London, Jun 1: Thousands of Twitter users will test their psychic powers in the first scientific experiment to be conducted via the social messaging service.
Experts will use the website to investigate 'remote viewing'-the psychic ability to identify distant locations. During the experiment, members of the public will be asked to 'tweet' their impressions of a randomly chosen spot in the UK visited by one of the researchers.
The users will then vote for which of five photographs on a website shows where the visitor was standing, and the trial will be repeated with visually different locations four times.
If at the end of the experiment the votes correctly identify at least three targets, the existence of extra-sensory perception would be proved.
"Personally, I'm sceptical, but three hits would be against odds of one in 125, which would be quite impressive," the Telegraph quoted study leader psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, as saying.
Wiseman is expecting as many as 10,000 people to take part in the research, being conducted in collaboration with New Scientist magazine.
He will be travelling to each target location and send a message to thousands of participants to 'tweet' their thoughts about his surroundings.
After twenty minutes of sending this message he will transmit another containing a website address on which participants can view photographs of the actual location and four decoys. They will then cast their votes.
Wiseman said: "I have staged several mass participation studies over the years, but this is the first to use Twitter. The instant nature of tweets allows thousands of people to take part in real time, making it perfect for an extra-sensory perception experiment. If the effect does exist then having so many people participate will help detect it."
The results of the experiment are expected to be revealed on Jun 5.
Sumit Paul-Choudhury, online editor at New Scientist, said: "There have been mass participation experiments since the start of mass communication and this is the next step. If we find some sort of effect then we can get into speculating about how it works."