Several hypotheses relating to interacting mechanisms which may explain biosystem and human hypersensitivities to electric and magnetic fields

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James Beal, EMF Interface Consulting, New Orleans, LA, with assist of Marcus Barnes, P.E., Aerodyne Laboratories, Austin, TX and Charles Wallach, Ph.D., Behavioral Research Associates, Canoga Park, CA.

Prepared for posterboard presentation at the 1996 Annual Review of Research on Biological Effects of Electric & Magnetic Fields, sponsored by DOE/EPRI/EPA, San Antonio, TX, November 17-21, 1996.


1. To propose that the origins of terrestrial biological life may have required:

a. the presence of EMF flux of different waveforms and intensities

b. the prevalence and interaction, within the living cell, of a variety of biological liquid crystal (LC) forms which provide fundamental support and/or detection mechanisms for quantum-level sensitivity.

2. To present hypotheses for several mechanisms which appear to support the evolution of ultra-sensitive, probably interacting, EMF detection mechanisms.

3. To present a brief overview about effects from EMFs received by and associated with biosystems with an emphasis on the existence and increase of the human Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS)


What are liquid crystals (LCs)?

In 1888, Reinitzer discovered "Living Materials", Liquid organic solutions which show intermediate LC phases before crystalizing on cooling. Phase molecules behave like liquids and flow, but also exhibit properties of crystals. Rod-shaped organic molecules, are about 25 Angstroms in length. Their ordering is a function of temperature (thermotropic) or solvent concentration (lyotropic).

LCs are birefringent and the most optically active substances known.

LCs are major components of the biological membranes which define the shape of cells and organelles. Biological membranes are thin layers of protein and lipid that permit the compartmentalization of living matter. Proteins are the functional units of cell membranes and perform biological activities such as the transport of nutrients into cells, the removal of waste materials from cells and the transmission of signals into cells.

It is the lipid molecules of biological membranes that exist in an LC state and provide a matrix for membrane proteins to perform their function.

Other major classes of compounds (proteins, carbohydrates and nucleic acids) exist in LC phases under well-defined conditions.

LCs seem to play an important part in systemic effects (healing or harming) by sensing and responding to very minute changes in temperature, light, mechanical stress, chemical concentrations and EMF potentials.

They may also selectively store energy information patterns received from physical and emotional events (traumas and transformations).

LCs appear to provide quantum energy detecting mechanisms, supporting:

a. Discrete biological sensing systems for light, sound, taste, smell, mechanical pressure, and temperature.

b. Whole-body sensing for automatic (subliminal) maintenance of body health and survival in an ever-changing environment.

The study of LCs is gaining an ever-increasing role in condensed matter physics and macro-molecular science, as well as in commercial applications [1].

Therefore, it is very important to know the properties of LC materials in order to better understand EMF-related biological processes [2].

a. Nematic -- Flat-plate visual displays and optical switches (most popular usage) where the rod-like molecules line up like iron filings, when activated by a low voltage source, rotating the polarization of light to create an opaque on-or-off shutter-like effect. The rod-shaped organic molecules are not in discrete layers.

b. Cholesteric -- a special kind of chiral (twisted) nematic LC of ordered, discrete layers, exhibiting dichromism which produces iridescent color changes when layers rotate, due to energy from thermal, chemical, pressure and EMF sources.

c. Chiral Smectic 'C' Ferroelectric -- the latest development in LC technology is high density inexpensive optical storage [3]. holographic data storage and retrieval densities of approximately 3 Gbit in2 (!) has been achieved with current systems. Much higher density storage systems are expected. The new technique involves the use of polarized light to induce discrete molecular layer alignment with high spatial resolution. Varying the polarization direction varies the LC chiral twist angle; the light (energy) transmittance of each region varies with the twist angle, thus much information can be stored in and retrieved from each molecular layer.


The Planetary Resonator Hypothesis (Graf & Cole) [4, 5]

Intense fields and frequencies of Pre-Cambrian earth and Van Allen belts 2 billion years ago produced active planetary resonator (0.1 - 100Hz) with strong 10 Hz feedback component, catalyzing amino acids and providing directing force in polymer structure and activity.

An ultra-sensitive, individuated, protein transceiver biocommunications mechanism, reacting to static (DC) and time-varying (AC) fields, is postulated to produce the 'frequency window' effect, and to act as a physiologic regulator and a transduction device for an external timing signal.

