DC currents of Becker. Part I: Becker's and other's findings
Robert Becker proposed on basis of his experimental work that living matter behaves as a semiconductor in a wide range of length scales ranging from brain scale to the scale of entire body. Direct currents flowing only in preferred direction would be essential for the functioning of living manner in this framework.
One of the basic ideas of TGD inspired theory of living matter is that various currents, even ionic currents, are quantal currents. The first possibility is that they are Josephson currents associated with Josephson junctions but already this assumption more or less implies also quantal versions of direct currents. The TGD inspired quantum model for nerve pulse assumes that quantal ionic currents through the cell membrane are Josephson currents so that the situation is automatically stationary. One can criticize this assumption since the Compton length of ions for the ordinary value of Planck constant is so small that magnetic flux tubes carrying the current through the membrane look rather long in this length scale. Therefore either Planck constant should be rather large or one should have a non-ohmic quantum counterpart of a direct current in the case of ions and perhaps also protons in the case of neuronal membrane: electronic and perhaps also protonic currents could be still Josephson currents. This would conform with the low dissipation rate.
The notion of direct current is indeed familiar already from the work of Robert Becker and in the following the results related to laser induced healing, acupuncture, and DC currents are discussed first. The obvious question is whether these direct currents are actually currents and whether they could be universal in living matter. A TGD inspired model for quantal direct currents is proposed and its possible implications for the model of nerve pulse are discussed. Whether the model is consistent with the vacuum extremal property remains an open question.
I have divided the blog posting to three parts. The postings can be found at my homepage as an article with homepage title Quantum Model for the Direct Currents of Becker.
Connection between laser induced healing, acupuncture, and association of DC currents with the healing of wounds
The findings of Robert Becker (the book Electromagnetism and Life by Becker and Marino can be found from web) meant a breakthrough in the development of bioelectromagnetics. One aspect of bioelectromagnetic phenomena was the discovery of Becker that DC currents and voltages play a pivotal role in various regeneration processes. Why this is the case is still poorly understood and Becker's book is a treasure trove for anyone ready to challenge existing dogmas. The general vision guiding Becker can be summarized by a citation from the introduction of the book.
Growth effects include the alteration of bone growth by electromagnetic energy, the restoration of partial limb regeneration in mammals by small direct currents, the inhibition of growth of implanted tumors by currents and fields, the effect upon cephalocaudal axis development in the regenerating flatworm in a polarity-dependent fashion by applied direct currents, and the production of morphological alterations in embryonic development by manipulation of the electrochemical species present in the environment. This partial list illustrates the great variety of known bioelectromagnetic phenomena.
The reported biological effects involve basic functions of living material that are under remarkably precise control by mechanisms which have, to date, escaped description in terms of solution biochemistry. This suggests that bioelectromagnetic phenomena are fundamental attributes of living things - ones that must have been present in the first living things. The traditional approach to biogenesis postulates that life began in an aqueous environment, with the development of complex molecules and their subsequent sequestration from the environment by membranous structures. The solid-state approach proposes an origin in complex crystalline structures that possess such properties as semiconductivity, photoconductivity, and piezoelectricity. All of the reported effects of electromagnetic forces seem to lend support to the latter hypothesis.
Observations relating to CNS
The following more quantitative findings, many of them due to Becker, are of special interest as one tries to understand the role of DC currents in TGD framework.
- CNS and the rest of perineural tissue (tissue surrounding neurons including also ∈dexglial cellglial cells) form a dipole like structure with neural system in positive potential and perineural tissue in negative potential. There is also an electric field along neuron in the direction of nerve pulse propagation (dendrites correspond to - and axon to +) (note that motor nerves and sensory nerves form a closed loop). Also microtubules within axon carry electric field and these fields are probably closely related by the many-sheeted variants of Gauss's and Faraday's laws implying that voltages along two different space-time sheets in contact at two points are same in a static situation.
- A longitudinal potential along front to back in brain with frontal lobes in negative potential with respect to occipital lobes and with magnitude of few mV was discovered. The strength of the electric field correlates with the level of consciousness. As the potential becomes weaker and changes sign, consciousness is lost. Libet and Gerard observed traveling waves of potentials across the cortical layers (with speeds of about 6 m/s: TGD inspired model of nerve pulse predicts this kind of waves kenociteallb/pulse ). Propagating potentials were discovered also in glial cells. The interpretation was in terms of electrical currents.
