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MindNet Journal - Vol. 1, No. 49
V E R I C O M M / MindNet "Quid veritas est?"
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EMF, ELF AND COLD WAR NUCLEAR GUINEA PIGS
By Jim Martin
We're ALL Test Subjects...
As I sit in front of my two-page computer screen display I am
bathed in electromagnetic fields measuring 15 milligauss. It has
become common knowledge that video display terminals (VDTs) emit
harmful electromagnetic fields, but it is less well known that
there are much stronger sources of these fields in and around
the places we visit each day. Electricity is so omnipresent in
our society that it quite discomfiting to imagine that this
ocean of electromagnetic fields may harm our health.
In his book, _Currents of Death_, (Simon & Shuster, NY, 1989)
author Paul Brodeur consolidates recent research into the
long-term effects of continuous exposure to high-power
electromagnetic fields. He also discusses the antagonism of
utility companies, the electronics industry and the military
towards such research, eerily reminiscent of the suppression of
evidence that low-level exposure to nuclear radiation was more
perilous than previously believed during the 1950s. Yet the
issue remains: there is an identifiable and not-yet-understood
link between long-term exposure to these fields and serious
For instance, in 1974 a researcher in Colorado named Nancy
Wertheimer tried to discover common factors in children who had
died of leukemia by obtaining their addresses from the Colorado
Bureau of Vital Statistics. Without looking for any one factor
in particular, she noticed that many of these houses were
located along the trunk lines stepping down from power line
transformers. Leukemia rates dropped off sharply in houses
further removed from the main trunk lines. Digging into the
issue further, she discovered that workers in occupations which
exposed them to continuously high electromagnetic fields had
developed cancer at a significantly higher rate than the rest
of the population.
An orthopedic surgeon with the US Veteran's Administration,
Dr. Robert O. Becker also became convinced of the health
hazards associated with electromagnetic fields. He had been
investigating the effects of minute electrical currents on
wound-healing in salamanders. (Animal lovers may want to turn
their heads at this point.) After amputating one of their limbs,
Becker found that the salamanders were able to regenerate that
limbs when stimulated by tiny electrical impulses. Pursuing this
research, he found that electrical stimulation speeded up the
rate of healing seriously broken bones in humans. While his
research was met with derision because current medical orthodoxy
has no explanation for such small electric impulses having any
biological effects, today we see the embodiment of this research
every Sunday on televised NFL games; if you see, on the
sidelines, an injured player hobbling on crutches that have a
strange-looking black box attached to them, you are seeing a
healing technique developed by Dr. Becker. Players call it
"getting stimmed." Becker had strong evidence of the biological
effect of electromagnetism, both beneficial and malignant, from
his research with salamanders. He was concerned about long-term
exposure, but when he spoke out he was removed from his position
with the Veteran's Administration. His discussion of this
freezing-out is in his excellent book _The Body Electric:
Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life_ (with Gary Selden,
William & Morrow Co., NY 1985). It is a useful discussion for
anyone who wants to understand how medical research functions
today. Ideas inconsistent with medical orthodoxy and
corporate/government interests are quickly killed by cutting of
Since there is no practical way to shield one's self from an
electromagnetic field, the only protection possible is to limit
one's exposure. For people in many occupations, however, this is
impossible. For instance, clerks at check-out stands are bathed
in a high-power energy field measuring over 200 milligauss that
emanates from the laser bar-code reader at waist-level. The
distinction between safe and dangerous levels of exposure have
not yet been determined, but epidemiologist David Savitz
published a study 1986 that replicated Nancy Wertheimer's study
in Colorado and found that children living near transmission
lines and subjected to exposures of only 2.5 milligauss
developed cancer at a rate 40% greater than other children.
Despite evidence such as this, many power companies have set
"safe" standards of emissions from transformers and power lines
at 100 milligauss. Even at that high level of "safety" the
check-out clerks at our supermarkets are exposed to twice the
acceptable dose, for eight hours a day.
