Dr. Mae-Wan Ho Invited keynote lecture at Electric Universe 2013: The Tipping Point conference, Albuquerque, 3-6 January, 2013
The powerpoint presentation for both parts of this lecture is also available for download here
All plants and animals, whether single-celled or multicellular, from egg or seed to fully developed organism, possess an electrodynamic ‘life-field’ (L-field) that can be mapped at or close to the surface with appropriate voltmeters and electrodes. Its pattern changes during growth and development, correlating with body plan and organisation, as well as physiological and mental states. However, the source of the L-field is still unknown.
New evidence suggests that the L-field is generated by and embodied in the quantum-coherent liquid crystalline water that makes up 70-90 % of organisms and cells and is essential for life.
Water forms quantum coherent domains at ordinary temperatures and pressures. Within organisms, coherent domains become stabilized as liquid crystalline water on the vast amount of membrane and macromolecular surfaces, effectively aligning the entire body electrically to form a single uniaxial crystal. This liquid crystalline water makes life possible by enabling proteins and nucleic acids to act as quantum molecular machines that transform and transfer energy at close to 100% efficiency. It provides excitation energy to split water in photosynthesis, releasing oxygen for the teaming millions of air-breathing species that colonize the earth, at the same time generating electricity for intercommunication and the redox chemistry that powers the entire biosphere.
Living water is the means, medium and message of life.
I want to start with a really big question. If the organism is electric, as the universe is electric, is the universe an organism?
Yes, said English mathematician -philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), who had an enormous influence on me. Writing fresh in the first flowering of quantum physics, Whitehead showed how the mechanical laws that describe objects with ‘simple location in space and time’ utterly fail to represent natural processes, and argued it is only possible to know and understand nature as an organism.
In his book Science and the Modern World  first published in 1926, he wrote (p. 100): “The concrete enduring entities are organisms, so that the plan of the whole influences the very characters of the various subordinate organisms which enter into it. In the case of an animal, the mental states enter into the plan of the total organism and thus modify the plans of the successive subordinate organisms until the ultimate smallest organisms, such as electrons, are reached [italics mine].”
Whitehead’s organisms include everything in nature, from the universe to galaxies, stars, planets, plants, animals, human beings, bacteria, right down to fundamental particles; they are bundles of electromagnetic activities – “vibratory organisms” - endowed at least with a kind of primal consciousness that experience their environment in acts of “prehensile unification”, and most important of all, evolve as the result of the experience.
I have taken Whitehead’s philosophy to heart, if not the details of his theory. Not only is nature an (electromagnetic) organism, but the knower must also be an electromagnetic organism maximally sensitive and responsive, fully engaged in mind and body, intellect and feeling to other organisms, ultimately to all nature.
There is substantial evidence that living things are fundamentally organized by electric fields and electromagnetic activities. Whitehead’s concept of a “plan of the body” that modifies the motion of electrons within it anticipates the discovery of physiologist Harold Saxton Burr at Yale University, who began his work in the 1930s.
Burr’s book, The Blueprint for Immortality , first published in 1972, offers a grand vision, described on book’s back cover.
“This is a breakthrough book – the first comprehensive account ever published of one of the most important scientific discoveries of this century. It reveals that all living things – from men to mice, from trees to seeds – are moulded and controlled by ‘electrodynamic fields’, which can be measured and mapped with standard modern volt-meters.
“These ‘fields of life’, or L-fields, are the basic blueprints of all life on this planet. Their discovery, therefore, is of immense significance to all of us.
“To every man and woman in this troubled age it gives the comforting certainty that life is no accident and that all of us are integrated parts of the Universe, subjected to its laws and sharing in its purpose and destiny.....the Universe has meaning and so have we.
“Since measurements of L-field voltages can reveal physical and mental conditions, doctors will be able to use them to diagnose illnesses before the usual symptoms develop and so will have a better chance of successful treatment.”
