  • This sounds like a speech / writing style that has an origin in a book, movie, etc. Would you cite it, please? – New Alexandria Sep 19 '13 at 12:25
  • @NewAlexandria Sure. Me, around 19 hours ago. – Stan Sep 19 '13 at 18:55

Recent since the ?late 1990s? is: SLI-der.

After SLI Street Light Interference phenomenon, people who claim that, while walking at night, the gas-discharge streetlights turn off one after another as they approach.


Contentious is the first word that comes to my mind.

M-W definition: likely to cause people to argue or disagree

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    I have been known to argue with hardware, I must admit, but I wouldn't use contentious in this context, and the argument is rather one-sided anyway. – Chris H Sep 18 '13 at 8:05

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