When I approached a woman at the local supermarket to measure
the emissions from her check-out stand, her face registered
shock when the field meter I was using leapt off-scale. "So
that's why I'm always so nervous," she said.
Since we have no organ to sense changes in our
electromagnetic environment, it is often hard to notice
over-exposure. Signs include nausea, blurred vision, a metallic
taste in the mouth, and headaches. Electric blankets should be
used under no circumstances, since they emit 13-15 milligauss.
Both the symptoms and the diseases associated with exposure
to magnetic fields are consistent with the late Dr. Wilhelm
Reich's research into cancer. He identified something he called
"oranur sickness" which, like radiation poisoning, was
experienced as a metallic taste in the mouth, headaches, nausea
and blurred vision. One of the hallmarks of this oranur sickness
is that each organism reacts in its own way to it, as it attacks
the "weak point" in a biological system. For instance, one might
come down with an especially acute attack of asthma without
thinking any but "oh, there's that old asthma again" without
noticing what triggered it. It is this feature of oranur
sickness that complicates the epidemiology of magnetic fields.
Since symptoms and health breakdowns vary from person to person,
orthodox scientists can dismiss any common factor especially
subtle ones such as low-level exposure to radiation, toxic
chemicals, and electromagnetic fields. Thus, when I interviewed
residents of Dunsmuir, CA, who have been recently exposed to
toxic fumes resulting from a train derailment into the nearby
Sacramento River, they reported being told by medical workers at
the local hospital that their symptoms were "all in their
However, levels of electromagnetic radiation in our
environment can be measured if not directly sensed. Using a
small Trifield meter (available from Natural Energy Works,
POB 864, El Cerrito, CA 94530) which measures magnetic field,
electric field, and radio/microwave field strength in the
ambient atmosphere, I took readings around Fort Bragg and
Mendocino at the common stops along a typical day's business.
I was surprised that in some locations, readings were far lower
than expected, such as those next to the transformer located
next to the Mendocino Elementary School, while other locations
had far higher readings than I would have expected, such at the
bank teller's window. Here are some sample readings. Safe,
background levels of magnetic fields that are consistent with
the earth's normal emissions are around 0.5 to 1.0 milligauss
(MG). Borderline readings occur at 1.0 to 3.0 MG, and high
levels begin at 3.0 MG. (Readings are in milligauss.)
Automobile: driver's seat:.... 7
: passenger seat:... 4
: back seat:........ 2
Main St., Ft. Bragg:...................... 0.5
Macintosh Plus VDT:....................... 15
Automatic stamp machine at post office:... 8
Automatic Teller Machine:................. 8
Arcade Video Game:........................ 100
Xerox Machine:............................ 100
Safeway refrigerated isle:................ 8
Harvest Market meat case:................. 75
Harvest Market fish case:................. 4
Bar Code Reader at check-out:............. 200
Big River Substation (elementary school):. 0.5-7
These random measurements clearly show that it is virtually
impossible for any of us to remove ourselves from an ongoing,
uncontrolled experiment to test the limits of safe exposure of
EMF. The parallels between this situation, where "informed
consent" is a meaningless slogan, can be readily found in the
new disclosures surrounding Cold War radiation testing. It might
be useful, at this point, to revisit those days, when a "voice
in the wilderness" spoke out against "safe" levels of nuclear
radiation: Wilhelm Reich.
What, in the final analysis, brought the wrath of the U. S.
government down upon Wilhelm Reich, M.D.?
Space does not allow a full discussion of Reich's biography,
but those interested won't find a better place to start than
with Myron Sharaf's _Fury on Earth_. There were many dangerous
aspects to Reich's work, from advocating children's sexual
rights, or his thorough analysis of the patriarchal family in
fascism and its roots in the emotional character structures of
everyday people, and even his invention of the orgone
accumulator(1). In my view, Wilhelm Reich was imprisoned because
he stumbled onto frightening facts about nuclear radiation
during the early 1950s, a critical point in that newly developed
Simply put, Reich found that there is _no shielding possible_
against the biological effects of nuclear radiation. On January
5, 1951, in what was called the Oranur Experiment, Reich placed
a minute sample (1 milligram) of radium inside a powerful orgone
accumulator. Reich's shocking report, which can be found in the
now out-of-print _Selected Writings_, details how radiation
sickness is a function of the organism's response to the
invasive insult, and not a direct result of the radiation
poisoning itself. Thus different people may be more susceptible
to very minute doses(2), while others may feel no noticeable
effects; each person's reaction is different according to their
own emotional and biological structure.
