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No. 57: May-Jun 1988

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Morphic Resonance In Silicon Chips

Silicon chips can be made to assume various electronic configurations. In this, they are morphic, like the cattle guards under Biology; and Sheldrake's hypothesis of morphic resonance should also apply. Two French researchers, F.J. Varela and J.C. Letelier, have applied a microcomputer in testing Sheldrake's theory. Briefly, they cleared the computer's memory and had it "grow a crystal" in the form of a unique, or at least very rare electronic state in the computer memory. Once this has been done, the time taken for the same pattern to be grown in subsequent attempts should become less and less.

One of Sheldrake's major claims is that once a new crystal is synthesized it thereafter becomes easier and easier to resynthesize it -- due to the presence of morphogenic fields. But Varela and Letelier found that, even after 100 million crystallizations, no acceleration of the growing process was detectable. The authors conclude that either Sheldrake's hypothesis is falsified or that it does not apply to silicon chips.

(Varela, Francisco, and Letelier, Juan C.; "Morphic Resonance in Silicon Chips," Skeptical Inquirer, 12:298, 1988.)

Comment. At least one other interpretation is possible: the particular "crystal" grown in the computer had actually been synthesized many times before by other computers within the range of morphogenic fields.

From Science Frontiers #57, MAY-JUN 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss