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Comment on "Constraints on biological effects of weak extremely-low-frequency electromagnetic fields"

Kirschvink, Joseph L. (1992) Comment on "Constraints on biological effects of weak extremely-low-frequency electromagnetic fields". Physical Review A, 46 (4). pp. 2178-2184. ISSN 1050-2947. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.46.2178.

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In a recent paper, Adair [Phys. Rev. A 43, 1039 (1991)] concludes that weak extremely-low-frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields cannot affect biology on the cell level. However, Adair’s assertion that few cells of higher organisms contain magnetite (Fe_(3)O_4) and his blanket denial of reproducible ELF effects on animals are both wrong. Large numbers of single-domain magnetite particles are present in a variety of animal tissues, including up to a hundred million per gram in human brain tissues, organized in clusters of tens to hundreds of thousand per gram. This is far more than a "few cells." Similarly, a series of reproducible behavioral experiments on honeybees, Apis mellifera, have shown that they are capable of responding to weak ELF magnetic fields that are well within the bounds of Adair’s criteria. A biologically plausible model of the interaction of single-domain magnetosomes with a mechanically activated transmembrane ion channel shows that ELF fields on the order of 0.1 to 1 mT are capable of perturbing the open-closed state by an energy of kT. As up to several hundred thousand such structures could fit within a eukaryotic cell, and the noise should go as the square root of the number of independent channels, much smaller ELF sensitivities at the cellular level are possible. Hence, the credibility of weak ELF magnetic effects on living systems must stand or fall mainly on the merits and reproducibility of the biological or epidemiological experiments that suggest them, rather than on dogma about physical implausibility.

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Kirschvink, Joseph L.0000-0001-9486-6689
Additional Information:© 1992 American Physical Society. Received 20 January 1992; published in the issue dated August 1992. Supported in part by NIH Grant No. GM-41635 and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Contract No. RP2965-8. I thank S. J. Kirschvink, J. Diaz-Ricci, C. Rafferty, and J. J. Hopfield.
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Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)RP2965-8
Issue or Number:4
Classification Code:PACS: 87.50.Eg, 87.22.Bt
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130306-112318925
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:37344
Deposited On:06 Mar 2013 22:17
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:28

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