It will be recalled that there was little understanding of
the biological effects of radiation in the 1950s. Many people
remember that soldiers were sent directly into test sites
shortly after the dust cleared from nuclear explosions. They
wore no protection and were merely dusted off afterwards. At
this writing (January, 1994) the U.S. Department of Energy has
released many documents about the true nature of America's
nuclear heritage. Dept. Secretary Hazel O'Leary has offered full
disclosure about the years of chronic abuse of an unwitting
population of human guinea pigs by the scientific establishment
and the military. So far, reports have focused on the more
insane and fascistic injection of human beings with plutonium
without informed consent. Less has been reported about the facts
that first came out: that throughout the forties and fifties the
military dropped radioactive dust over vast areas of the Western
States. To put this into perspective, the military essentially
turned each of us into a huge cohort of experimental subjects in
an on-going test of the biological effects of radiation
poisoning. President Clinton has distanced himself from Dept. of
Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, who authorized the release of
new information, characterizing her forthcoming posture as "very
There is little public understanding today of the true nature
of Reich's research. However, the military, as of 1948, was
fully advised of his findings. Indeed, the AEC provided Reich
with the radium samples he used in the Oranur Experiment.
When Reich first discovered the specifically biological
energy he called orgone, he waited before publishing until he
verified the phenomena under a variety of experimental
protocols. One such experiment, "TO-T", measured the temperature
difference between an orgone box (constructed with alternating
layers of metal and wood which create an enclosed field of
concentrated orgone), and a similarly constructed box that
lacked the metal lining, but had the same capacity for
insulation. An orgone box is generally warmer than the outside
temperature, and the temperature difference decreases as the
atmosphere contracts before a storm.
Albert Einstein was one person who found the question
intriguing enough to invite Reich to his home to demonstrate the
effect. Reich had written him a cautious letter in the hopes
that this "Father of the Atom Bomb" would recognize that the
experiments proved an exception to the Second Law of
Thermodynamics, the law of entropy, which requires that equal
volumes tend to equalize in temperature.
Reich traveled to Princeton with several devices with which
to demonstrate the orgone energy. He described his long session
with Einstein as a meeting of minds. Einstein observed the
phenomena, and said, "If this is true, it would be a bombshell
for Physics." Einstein met once again with Reich and then
suddenly dropped the matter. Einstein's biographers have
painted this meeting in a ridiculous light, saying it was an
example of Einstein's eccentricity. Perhaps, but their exchange
of letters, which Reich published later, belies this
This is important to remember: whatever the validity of
Reich's conclusions, _the phenomena he observed_, which alone
stand in stark contrast to any high school physics text, _was in
fact real, corroborated and sustained against objections_.
The FDA launched a multi-million dollar investigation of the
orgone accumulator, declared it a fraud, and set about bringing
criminal proceedings against Reich. Reich's FBI files reveal a
blistering blizzard of letters directed towards getting rid of
Reich from doctors in the AMA, ministers of Christian youth
crusades, and one from the Atomic Energy Commission advising the
FDA what "a thorn in the side" Reich had been.
Reich never sold more than 500 copies a year of any one of
his self-published books while he was alive. That an obscure,
new line of research posed such a threat to the medical
establishment is on its face inconceivable. Reich had first made
contact with the Atomic Energy Commission on April 30, 1948, to
discuss unusually high Geiger counter readings in connection
with his orgonomic research. It would still be three years
before Reich embarked on the Oranur Project, a controlled
experiment dealing directly with the biological effects of
radiation poisoning. In between, Reich kept the AEC completely
informed of his research via meetings, letters and phone calls,
as he grew closer and closer to an essential national security
issue (i.e., keeping the public in the dark about the real
danger associated with radioactivity), while simply trying to
figure out why he was getting such unusually high readings on
his Geiger counters.