Burr and his many collaborators over a period of forty years documented the existence of L-fields in diverse organisms including eggs and seeds; and dramatic changes in L-field potentials closely correlated with growth, development, and mental states, and key physiological events such as ovulation and cancer.
Burr attached electrodes to trees and simultaneously recorded electric potential differences in the atmosphere and in the earth continuously for 25 years. The records showed that the air and earth potentials fluctuated in phase with the trees’ potentials. Statistical analysis revealed well-known diurnal rhythms in all four records, as well as the lunar cycle and the eleven year cycle of solar activity. These findings leave little doubt that the trees in particular are sensitive to electric and electromagnetic fields from Earth and outer space, acting as antennae to the universe. Trees connect us to the universe. This may be part of the reason why a walk in the woods or being near to woods and forests is found to be beneficial to health .
Earth’s magnetic field comes from the electric current generated in the conductive layer of molten iron in its outer core moving across the Sun’s magnetic field, which in turn generates a magnetic field. Birds, bees, amphibians and other animals are known to depend on Earth’s magnetic field for navigation. There are reports that animals and humans in environments shielded from Earth’s magnetic field aged faster, died more readily, suffered stress and pains, and pathological changes in the liver, kidneys, white blood cells, and urinary bladder .
Earth also has an electromagnetic spectrum or Schumann resonance named after Winifred Otto Schumann (1888-1974) who predicted them in 1952. Schumann resonances are standing waves created in the space between the surface of the earth and the conductive ionosphere, and naturally excited by lightning discharges. Schumann resonances range between 3 and 60 Hz, appearing as distinct peaks at 7.83, 14.3, 27.3 and 33.8 Hz. These same frequencies are prominent in human brain waves and strongly correlated with different mental states. Evidence suggests that humans and other organisms actually synchronize their biological rhythms to the Schumann frequencies [5, 6].
Earth’s electromagnetic activities are strongly affected by those of the sun. The beautiful northern lights are generated during periods of intense solar activity, or magnetic storms, when the solar wind carrying hot energetic plasmas of ionized particles from the sun increases in density and speed. The ionized particles are trapped by Earth’s magnetic field and accelerated towards its magnetic poles. Collisions between these ions and atmospheric atoms and molecules (mainly oxygen and nitrogen) cause light to be emitted as the excited atoms relax back to the ground state. Both higher and lower than average levels of solar and geomagnetic activities are associated with adverse health and psychological impacts on humans worldwide, possibly due to the suppression of the pineal gland secretion of melatonin as biological rhythms are desynchronized. This is also partly why artificial electromagnetic emissions from mobile phones, wireless, high tension power lines are having dire effects on humans and wild life [7-10] (Drowning in a Sea of Microwaves, Cancer Risks from Microwaves Confirmed, Mobile Phones and Vanishing Bees, Mobile Phones & Vanishing Birds, SiS 34).
Burr’s L-field could be measured from the surface of the body or the egg or seed, and detected away from the body surface, as when measurements were done on salamanders in water. This was sign of a true field effect as the field was not shorted out by water. When the salamander was rotated under the electrodes positioned some millimetres away, it acted like a dynamo as expected of a rotating electric field, giving a sine wave of rising and falling potentials.
L-fields of all organisms share some common features, such as a positive potential at the anterior versus a negative potential at the posterior. However, the entire field is made up of subsidiary or local fields specific to the body plan (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 L-fields of humans and salamanders, measured by Robert O Becker 
The L-fields are not static; Burr and his collaborators found L-fields changing slowly, increasing in strength during development to a plateau in adulthood, and declining gradually as the organism ages.
