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No. 73: Jan-Feb 1991

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Things that ain't so

Back in 1953. Irving Langmuir, the famous American physicist, gave a talk at General Electric on the subject of "pathological science." He discussed several things that could not be so. Of course, UFOs were on the list, but so was mitogenetic radiation -- radiation supposedly emitted by cells when they divide. In the context of Langmuir's talk, despite his emphatic interment of the subject, mitogenetic radiation was resurrected recently in the pages of Physics Today. A letter from V.B. Shirley included several recent scientific references that suggest that Langmuir was premature.

"The gist of these articles is that many cell systems emit ultraviolet light during or immediately before cell division and that the total effect of this emission on neighboring cells is unknown."

(Shirley, Vestel B.; "Mitogenetic Radiation: Pathology or Biology?" Physics Today, 43:130, October 1990.)

From Science Frontiers #73, JAN-FEB 1991. 1991-2000 William R. Corliss