As dipoles bearing a net charge, proteins would tend to orient themselves in the external time-changing, 10 Hz resonant EMF [6-8]. Thus, during millions of years of evolution, changes in protein structure would have had to conform to the dynamics of the 10 Hz external field. Proteins thus evolved would be extremely sensitive to ELF changes in the 10 Hz region in much the same way the eye has evolved to be sensitive to the visible spectrum.

Properties of the signal which life forms emit and/or receive:

a. Is common to all and between all life forms, i.e. plant to plant, plant to animal, even cell to cell.

b. Is transmitted and received with energies available to life systems, again even with the energy within a single cell.

c. Is unattenuated by great distances, the atmosphere, oceans and the usual conducting materials.

d. Is not present in, but may be affected by, inanimate objects.

e. Can contain codified information.

None of the characteristics above are inconsistent with a very efficient and highly evolved ELF transceiver system in biosystems. Such sensitivity in biosystems is evidenced by the energy quanta detection capabilities of the ear, the eye and other sensory systems in animals and humans. In the case of humans, the system is reacting to some sort of stress stimuli, as allergic reactions [9-11] to specific frequencies and waveforms, that disrupt normal neural pathways.

The Wave Interaction Hypothesis (Hagan & Reid) [13, 14]

Just as the material units of existence, atoms and basic particles, can be viewed as waves or particles, depending on the observational frame chosen by the physicist, so also can biochemical macromolecules, the units of biological existence, be viewed as waves or particles by the biologist. This unusual hypothesis proposes that the flux of different waveforms which floods biological systems provides an interference pattern, whose energetic distribution forms a scaffold for the construction of biological forms. This is somewhat analogous to magnetic particles attracted into a 3-d pattern around a strong magnetic field -- only in this case the organic molecules would be polarized and react in a similar way to dielectric forces.

In this way the biological whole becomes the Fourier transform of the parts and histological pattern becomes the determinant of macroscopic form. Evidence is offered suggesting that biological forms follow the energy patterns laid down by the environment. It is proposed that the ability of biopolymers to re-radiate coherent waveforms derived from the environment has given evolved systems the autonomy which has allowed a free and prolific evolution. This coherent illumination can be analyzed by Fourier methods and this shows that the results are peculiarly appropriate for biological systems. The Gaussian waveform is all-important and may explain the influence of homogeneous and heterogeneous DNA in cell surface kinetics, hybridization and carcinogenesis."

If we accept that local EMF patterns are important control factors in growth processes, then long-range patterns of the same type would also influence these processes. Patterns are found in many research papers, showing geophysical, lunar, and solar influences on living systems [4, 5, 13-18, 22-27].

Cell surface steroids and sugars, which exert a strong influence on cell function, are optically active (Liquid Crystals) and can function as spatial filters, optical rotators, or diffraction gratings to achieve a modifying influence on tissue during its formation in morphogenesis. Thus, tissue formed on a diffraction pattern (an energy pattern, or scaffold) can itself become a modifying influence for subsequent tissue growth.

It would seem, therefore, that biological organisms, from a prebiotic congruency with environmental waveforms at a primeval level [4, 5] to the sophisticated cycling of human integration with solar and lunar periodicity at an evolved level, have been so harmoniously integrated with and dependent upon environmental flux that it seems to have almost disappeared, in much the same way as a man may not notice the well fitting clothes he is wearing or the essential activities of his internal organs (or, like water to a fish!). The 'Ghost In The Machine' which Koestler has drawn to our attention might well be an optical transform.

Fröhlich [28] proposes that coherent vibrational sources exist in energized biopolymers (this implies diffraction patterns..and Liquid Crystal information storage capabilities). Some, in the brain, may have become specialized to form and process images and store information similar to the hologram [3]. Energy interference patterns, similar to holography, have been hypothesized by Karl Pribram and others to explain certain processes of brain memory storage [29].

Integrated Mechanisms (Persinger) [30]

If ELF electric and magnetic fields were involved with the formation of life forms [4, 5], then these fields should still influence those diffuse but essential processes that were available to life-forms at that time. Reflexively catalytic reaction series (reflexive cycles), an emergence condition for origin of life would be specifically affected because of their time variation. One of the most common properties of biological systems is the ability to maintain ion-molecular concentration disparities through the use of membrane selective permeability. Such selectivity is in large part governed by a precariously balanced structure of lipoproteins that has been called the liquid crystal condition. There is strong evidence that lipids and lipoproteins are involved with other basic life processes relevant to ELF field interactions. Rhythmicities in heart cells are intrinsically related to lipid levels. Lipid solvents, which change membrane selectivities to the ionic milieu, are important anesthetics (is this what is affected by the electroanesthetic process [31] ?) and toxicants. The reported intense attraction of peripheral nerves to magnetic fields also seems dependent upon lipid structure.