L-fields were confirmed by other laboratories working independently of Burr, and later by orthopaedic surgeon/researcher Robert Otto Becker (1923 − 2008), who also documented DC potential changes during wound-healing and regeneration in animals and humans. Notably he showed that potential changes from regenerating and non-regenerating organisms differ markedly from each other (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 Electric potential changes at the cut end of the stump after amputation in salamander (top), which regenerates its amputated limb, and frog, which does not (from )
Becker’s findings were described in numerous scientific papers, and in one of the most gripping, moving accounts of scientific discovery, The Body Electric , published in 1985, five years after his research lab was shut down by corrupt scientists and politicians, in a bid to silence his warnings on the health hazards of electromagnetic fields from overhead high tension power lines and other electrical installations. (This debate has continued to the present day over ‘non-thermal effects’ including brain cancer resulting from mobile phone use and other electromagnetic smog in our environment; see  Wireless Phones and Brain Cancer and other articles in the series, SiS 51.)
The Body Electric puts you inside the mind of Becker the researcher, examining new results in his laboratory to see if they confirmed what he was expecting or not; leading him on to the next experiment, bringing him step by step closer to the definitive answer he was after. Becker was dedicated to uncovering scientific truth instead of defending any pet theory, not least because he was desperate to help relieve the suffering of his patients.
Becker knew that electromagnetic fields, when used accurately with the correct polarity, at the right time and place, and at the extremely weak levels characteristic of living organisms, could indeed help to heal persistent wounds and fractures, and even regenerate severed finger tips and nerves. However, exposures to inappropriate electromagnetic fields were likely to cause abnormal growth and cancer. Electromagnetic fields are a powerful, double-edged weapon, and must be used with utmost care and precision based on accurate knowledge from painstaking research; only then could it help restore the lives of people often reduced to utter despair.
Becker’s discoveries anticipated by decades the recent findings on the transformation of differentiated cells into stem cells during healing and tissue regeneration, and by manipulations of gene expression in the laboratory (see  The Promise of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, SiS 51). Research is now also focused on enhancing stem cell repair in vivo without transplant by using drugs to encourage the process ( Stem Cells Repair without Transplant, SiS 50). There has been no investigation on the effect of electric fields on the recruitment of stem cells thus far.
Today, it is possible to track electric potential changes in cells and embryos, and it is widely acknowledged to be involved in development, differentiation, regeneration and cancer. But they are interpreted solely, and mistakenly, in terms of membrane potential of cells (see  Membrane Potential Rules, SiS 52) with a major emphasis on identifying downstream gene activities, while important questions on the nature of the electrodynamical life-field and its relationship to health and disease are largely forgotten.
The most exciting serendipitous new discovery at Tufts University is the ‘face’ of the frog roughed out in potential differences very early in development when the embryo is still a shapeless ball of cells with very few anatomical features . A team led by Dany Adams used a combination of voltage and pH sensitive dyes to follow the development of Xenopus embryos under a microscope fitted with a time-lapse camera. It recorded “never-before-seen” dynamic patterns of electrical potentials on the outermost cell layer. These are clear signs of electrodynamic processes determining body structures that appear much later on. I shall come back to this.
Burr’s insight was no less remarkable . He surmised that the L-field reflects the energetic status of the organism; in particular, he assumed correctly that the energy flux of organisms is associated with the chemical flux of metabolism, but the L-field represents energy stored in potential differences across the body. Variations in the L-field, therefore, reflect variations in the flow of energy in the system.
He wrote ( p.71): “If this assumption is true, it follows, then that by studying potential differences during rest and during activity a record could be made of a general level of immediately available energy, as represented by algebraicly summated boundary potentials.
“In the face of the demand for activity this reservoir of potential energy could be tapped. When the biological system is at rest, the potentials could be recorded as DC potentials, but when protoplasm is thrown into any kind of activity, such as neural transmission, muscle contraction and similar events, the first sign of that activity would lie in the sudden withdrawal from the reservoir of electrical energy. In other words, a drop in potential difference. Then, mobilization of chemical properties might be expected to re-establish the original level of the potential difference.”
The concept of stored energy is the key to living organization as emphasized in my book, The Rainbow and the Worm, The Physics of Organisms . Stored energy is coherent energy, and the mobilization of coherent energy can be made with as little dissipation as possible, giving rise in the ideal to the zero-entropy quantum coherent organism; more on this later.
