biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow biophotons lights

Biophotons do exist, but then so what?

That certain chemical reactions can result in the emission of light we learned at school and that fireflies and other light-producing organisms make use of such reactions we see in Nature. Lights like these are visible and intense. But what if organisms exist that produce light, which is so weak that we cannot perceive it? Are there any such organisms and if so, would such weak lights be of any use to them at all? These are questions Drs. Popp in Germany, Van Wijk in the Netherlands, Bajpai in India, Inaba in Japan, and Quickenden in Australia, amongst others, have been grappling with for years.

Ultraweak light emissions were discovered by the Russian scientist Alexander Gurwitsch more than 80 years ago and since then have been detected in numerous species of plants and animals like, to name but a few, yeast, onion, cucumber, Helianthus, wheat seedlings, earthworms, frogs and rats, and in tissues as diverse as human blood, liver, etc. Ultraweak photon emissions appear to be a universal phenomenon of living organisms, from bacteria to human beings. The detection of its widespread distribution and the research to explain its origin have only been made possible since highly sensitive and dedicated photon counting devices with extremely low noise became available.

Results of this research have shown that all living systems spontaneously emit fluctuating signals in a squeezed state. Non-living systems do not show this feature and thus, ultraweak photon emissions have nothing to do with the celebrated Kirlian images of halos around living and non-living objects (for example leaves and coins, respectively). But what causes organisms to send out photons? And ought there not to be some individuals who are sensitive to them? The first question seems to have been resolved: metabolic reactions in living cells involve oxidation processes, primarily those of lipids, by free radicals. Experimentally pyrogallol, a natural tannin-derived product from plants, has been reported to emit visible (bio?) photons when mixed with H2O2 and potato juice (Harvey, 1920).

One consequence of such reactions is the spontaneous and very weak emission of light covering the range from ultraviolet over visible light to near-infrared radiation. Attempts have been made (and are in progress) to utilize the phenomenon in detecting or even treating tumours. But speculations also abound as to whether this phenomenon could explain the “aura” that some people claim to recognize around a person. As a scientist, I am naturally sceptical and know of failed tests to prove the existence of an aura and its perception by humans. I know that any amount of biophoton emission would be drowned out by the surrounding environmental light and that even in total darkness our eyes would be far too insensitive to detect this kind of radiation. And yet, I once had a down-to-earth, completely physically and mentally healthy technician, who once confided in me that she often perceived auras around people. Still, she did not like to tell them or reveal to others anything about her ‘ability’, lest she’d be branded weird or abnormal.

Another recent and as yet experimentally unproven speculation is that weak biophoton emissions, stemming from the metabolic activities of retinal and brain cells, are the reason behind shifting and fluctuating streaks, shades, spots, and patches of light (known scientifically as ‘phosphenes’) that we notice when we close our eyes. Do we possess some dormant or unknown biophoton detecting equipment and if so can it be adapted to a desired state? Do prayers, meditation, breathing exercises help acquire or ‘switch on’ this capability? I’d file all this speculation under “pseudo-science” (not real science), but at the same time, I know that real scientists need to keep an open mind.

© Dr V.B. Meyer-Rochow and, 2020.
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