- It was found that brain injury generated positive polarization so that the neurons ceased to function in an area much larger than the area of injury. Negative shifts of neuronal potentials were associated with incoming sensory stimuli and motor activity whereas sleep was associated with a positive shift. Very small voltages and currents could modulate the firing of neurons without affecting the resting potential. The "generating" potentials in sensory receptors inducing nerve pulse were found to be graded and non-propagating and the sign of the generating potential correlated with sensory input (say increase/reduction of pressure). Standard wisdom about cell membrane has difficulties in explaining these findings.
- The natural hypothesis was that these electric fields are accompanied by DC currents. There are several experimental demonstrations for this. For instance, the deflection of assumed DC currents by external magnetic field (Hall effect) was shown to lead to a loss of consciousness.
Observations relating to regeneration
The second class of experiments used artificial electrical currents to enhance regeneration of body parts. These currents are nowadays used in clinical practice to induce healing or retard tumor growth. Note that tissue regeneration is a genuine regeneration of an entire part of organism rather than mere simple cell replication. Salamander limb generation is one of the most studied examples. Spontaneous regeneration becomes rare at higher evolutionary levels and for humans it occurs spontaneously only in the fractures of long bones.
- An interesting series of experiments on Planaria, a species of simple flatworm with a primitive nervous system and simple head-to-tail axis of organization, was carried out. Electrical measurements indicated a simple head-tail dipole field. The animal had remarkable regenerative powers; it could be cut transversely into a number of segments, all of which would regenerate a new total organism. The original head-tail axis was preserved in each regenerate, with that portion nearest the original head end becoming the head of the new organism. The hypothesis was that the original head-tail electrical vector persisted in the cut segments and provided the morphological information for the regenerate. The prediction was that the reversal of the electrical gradient by exposing the cut surface to an external current source of proper orientation should produce some reversal of the head-tail gradient in the regenerate. While performing the experiment it was found found that as the current levels were increased the first response was to form a head at each end of the regenerating segment. With still further increases in the current the expected reversal of the head-tail gradient did occur, indicating that the electrical gradient which naturally existed in these animals was capable of transmitting morphological information.
- Tissue regeneration occurs only if some minimum amount of neural tissue is present suggesting that CNS plays a role in the process although the usual neural activity is absent. The repeated needling of the stump had positive effect on regeneration and the DC current was found to be proportional to innervation. Hence needling seems to stimulate innervation or at least inducing formation of DC currents. Something like this might occur also in the case of acupuncture.
- Regeneration involves de-differentiation of cells to form a blastema from which the regenerated tissue is formed. Quite early it was learned that carcinogens induce de-differentiation of cells because of their steric properties and by making electron transfer possible and that denervation induces tumor formation. From these findings Becker concluded that the formation of blastema could be a relatively simple process analogous to tumor growth whereas the regeneration proper is a complex self-organization process during which the control by signals from CNS are necessary and possibly realized in terms of potential waves.
- Regeneration is possible in salamander but not in frog. This motivated Becker and collaborators to compare these situations. In an amputated leg of both salamander and frog the original negative potential of or order -1 mV went first positive value of order +10 mV. In frog it returned smoothly to its original value without regeneration. In salamander it returned during three days to the original base line and then went to a much higher negative value around -20 mV (resting potential is around -70 mV) followed by a return to the original value as regeneration had occurred. Thus the large negative potential is necessary for the regeneration and responsible for the formation of blastema. Furthermore, artificial electron current induced regeneration also in the case of frog and in even in the denervated situation. Thus the flow of electrons to the stump is necessary for the formation of blastema and the difference between salamander and frog is that frog is not able to provide the needed electronic current although positive potential is present.
- It was also learned that a so called neural epidermic junction (NEJ) formed in the healing process of salamander stump was responsible for the regeneration in the presence of nervation. The conclusion was that the DC voltage and electronic current relevant for regeneration can be assigned the interface between CNS and tissue rather than with the entire nerve and regeneration seems to be a local process, perhaps a feed of metabolic energy driving self-organization. Furthermore, NEJ seems to make possible the flow of electrons from CNS to the stump.