As consistent with Burr’s observation, a drop in ‘membrane potential’ – depolarization precedes many important cellular events including growth and regeneration .
The L-field is separate from, and independent of the action potentials of the brain, or the electrical discharges from the heart measured respectively in electroencephalograms (EEGs) and electrocardiograms (ECGs). In fact, evidence already available to Burr  suggested that EEGs and ECGs are controlled by variations in the L-field, which would show up as baseline potential changes under the action potentials of the EEGs and ECGs, had they not been filtered away (!) in most readings as noise or a nuisance rather than important physiological and psychological information. For example, Burr and colleagues discovered that high potential differences measured between the left and right index figures may be predictive of mental instability.
Evidence that action potentials reflect global field potential changes also came from early embryonic development.
By far the most important unsolved problem in biology is how a relatively featureless egg can transform into a shapely highly differentiated organism in the process of development. I was among a very small number of scientists who believe electrodynamical processes are fundamentally involved in pattern formation.
We carried out several series of experiments described in a paper published more than 20 years ago  Electrodynamic Activities and Their Role in Organisation of Body Pattern (ISIS scientific publication), which provided evidence of highly coherent electrodynamic processes responsible for generating body pattern during early development.
For our experiments we collected synchronously developing batches of freshly laid fertilized eggs from Drosophila. The first series of experiments was carried out in the laboratory of electrophysiologist Charles Nicholson at New York University Medical School, who patiently taught me how to make microelectrodes to record the electrical activities from individual developing embryos without damaging them. The embryo, with its shell (chorion) removed, was attached by hydrophobic interaction between the vitelline membrane and the plastic surface of a petri dish. It was immersed in insect Ringer to keep it from drying out. And the electrode was carefully inserted into the anterior or posterior polar pocket inside the vitellline membrane without puncturing the embryo.
The results were amazing. A series of action potentials from 1 to 30 Hz appeared at least as early as 40 minutes from the start of development and persisted for hours thereafter (see Figure 3). During most of the period in which pattern determination takes place, there is little or no cellular organisation.
Figure 3 Action potentials as successive later time segments at nuclear migration stage (43 – 53 min from start of development) (from )
The trace typically starts with clusters of 2, 3 or 4 volleys of discharges (about 30 Hz) each lasting 1 or 2 s, punctuated by 2-3 s of relative quietude. The volleys increase in amplitude and tend to coalesce into a continuous train. The peak amplitudes are about 10 – 12 mV. The highest frequency of the spikes are about 30 Hz, but can be as low as 15 or 5 Hz. Characteristically, the baseline potential shifts underneath the spiking activities, often coinciding with the start and end of the volleys, strongly suggesting that those shifts are global in extent, and both initiate and end the volleys.
In the second set of experiments carried out in my own laboratory, we exposed the synchronously developing batches of fertilized eggs for 30 minutes to weak static magnetic fields (0.5 to 9 mT) at different times during the first three hours of development when pattern determination is known to occur. This resulted in high proportions of body pattern abnormalities 24 hours later, when the first instar larvae would have normally hatched. The most frequent type of abnormalities is uniquely associated with exposure to static magnetic fields, and consists of variously twisted configurations of the segmental pattern. As static magnetic fields were used, the effects must have been due to moving electrical charges or more likely global field dynamics; and as the energies in the weak magnetic fields were many orders of magnitude below the thermal threshold of random molecular motion, there could have been no effect unless the electrodynamical processes were highly coherent (for details see  Brief Exposure to Weak Static Magnetic Fields during Early Embryogenesis Cause Cuticular Pattern Abnormalities in Drosophila larvae, ISIS scientific publication)
In the third series of experiments done in the laboratory of Fritz Albert Popp, who taught me almost everything I know about quantum physics, the flies were induced to lay eggs in a quartz cuvette, then gently removed. The cuvette with freshly laid eggs was placed in a light-tight chamber connected to a sensitive photon counter, and the photons emitted were recorded with or without a single flash of white light (l min, 4W/m2). Photon emission changed with developmental time, which was not unexpected. Remarkably, when embryos less than 40 min old were stimulated with light, an entirely new phenomenon appeared that has never been observed before: intense light flashes were re-emitted, thousands of times stronger than the base-line. The flashes can be extremely brief (<1 s) or very prolonged (minutes to hours), and can appear any time from one to 20 minute, and up to 8 hours after light stimulation (see also  ). The results are reminiscent of super-radiance in quantum optics, a collective resonant emission involving many, if not all individuals within the synchronously developing population.
