The intrepid Marco Polo, his father and uncle were among the first Europeans to set foot in China, arriving at Peking and the court of Kublai Khan in 1275. Among his retinue, the Khan had a number of magicians, or bakhshi, whose powers were considerably more spectacular than any yet shown by such modern-day wizards as Uri Geller.
At court feasts, the magicians would serve the Khan in style: "When the Great Khan is seated in his high hall at his table, which is raised more than 12 feet above the floor, and the cups are on the floor of the hall and are full of wine and milk and other pleasant drinks, these bakhshi contrive by their enchantment and their art that the full cups rise up of their own accord from the floor and come to the Great Khan without anyone touching them.
Marco Polo makes no attempt to explain this feat; he simply swears to its truth. But the modern mind cannot be content without some attempt at a scientific explanation of such strange powers. A reasonable hypothesis is that paranormal phenomena involved an as yet undefined form of energy that the instruments and methods of orthodox science cannot detect.
But this force would certainly have to be very strange indeed, able to operate on, or perhaps through the human mind, yet also creating physical effects such as levitation, and unlike the forces familiar to scientists, it would need to act across time as well as space.