In re-reading his original documentation, I was impressed
with Reich's ability to distinguish between observed facts,
corroborated by others; new theories drawn from and supported by
these facts; and finally speculation based upon insufficient
evidence. Of utmost importance in his research method was an
awareness of the attitude of the observer, basic trust in one's
own perceptions and observations. Although he alerted them when
his Geiger counters told him something was amiss, he did not
trust the response offered by the AEC: don't worry, everything
is fine. In this as in other matters he seems to have been
Reich's intent for the Oranur Experiment was to investigate
the treatment of radiation sickness with the orgone accumulator.
For years, he had success in treating terminal "lost-cause"
cancer patients with the medical device although he never
claimed having found a cure, as the FDA would charge. Since
it was well known that radiation sickness could lead to
leukemia, Reich planned to investigate the matter at his
laboratory in Rangeley, Maine.
As Oranur research progressed, it was decided to test the
effect of orgone-charged radium on lab mice in comparison to
untreated radium. In preparation for this, a sample of radium
was placed in a 20-layer accumulator. After five hours, Reich
subjectively noticed a change in the atmosphere, which he
described as heavy and oppressive. This subjective change was
verified when Geiger counters in the room went off-scale.
Workers in the area suffered all the classic symptoms of
radiation poisoning. They had discovered the Oranur Effect.
When the radium sample was removed from the accumulator,
it was placed in a steel-and-concrete safe away from living
quarters. Yet the noxious effects, as well as abnormally high
Geiger readings persisted in the accumulator and the room in
which it was situated. It was as if the atmospheric orgone had
"run amok", as Reich put it, concluding that the placement of
the radium inside the accumulator had set off an atmospheric
chain-reaction which persisted long after it had been removed.
The next morning, the mice were dying even though they were in
an adjacent room, and Reich awoke with a full-body tan in the
dead of a Maine winter.
Reich would subsequently state that "it is the organismic
OR [orgone] energy within living bodies which continues to
react to the NR [nuclear radiation] material for months and
even years." In checking background counts around the safe in
which the orgone-charged radium had been disposed, he discovered
a more disturbing phenomena: that the steel and concrete
enclosure itself comprised an orgone accumulator and that the
Oranur effect was still evident. It's hard to discount Reich's
documentation of all this, given the complete records and
corroboration of his coworkers. He found a persistent,
overcharged atmosphere continuing long after the experiment had
been concluded. _The New York Times_ (2/3/51) reported that
there were unusually high background radiation levels recorded
from Rochester, New York to Canada during the last week of
There was a bright side. Both the experimental mice that had
survived and the workers involved with the project exhibited
full recovery and more: they were far better able to withstand
the effects of radiation in subsequent work. Reich had found
what he was looking for. There were positive indications that
Reich had found a method of _immunizing against the effects of
By then, the FDA was mounting its case against Reich, aimed
first at silencing him on the question of orgone energy. He had
been ordered by the FDA and federal courts to cease distribution
of the orgone accumulator. When an assistant, Dr. Michael
Silvert, transported the devices across state lines, he and
Reich were charged with the violation of the court injunction.
Unbelievably, the 59 year-old scientist, researcher, and teacher
was sentenced to two years in prison and, as with many people
his age, this proved to be a death sentence.
The rest of the story is now known. It's estimated that it
will cost $200 billion to clean up after the nuclear testing of
the Cold War. But are we all participating in a new experiment
to establish safe levels of electromagnetic fields?
Chronology of Radiation and Biowarfare Testing Disclosures
Dr. Joseph G. Hamilton at University of California
Hospital in San Francisco proposes a radioactive aerosol as a
military weapon. Tests lethal-dose exposure on terminal
patients. One of the "terminal patients" had been misdiagnosed;
he only had an ulcer. (L.A. Times 2/8/94)
Miami, FL; radioactive needles placed in Army private's
Vanderbilt University Medical Center; 751 late-term
pregnant women given radioactive water 30 times background
radiation at a free clinic. (L.A. Times 2/8/94)
12 "battlefield radiation" tests conducted over
Tennessee and Utah. Air Force drops radioactive cluster bombs
dispersing as much as 15,000 curies in open-air fallout tests.
