Professor Harold J. Finley is driving home when he discovers that two road workers are blocking the road ahead. He asks them to let him by but they refuse and start to harass him when he persists. Frustrated, Harold backs up and takes a 12-mile detour to get home. Behind him, an energy mass forms above the workers. They stare in horror and then try to run, but the energy mass disintegrates first them and then their truck.
When he arrives home, Finley tells his wife Vera that he'll be meeting with a team at the space science center. Vera dismisses the important news, saying that Harold applied before but was rejected. However, he insists that he wants to do more than teach college courses, and that the staff is counting on him to save their project. Skeptical, Vera asks him to return some bottles at the store before he goes.
At the space center, Dr. Keenan and his assistant, Tremaine, inform their superior, Dr. Henschell, that exploration and mining of the asteroid belt is critical now that Earth's supply of raw materials is dwindling. Henschell points out that they've been unable to develop spacecraft capable of traveling the distance or mining equipment portable and powerful enough to take there. He tells the team that the government is shutting down the project and disbanding them unless they can find answers. Keenan introduces Harold and explains that he has the answer to their problems. Harold concentrates and lifts a half-ton meteorite into the air through the power of his thoughts, and Keenan explains that Harold developed a link gate device that allows a human being to manipulate electromagnetic forces. Harold informs Henschell that the link gate acts as a magnifying lens, allowing him to focus and direct his thoughts into waves of gravity and force. When Henschell asks to see the device, Harold explains that it was necessary for him to have a surgical team implant it into his brain's frontal lobe. The team plans to place the same implant in an asteroid, fly him to the asteroid belt, and let him use the implant to mine asteroids without expensive equipment.
Henschell approves the project and leaves. Dr. Sigmund Hinderman, the staff psychologist, talks to Harold privately and wonders why he risked his life on a risky brain operation. Harold insists that he needed to contribute somehow, but Hinderman warns him that the human brain contains dark emotions and impulses. The psychologist wonders how the link gate might channel those impulses.
Upon returning home, Harold tries to tell Vera how important his work is, but she dismisses it as a flight of imagination. When Harold says that they'll have to sell the house and move to Reedsville where the space center is located, Vera reacts for the first time and refuses. The normally meek Harold snaps at her, saying that she wants him to fail and has never supported him. However, he quickly restrains himself and goes to see his superior, Dean Radcliffe, to seek a release from his teaching contract. Radcliffe refuses, saying that he is unable to find a replacement for Harold and that he has to fulfill his contract for the entire semester. When Harold asks for reduced hours, Radcliffe insists that he maintain a full-time scheduled as he agreed. Disappointed, Harold walks down the hallway, unaware that the energy mass is forming in Radcliffe's apartment. Radcliffe and his secretary don't see it, but when Radcliffe goes to the door, the energy mass brings down the ceiling behind him. Harold runs back upon hearing the noise and sees the destruction, but has no idea that he is responsible.
Later, Harold continues to test and hone his abilities, bending and warping a steel bar. Keenan tells him to relax and confirms that the force the professor is generating increases each time that they test him. When Keenan worries that Harold may be dividing himself between his teaching duties and the work at the space center, Harold lies and says that he quit his faculty job. The astronaut who is receiving the implant, Steve Crandon, comes in and chats with Harold. He's clearly impressed with the older man's heroism and determination. When Harold talks of how Steve and his fellow astronauts represent the new spirit of America and make up for the failures of others, Steve finds it impossible to believe that Harold has ever faced failures. Harold tells him not to let things go to late and make his mark before others grind him down. He asks if Steve has a girlfriend and then invites him home for dinner. As they go, Steve asks if Harold suffers any aftereffects from the implant, but the professor dismisses them as a few temporary headaches.
When Harold brings Steve home, Vera is washing the windows atop a ladder. She is unimpressed by her husband's new important friend, and relishes telling Harold that Radcliffe came by to talk about how Harold is neglecting his classes. Realizing he's in an awkward situation, Steve offers to get a bus back to his apartment. As Harold goes after him, the energy mass forms near Vera. She sees it and falls off the ladder, screaming as she hurts her leg. Harold and Steve run back and Vera describes how she felt as if some kind of electrical energy was touching her.
After the doctor comes to tend Vera's leg, she insists that something pulled her off the ladder. Harold insists that there was nothing there but Vera doesn't believe it. Radcliffe calls as he prepares for bed and tells Harold that he knows the professor is breaking his contract. He insists on holding Harold to his contract to keep him from throwing away his career. Harold convinces Radcliffe to let him come by the next morning and plead his case. Radcliffe hangs up and Harold glares at the phone, muttering about what he wants to happen. The energy mass forms behind him briefly, and then appears in Radcliffe's bedroom. His wife Emily sleeps through her husband's screams as he cowers in bed and is then disintegrated by the energy mass.
The next day, Emily tries to tell the detective what happened and how she was thrown across the room by an invisible force. Harold arrives for his appointment and realizes what happened, and tells the detective that he had an appointment. Later, Harold goes to the space center for further testing and Keenan tells him that his power is increasing, and that soon they could harness the power of the gods. The professor goes to see Hinderman and wonders if his emotions could change the nature of the energy he's drawing upon. Hinderman points out that Mankind has always believed that people could send out evil thoughts. When Harold insists that he doesn't harbor any hidden thoughts, Hinderman says that it's impossible to know what the subconscious contains.
Upon returning home, Harold tells his wife that he pulled her off the ladder and killed Radcliffe. He explains the true purpose of the brain operation and the implant, and insists that he doesn't want to hate anyone. When Vera assumes that he's insane and calls the hospital, Harold tries to stop her. She dismisses him as weak and powerless and his claim as his imagining he wants power he can never have. Harold begs her to believe him and then summons the energy mass. As Harold backs away in horror, all of the objects in the living room fly into the area. The energy starts to envelop Vera and Harold finally manages to send it away. She begs Harold not to kill her, asking what she can do to convince him. She tells him that she refused to have a child with Harold because she despised him and didn't want him as a father. Reduced to tears, Vera promises to do whatever Harold wants, but he warns her that he can't help himself.
The next day, Harold goes to the space center as they prepare Steve for the operation. He tries to tell Steve that the implant gives uncontrollable power to the user, but Steve insists that he isn't afraid of power. Harold then tries to convince and Tremaine to stop the operation, but Keenan insists that they can't impede human progress because of perceived risk. Hinderman believes that Harold will use his powers to try and stop the operation and has Keenan give Harold a sedative. The professor willingly takes it and lies down in the next room.
The surgical team begins the operation, but Hinderman warns Keenan that they have only sedated Harold's conscious mind. Keenan realizes the risk but believes that Harold subconsciously wants the project to succeed and will restrain himself. However, the energy mass materializes in the operating theater, disintegrating the surgeon. When Keenan rushes in, he is also disintegrated. Harold wakes up and, realizing he doesn't want to live with such power, faces the energy mass. Acting on his conscious and subconscious desires, it disintegrates him and ends its own existence.