Register for updates

 
 

Biology & Evolution
RSS Feed
Lightning's Electromagnetic Fields May Have Protective Properties
Friday, February 8, 2019 9:00:00 AM

Extremely low frequency fields may have played an evolutionary role in living organisms, say TAU researchers

Lightning was the main electromagnetic presence in the Earth's atmosphere long before the invention of electricity. There are some 2,000 thunderstorms active at any given time, so humans and other organisms have been bathed in extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields for billions of years.

These electromagnetic fields — the result of global lightning activity known as Schumann Resonances — are weak and difficult to detect. Scientists never suspected that they had any tangible impact on life on Earth. But a new Tel Aviv University study finds that these fields may have protective properties for organisms living under stress conditions.

Research for the study was led by Prof. Colin Price of TAU's Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and conducted by his doctoral student Gal Elhalel in collaboration with Profs. Asher Shainberg and Dror Fixler of Bar Ilan University. It was published in Nature Scientific Reports on February 7.

"We found that under controlled conditions, the Schumann Resonance fields certainly had an effect on living tissues," Prof. Price says. "The most important effect was that the atmospheric ELF fields actually protected cells under stress conditions. In other words, when biological cells are under stress — due to lack of oxygen, for example — the atmospheric fields from lightning appear to protect them from damage. This may be related to the evolutionary role these fields have played on living organisms."

In the course of numerous laboratory experiments, in which the scientists induced fields similar to those in the atmosphere, they witnessed significant effects on living heart cells of rats within 30-40 minutes. Extremely weak magnetic fields in the 7.6-8Hz frequency range induced a number of effects when applied to rat cardiac cells, including reductions in spontaneous contractions, calcium transients and the release of Creatine Kinase (CK). (The release of CK into the liquid medium around the cardiac cells is a measure of damage to cardiac cells, which also occurs during heart attacks.) The scientists found that the effects were temporary, as the induced cell changes reversed when the fields were turned off.

"It is the first study that demonstrates a link between global lighting activity and the Schumann Resonances and the activity of living cells," Prof. Price says. "It may explain why all living organisms have electrical activity in the same ELF spectral range, and it is the first time such a connection has been shown. This may have some therapeutic implications down the line, since these ELF fields appear to protect cells from damage, but this requires further research."

Prof. Price and his team are expanding their research to other types of biological cells to see if there is a similar effect of these electromagnetic fields on other cell types.




Latest News

Milner Foundation Donates $3 Million to Magen David Adom, TAU and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov)

This "critical injection of oxygen" is expected to increase coronavirus remote testing and research.

New Sleep Method Strengthens Brain’s Ability to Retain Memories

Process that uses smell can strengthen memories stored in one side of the brain, say TAU, Weizmann researchers.

High Blood Pressure in Young Adulthood Associated With Cognitive Decline and Gait Impairment in Middle Age

TAU, Northwestern University study follows the blood pressure of dozens of people over a 30-year period.

TAU Researchers Discover Unique Non-Oxygen Breathing Animal

The tiny relative of the jellyfish is parasitic and dwells in salmon tissue.

TAU Researchers Discover Receptor Chain Involved in Atopic Dermatitis

Researchers also formulate a novel antibody capable of blocking the development of the skin condition in mice.

Disease Found in Fossilized Dinosaur Tail Afflicts Humans To This Day

The rare disease LCH discovered in the remains of a dinosaur that lived in Canada at least 60 million years ago, TAU researchers say.

TAU Researchers Demonstrate Optical Backflow of Light

"Abnormal" behavior predicted more than 50 years ago may help scientists probe the atmosphere and gauge the environment.

Induced Flaws in Metamaterials Can Produce Useful Textures and Behavior

Discovery advances the understanding of structural defects and their topological properties, TAU researchers say.

Iron Age Temple Complex Discovered Near Jerusalem Calls Into Question Biblical Depiction of Centralized Cult

Tel Moẓa site proves there were other sanctioned temples besides the official temple in Jerusalem, TAU researchers say.

contentSecondary
c

© 2020 American Friends of Tel Aviv University
39 Broadway, Suite 1510 | New York, NY 10006 | 212.742.9070 | info@aftau.org
Privacy policy | Tel Aviv University