(L.A. Times 12/16/94)
San Francisco: ships spray city with bacteria from offshore.
Virginia: Aspergillus fumagatus, a lethal bacteria, released
upon workers, mainly black, at Norfolk Naval Supply Center.
(L.A. Times 2/8/94)
Nationwide test: 235 newborns and infants injected with
radioactive iodide. In Memphis, 6 of 7 newborns selected were
black. No one kept track of the subjects, who are now 39 or 40
years old. (St. Louis Post Dispatch 12/25/93)
Marshall Islands: Navy moves its ships and personnel when it
learns of a wind change prior to above-ground testing. Fails to
relocate native islanders as well.
Chico, CA: 140 tons of hot shit (radioactive dog feces)
accumulates at DOE facility (aka UC Davis Laboratory for
Energy-Related Health Research, also known as the "Beagle Club"
by former workers) near UC Davis, where 1,200 beagles were fed,
injected with, and exposed to radiation, including tritium. One
worker has claimed that the sewage system has at times
overflowed into Putah Creek, near Lake Berryessa.
(L.A. Times 2/8/94)
Eskimos in N. Alaska, few of whom spoke English at the time,
were given an apple and an orange for their participation in
Army tests to inject them with radioactive iodine.
(L.A. Times 2/8/94)
British smuggle radioactive debris in a diplomatic pouch
on regular commercial airline.
34 underground nuclear tests in the U.S. release
radiation into the atmosphere.
Massachusetts: Retarded children at the Fernald School in
Waltham given low-dose radiation in their cereal.
1500 military personnel given LSD by US Army Chemical
Nerve Gas agent kills 6,000 sheep in Utah. (NYT 2/25/94)
Prisoners in Oregon and Washington agree to have their
testicles dipped in radioactive water for $5.00 a week.
Russia, Arzamas-16; elite Vympel (Pennant) commando units
stage a "terrorist attack" and quickly seize nuclear bomb
factory, to test security at Soviet Military facilities.
Vympel also thwarted an attempt to steal fissionable material
from a plant in the Urals. However, when Vympel refused
President Boris Yeltsin's order to storm the parliament house
in October, 1992, they refused and talked the opposition out
instead, which was seen as a capitulation. Yeltsin
transferred Vympel under the control of the Interior Ministry,
whereupon the majority of commandos resigned their commissions.
Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.) asked the White House to
investigate any radiation testing that may have been done on US
troops during the Gulf War.
Chernobyl nuclear power station declared unsafe by the
International Atomic Energy Association. Officials now admit
that thousands died in the blast, and the subsequent
clean-up takes up 12% of the Ukranian national budget.
An estimated cost of $200 billion to clean up after the
nuclear research of the Cold War, nationwide.
30 deaths from Hanta viruses, long a focus of military
There remains no independent scientific or ethical review
of human testing conducted by military and intelligence
The Department of Energy funds 175 human test studies
involving 725,000 people. (AP 4/5/94) The Nuclear Regulatory
Commission reports that it licenses as many as 200 of the
largest medical institutions in the country to conduct human
research. (AP 2/3/94)
(1) For a full discussion of current experimental evidence
concerning the operation of the orgone accumulator and its
beneficial use in healing see The Orgone Accumulator Handbook,
by James DeMeo, PhD., Natural Energy Works, POB 864, El Cerrito,
(2) A former worker at the San Onofre Power Plant sues
over a rare form of leukemia 1/94. Since she had never
been exposed to levels of radiation deemed "unsafe" by the
Department of Energy, and having a cancer which has been
positively linked to radioactive exposure, the issue the court
must decide is whether any level of exposure can be deemed
(3) Reich, W. The Einstein Affair. Orgone Institute Press,
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