These results together provide evidence of electrodynamical activities accompanying pattern formation that are coherent over the whole embryo, and entire populations of embryos. It would be great to look at these embryos again with voltage sensitive dyes.
I have been prompted to revisit these old forgotten findings on coming across a paper by Alexis Pietak from Kingston, Ontario in Canada  proposing a new mechanism for morphogenesis: the formation of resonant electromagnetic modes in a dielectric microwave resonator.
Resonant modes are standing wave patterns formed when a wave is confined within a resonator and subjected to reflection from internal boundaries where incident and reflected waves combine. This is something like the Schumann resonances generated in the cavity between the earth’s surface and the ionosphere (see above), but on a much smaller scale of 0.1 to 1 mm, the dimensions of eggs and primordia. Consequently, the frequency of the electromagnetic waves involved is much higher, in the microwave to sub-millimetre range or GHz (109 cycles per second). Using the mathematical technique of finite element analysis Pietak produced resonant modes (in ellipses and a sphere) (Figure 4) whose patterns resemble different kinds of leaves.
As Pietak noted, this type of mechanism is not restricted to generating leaf patterns. The Drosophila egg is a long ellipse, and successive horizontal resonant modes are reminiscent of stages in the process of segment determination as revealed by the famous gene transcript patterns, which are most likely involved in downstream processes of pattern formation.
Figure 4 Resonant modes in elliptical and spherical resonators generated by finite element analysis and the resonant frequencies in GHz; V, vertical, H, horizontal, N, nodal (rearranged from )
Pietak emphasized that “the model rests on the validity of biological coherence theories as described by Fröhlich… and/or quantum field theorists.” Herbert Fröhlich (1905-1991)  proposed that organisms are condensed matter systems, and can be pumped by metabolic energy into states of coherent excitations (resonant modes) in analogy with the solid-state laser. Quantum field theorists Emilio Del Giudice and colleagues propose that interaction between ambient electromagnetic fields and soft condensed matter such as liquid water creates coherent domains oscillating in phase with the electromagnetic field . I have described the work of Fröhlich in the Rainbow Worm  and quantum field electrodynamics is treated in some detail in my new book  Living Rainbow H2O; both providing extensive evidence for the quantum coherence of organisms.
Field theories of morphogenesis go back at least to the 1920s associated especially with Alexander Gurwitsch (1874–1954) in Russia and Paul Weiss (1898-1989) in Austria; but they were rather vague (see review in Order and Life  by Joseph Needham (1900-1995). A significant advance was made by John Totafurno and Lynn Trainor (1921-2008) in a paper published in 1987 , using a vector-field model to predict baffling results of salamander limb regeneration. In these experiments, a limb was amputated, and the regenerating cell mass was transplanted and/or rotated, leading to abnormal limb regrowth that were determined by the way the cell mass was transplanted. A vector-field has both orientation and continuity, and any disturbance to the field lines need to be smoothed out and reconnected, with the result that extra limbs are generated in certain transplants.
I suggested that the morphogenetic field could be ‘written’ – like memory - in liquid crystalline orientation patterns [17, 25] (Liquid Crystalline Morphogenetic Field, SiS 52), which in turn determine gene transcription patterns and growth.