- The red blood cells of animals other than mammals are complete and possess thus nuclei.
Becker and collaborators observed that also red blood cells dedifferentiated to form blastema.
Being normally in a quiescent state, they are ideal for studying de-differentiation. It was found that electric current acted as a trigger at the level of cell membrane inducing de-differentiation reflected as an increased amount of mRNA serving as signal for gene expression. Also pulsed magnetic field was found to trigger the de-differentiation, perhaps via induced electric field. By the way, the role of the cell membrane fits nicely with the view about DNA-cell membrane system as topological quantum computer with magnetic flux tubes connecting DNA and cell membrane serving as braids.
- The experiments of Becker and collaborators support the identification of the charge carriers of DC currents responsible for the formation of large negative potential of stump as electrons. The test was based on the different temperature dependence of electronic and protonic conductivities. Electronic conductivity increases with temperature and protonic conductivity decreases and an increase was observed. In TGD based model also super-conducting charge carriers are possible and this finding does not tell anything about them.
Gene activation by electrostatic fields?
The basic question concerns the method of activation. The discovery of chemists Guido Ebner and Guido Schuerch raises the hope that these ideas might be more than over-active imagination and their work also provides a concrete proposal for the activation mechanism. Ebner and Schuerch studied the effect of electrostatic fields on the growth and morphogenesis of various organisms. Germ, seeds, or eggs were placed between conducting plates creating an electric field in the range .5-2 kV/m: note that the Earth's electric field is in the range .1-4 kV/m and of the same order of magnitude.
The outcome was rather surprising and in the year 1989 their employer Ciba Geigy (now Novaris) applied for a patent "Method of enhanced fish breeding" for what is called Ciba Geigy effect. The researchers describe how fishes (trouts) develop and grow much better, if their eggs have been conditioned in an electrostatic field. The researchers report kenocitebneu/docu that also the morphology of the fishes was altered to what seems to represent an ancient evolutionary form: this was not mentioned in the patent.
The chemists founded their own Institute of Pharmaceutical Research near Basel, where Guido Ebner applied for another very detailed patent, which was never granted (it is not difficult to guess the reasons why!). In the patent he describes the effect of electrostatic fields on several life forms (cress, wheat, corn, fern, micro-organisms, bacteria) in their early stage of development. A clear change in the morphogenesis was observed. For instance, in one example fern had all sort of leaves in single plant apparently providing a series of snapshots about the evolution of the plant. The evolutionary age of the first leaf appeared to be about 300 million years whereas the last grown-up leaf looked close to its recent form.
If one takes these finding seriously, one must consider the possibility that the exposure to an electrostatic field can activate passive genes and change the gene expression so that older morphologies are expressed. The activation of not yet existing morphologies is probably more difficult since strong consistency conditions must be satisfied (activation of program requires activation of a proper hardware). This would suggest that genome is a kind of archive containing also older genomes even potential genomes or that topological quantum computer programs (see this) kenociteallb/dnatqc determine the morphology to certain extent and that external conditions such as electric field determine the self-organization patters characterizing these programs.
It is known that the developing embryo has an electric field along the head-tail axis and that this field plays an important role in the control of growth. These fields are much weaker than the fields used in the experiment. p-Adic length scale hierarchy however predicts an entire hierarchy of electric fields and living matter is indeed known to be full of electret structures. The strength of the electric field in some p-adic length scale related to DNA might somehow serve as the selector of the evolutionary age. The recapitulation of phylogeny during the ontogeny could mean a gradual shift of the activated part of the memone, perhaps assignable to tqc programs, and be controlled by the gradually evolving electric field strength.
The finding that led Ebner to his discovery was that it was possible to "wake up" ancient bacteria by an exposure to an electrostatic field. The interpretation would be in terms of loading of metabolic batteries. This would also suggest that in the case of primitive life forms like bacteria the electric field of Earth has served as metabolic energy source whereas in higher life forms endogenous electric fields have taken the role of Earth's electric field.