5. Theoretical Physics (CSN4)

Biophotons: general aspects and new experimental data

by Maurizio Benfatto (LNF)

Aula Seminari (LNF)

Aula Seminari


Via Enrico Fermi, 40 00044 Frascati (Roma)
Almost one hundred years ago the Russian biologist A. Gurwitsch found that a weak ultra-violet radiation comes out from the living tissues and influences the mitotic activity of the neighboring organisms. He called this radiation “mitogenetic radiation”. However, this interesting result has been forgotten by the scientific community and the mitogenetic radiation was then considered as an artifact. With the improvement of the methods to detect weak level of radiation and the increase of understanding of quantum optics, there has been a renewed interest in this phenomenon with the works of Colli and Facchini in the 50s and F.A. Popp in the 80s. At the present this research is a new field called “biophotonics”. Biophotons are an endogenous production of ultra-weak photon emission in and from cells and organisms and this emission is characteristic of alive organisms. The essential characteristics of biophoton emission are the following: 1. The total intensity of the emission goes from several to some hundred photons per cm2 surface of the living system. 2. The spectral intensity seems to be quite flat within the range of at least 300 and 800 nm and does not show any defined peaks around some specific frequencies. 3. After excitation by white and/or monochromatic light the emission increases of almost a factor ten and relaxes to the normal values quite slowly following a hyperbolic function rather than an exponential low. 4. The photocount statistics that account for the probability of having n photons within some time interval seems to follow a Poissonian distribution. 5. External influences, like for example the changing of temperature, the use of chemical agent, produces a strong change in the photon emission. Despite the wealth of experimental phenomenology the questions of what biophotons are, how they are generated and how they are involved in the life are still opened. Actually there are two hypotheses about the origin of such emission, i.e. the so called “imperfection theory” and the “coherence theory”. The first one claims that there is always a finite probability that molecules randomly excited by metabolic events can decay with the emission of photons instead of radiationless dissipation processes. The second hypothesis assign the emission to a coherent electromagnetic field generated within and between the cells by some physiological process. In this talk we present a review of this topic with our new measurements regarding germinating seeds.