The liquid crystal condition of lipids at life temperature, water concentration, and pH (charge) exhibit a lamellar structure that is characterized by selective permeability. In this narrow band of environmental conditions, the bilamellar or "smectic mesophasic" structure is quite stable. Theoretical calculations indicate that when local variations in charges are increased (1.25 to 2.0 charges per phospholipid molecule), the "cylindrical miscelle" (microtubule) has lower free energy than the bilayer which consequently becomes unstable [32]. With greater numbers of cylindrical micelles, increased numbers of "holes" occur in the membrane and permeabilities are changed.

Certainly this model could explain many ELF field research results. Weak EMFs that produced localized changes in charge density could alter the conditions required for liquid crystal conditions, and consequently produce small changes within the viable limits of the system. Changes in phospholipid membrane properties or variations of specific cations, e.g., Na+, K+, Ca++, known to be controlled by membrane properties have been frequently reported in ELF research.

Biogenic Magnetite Mechanism (Kirschvink) [33-36]

LC properties in living systems may provide the basic support for several of the background mechanisms proposed to explain the biosystem effects of natural and artificial EMFs. In this case the LCs in their various biosystem forms may react to amplify unusual internal or external energy inputs, transmitting their sensing reactions to stimulate other systems, e.g., immune system response, melatonin production, various symptoms, etc.. Biogenic magnetite is found primarily in the brain and highly enervated ethmoid sinus area in humans. It is also found in specific brain areas of insects, fish, birds and mammals, and more concentrated in the brains of migratory creatures which must get their cues from geomagnetic variations and patterns. This biomagnetite is most likely concentrated in a differentiated cell type (a magnetocyte) which might contain thousands of magnetosomes (individual crystals of single-domain molecular size).

In the almost quantum-energy detection level of biological sensors to EMFs, the LCs in these areas may play an important part in detecting and amplifying the effects of EMFs on the magnetosomes -- perhaps providing fixed storage of environmental geo-electromagnetic patterns for migration/navagation purposes.

Dr. Kirschvink states: [36]

The discovery of biogenic magnetite (Fe3O4) in a variety of human tissues suggests that it may be responsible for some of the reported effects of weak, ELF magnetic fields. A previous analysis suggests that individual crystals of magnetite of single domain size could contribute enough mechanical energy to activate trans-membrane ion channels. Detailed analysis of the magnetic property data from human tissues (normal and pathological) indicate the presence of substantial magnetic intergrain interaction effects. This implies that biological averaging of ELF EMF effects at the cell membrane is a possibility.

Since biogenic magnetite seems to be ubiquitous in the environment, it may have played a basic role in the initial development of living systems and vaious sensing mechanisms. There is much evidence that biological forms follow the energy patterns laid down by the waveforms of the environment. Electromagnetic vibration can rearrange molecules and macro-molecules into patterned forms (sound, RF, microwave, heat, light, etc.) Lissajou or Chladni figures produced in liquid and solids, appear as structural biological patterns in simple organisms (diatoms, for example) [13].

Induced Electric Currents (Eddy Currents) Mechanism (Lerchl, [81]

In summary, the reference states:

During the past decade, a number of reports indicated that the mammalian pineal gland is magnetosensitive in terms of spatial orientation. This indication is based on observations that artificial alterations of the direction of the earth's magnetic field (MF) markedly decreased the gland's capability to synthesize melatonin. These findings, however, seem paradoxical since animals as well as humans experience such alterations whenever they turn their heads. Therefore, the potential of the pineal for sensing magnetic fields was re-investigated. During the dark phase, rats were exposed to repeatedly inverted MFs, generated by two identical pairs of Helmholtz coils; one pair connected to a power supply automatically, the other pair manually using an integrated potentiometer. Only the pineals of animals exposed to the automatically activated field responded with a reduced activity of the rate-limiting enzyme serotonin-N-acetyltransferase, lower melatonin levels and increases in serotonin and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid. Hence, MF exposure itself did not affect the pineal. Rather, induced eddy currents in the animals, resulting from rapid On/Off transients of the artificially applied MF, affect the pineal gland either directly, or, more likely, indirectly, via an action on the neural input. The eddy current mechanism is most likely the explanation.
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