Russell Targ (born April 11, 1934) is an American physicist and author, an ESP researcher, and pioneer in the earliest development of the laser.
Targ was born in Chicago. He is a son of William Targ, former editor-in-chief of G.P. Putnam’s, where his father was editor and publisher of “The Godfather”. Russell is a brother-in-law of former World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer. He was married to Joan Targ, Bobby’s sister, who died in 1998. Russell and Joan had a daughter, Elisabeth Targ, who was a psychiatrist, and two sons Alexander and Nicholas.
Targ received a Bachelor of Science in physics from Queens College in 1954, and did graduate work in physics at Columbia University. He received two National Aeronautics and Space Administration awards for inventions and contributions in lasers and laser communications.
Targ is also an editor, publisher, songwriter, producer, and teacher. In 1997 he retired from Lockheed Martin as a project manager and senior staff scientist, where he developed laser technology for airborne detection of wind shear and air turbulence. He has published more than a hundred papers on lasers, plasma physics, laser applications and electro-optics.
At the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s and 1980s, Targ and his colleague Harold E. Puthoff co-founded a 23-year, $25-million program of research into psychic abilities and their operational use for the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and Army Intelligence. These abilities are referred to collectively as “remote viewing.” Targ and Puthoff both believe that Uri Geller, retired police commissioner Pat Price, and artist Ingo Swann all had genuine psychic abilities. They published their findings in Nature and the Proceedings of the IEEE. From 1972 to 1995 the program was classified SECRET and compartmentalized with Limited Access. That is to say, the program was not only classified, but every single person who was informed about the program had to personally sign a so-called bigot list, to acknowledge that they had been exposed to the program data. However, their work met criticism from some, including psychologists David Marks and Richard Kammann in their 1980 book, The Psychology of the Psychic.
Targ’s autobiography, Do You See What I See: Memoirs of a Blind Biker, was published in 2008, and describes his life as a scientist and legally-blind motorcyclist. Targ lectures worldwide on remote viewing. He now resides in Palo Alto, California with his second wife, Patricia.