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The Photonics Spotlight

The Science of Biophotons

Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta

A few years ago I read a book by Prof. Fritz-Albert Popp. It is in German, titled “Die Botschaft der Nahrung” (“The Message of Food”), and is very much inspired by the discovery of biophotons. There is also a number of other publications of Popp on biophotons, including some material which can easily be found on the Internet (see e.g. the article "About the Coherence of Biophotons (1)").

To begin with, these biophotons really exist; they are photons emitted by living organisms, i.e. bioluminescence. While a few organisms, such as certain deep sea fish, emit quite considerable intensities (thus being easily visible), much lower levels of light, which can just be detected e.g. with photomultipliers, can be found in all kinds of other living beings. Concerning all the rest, I leave to the readers to decide whether they want to believe that.

Invisible radiation is known to be very inspiring, and that particular case is really entertaining. To get the flavor, consider some of the presented statements:

Looking e.g. at the above quoted article on the coherence of biophotons, you will find that it looks very scientific indeed, with well-known equations, various diagrams, acronyms, references, etc. Some of that material has been published in well-known journals. (Does that remind me of Sokal?) Additional credibility is derived from citing famous researchers such as Ilya Prigogine, Erwin Schrödinger, and others. So you should probably consider yourself as a fool if you still have any doubts. And who knows, by eating a fly which has been sitting on your computer screen for a while you may be able to incorporate a part of the information of the Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology… If not, the limited bandwidth of the emitting phosphors of your screen may offer an explanation: this artificial kind of radiation may not have been able to hit the fly with sufficient order and precision.

Perhaps I should also mention that of course one should assess the credibility and quality of every bit of research on biophotons on its own, rather than developing a generalized opinion on the whole field.

This article is a posting of the Photonics Spotlight, authored by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta. You may link to this page, because its location is permanent. See also the Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology.

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