Liquid crystals are well-known to respond to electric and magnetic fields in generating patterns, as well as in changing their alignments . Thus, resonant electromagnetic modes generated in the Drosophila embryos could give rise to segmental patterns in the liquid crystalline cortex of the early embryos, which result in the well-known gene transcription patterns that lead in turn to the differentiation of the initially cryptic pattern. Static magnetic fields could indeed have a dramatic effect on the liquid crystalline patterning by resonant electromagnetic modes, and hence on the body pattern.
Despite substantial evidence on the existence of L-fields, and the fundamental importance of electrodynamic processes in living organization and function, there is still little clue as to how the L-field is generated and where it resides. In the second part of this lecture, I shall present evidence that liquid crystalline water in living organisms is both the body electric and the L field.
Article first published 14/01/13
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Kaviraj Comment left 14th January 2013 14:02:48
In this context, it is interesting to see G.W.Crile's work. "A Bi=Polar Theory of Living Processes. Hard to find and expensive, but well worth the read.
Kenneth Walton Comment left 14th January 2013 19:07:10
Will Part 2 of this illuminating talk be made available at a later date? Wonderful stuff!
Mae-Wan Ho Comment left 14th January 2013 20:08:23
Kenneth,Thanks for your comment. To be sure, part 2 will appear. Please look out for it!
Roger Taylor Comment left 17th January 2013 15:03:06
I have been following your work for many years, and the development of quantum biology generally. It continues to amaze me that, after all these years of excellent research, this new vision has hardly begun to enter the mainstream. Now there is hope that, thanks to your inspiring talk, perhaps things will begin to change.
Mae-Wan Ho Comment left 17th January 2013 15:03:08
Thank you Roger. It is the same in every field. Discredited, outmoded theories have held sway: from Big Bang Cosmology to mechanistic biology. It is all of a piece with Big Institutions that have been ruling the world. But Big Institutions are crumbling all around us. Let's hope Big Science will topple as well and make way for real innovation and progress.
Todd Millions Comment left 20th January 2013 11:11:36
Becker's anti bacterial voltages thru silver coated needles for treating bone infections was very important-and totally ignored.Silver compounds too prevent septics is a very old treatment.It made me wonder about the silver water ewers of royalty-sitting in the sun,building up a static charge,may not have being entirely a status item. My -muse was drug up too concious,after a bout of mis diagnosed pnuemonia left me often napping exhasted-with a scroll of verses unrolling in my minds eye-powerful and beautiful stuffs.When I shifted my attention too remember it-it "dissappeared".Learning too let it thru to memory took years of-not trying. In all phases of this process a consistent aspect was striking to me-I was Receiving this.From somewhere else.Other strange and intermitent things were strenthened in this(a mixed 'blessing'due too fate and circumstance).Later I began too receive lines I knew weren't for me-yet the next night,I would dream(vison flash mode),who they were for. Now-she is dead.There will be no more glowing words on black.The receiver can only face so much betrayal.Practice doesn't change this limit.
Rodger Ricketts Comment left 20th January 2013 20:08:32
I too look forward to part 2, fascinating research, as always reported by the ISIS. Thank you! Also a good reminder to become a member again.
Brigitte Hansmann Comment left 7th March 2013 22:10:49
Thank you very much for this wonderful article, Mae Wan. Robert Becker's measurements seem to denote a positive pole in the head and negative in hands/feet and tail, while James Oschman points out that "the organism as a whole has an overall electric polarity, with the head negative with respect to the tail or feet." I asked him about it and he refers to an article by Athenstaedt who found "negative pole in cranial and positive pole in caudal directions". When I look at your illustration of the polarization in the rainbow worm in "Quantum Jazz", it seems to show the positive pole in the head, although one can't really tell which end is the head and which the tail. Do you have any thoughts or data about it? Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Theuretzbacher Helmut Comment left 2nd December 2013 15:03:42
Hi, is the books Living Rainbow in German available?? Thanks Helmut