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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

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987