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Pyramid power refers to alleged supernatural or paranormal properties of the ancient Egyptian pyramids and objects of similar shape. With this power, model pyramids are said to preserve foods, sharpen or maintain the sharpneses of razor blades, improve health (some people "were so energized that they could not cope with the dynamo effects they experienced"), function "as a thought-form incubator," trigger sexual urges, and cause other dramatic effects.
A French hardware-store owner and pendulum-dowsing author, Antoine Bovis, developed the idea that small models of pyramids can preserve food in the 1930s. Unverifiable stories persist that Bovis stumbled across a paranormal force while standing inside the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. According to this legend, he saw a garbage can inside the chamber which had been piled with dead animals that had wandered into the structure. Bovis noticed that these small carcasses were not decaying, and inferred that the structure somehow preserved them.
Contradicting this popular version, an account discovered by Junior Skeptic magazine has Bovis denying visiting Egypt. In this self-published French-language booklet Bovis off-handedly ascribes the discovery of pyramid power to armchair reasoning and to mystical experiments in Europe using a dowsing pendulum:
I have supposed that Egyptians were already very good dowsers and had oriented their pyramid by means of rod and pendulum. Being unable to go there to experiment and verify the radiations of the Keops Pyramid, I have built with cardboard some pyramids that you can see now, and I was astonished when, having built a regular pyramid and oriented it, I found the positive at the East, the negative at the West, and at the North and the South, dual-positive and dual-negative.
Despite the legend, the idea that pyramids could preserve food was not a result of a chance discovery made while standing inside the Great Pyramid, but followed from Bovis's previous convictions regarding dowsing:
A new supposition: since with the help of our positive 2000° magnetic plates we can mummify small animals, could the pyramid have the same property? I tried, and as you can observe with the small fish and the little piece of meat still hanging, I succeeded totally.
In 1949, inspired by Bovis, a Czechoslovakian named Karel Drbal applied for a patent on a "Pharaoh's shaving device": a model pyramid alleged to maintain the sharpness of razor blades. According to the patent (#91,304), "The method of maintaining the razor blades and straight razor blades sharp by placing them in the magnetic field in such a way that the sharp edge lies in the direction of the magnetic lines." Drbal alleged that his device would focus "the earth's magnetic field", although he did not make it clear how this would work, or whether the device's shape or materials exerted the effect.
Drbal's contention that razors could be sharpened (or have their sharpness maintained) by alignment with the points of the compass or the Earth's magnetic field was probably not original to him. Junior Skeptic magazine discovered exactly similar claims published decades earlier. In 1933, The Times of London carried letters claiming, "if I oriented my razor blades…N. and S. by the compass…they tend to last considerably longer" and "The idea of keeping razor blades in a magnetic field is not quite new. About the year 1900 I found this out…."
In 1968, paranormal authors Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder visited Czechoslovakia, where they happened across a cardboard pyramid manufactured commercially by Drbal. They met with Drbal, then dedicated a chapter of their popular 1970 book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain to pyramid power. This book introduced to the English-speaking world both the concept of pyramid power and the apocryphal origin story about Antoine Bovis.
There is debate over who coined the term "pyramid power." Author Max Toth has claimed he coined the phrase, as has Patrick Flanagan. In the 1970s, both authors released books entitled Pyramid Power. This led to a lawsuit by Flanagan against Toth, according to Toth.
However, the term in the context of its current usage first appeared in print in Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder's 1970 book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. They claim the term was coined by "Czechoslovakian researchers" in the 1960s.
According to Flanagan, pyramids with the exact relative dimensions of Egyptian pyramids act as "an effective resonator of randomly polarized microwave signals which can be converted into electrical energy." 
It is common in New Age magazines to see advertisements for open metal-poled pyramids large enough to meditate under. The New Age group Share International, founded by Benjamin Creme, practices a form of meditation called Transmission Meditation in which they meditate under an open metal-poled tetrahedron; they believe that by doing so, they are tuning into cosmic energy radiating from a cosmic entity known as Maitreya.
In 2005, an episode of MythBusters was aired on the Discovery Channel in which a basic test of pyramid power was performed, using pyramids built to the specifications found in pyramid power claims, such as using the location of the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Several scenarios were tested: perishables (in this case food and a flower) rotting, and razor blade sharpening, with a test subject and a control subject for each scenario. In all but one case there was no appreciable difference between items in the pyramids and items outside. It was theorized that the chopsaw used to cut the apple in that case may have had a significant microbial content on one side of the blade which could have transplanted bacteria from itself onto one half of the apple that was cut. A second test was conducted, in which three subjects matched to three control groups were tested. In this last test, there was no appreciable difference between items at the macroscopic scale. Adam Savage stated several times that the episode "Pyramid Power" was a mistake because:
"I'm still ashamed we ever went near pyramid power as a story to test. All of those mystical things. …We're not going to try to prove a negative. We are always going to look for something that we can actually get our hands on and do tests toward the goal of coming to a conclusion."