Register for updates

 
 

Biology & Evolution
RSS Feed
Lightning's Electromagnetic Fields May Have Protective Properties
Friday, February 08, 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

New Antibacterial Fillings from TAU May Combat Recurring Tooth Decay

Novel material may prevent one of the costliest and most prevalent bacterial diseases in the world.

First Proof-of-Concept Demonstrates Genetic Sex Selection in Mammals

Crossed transgenic mouse lines struck males without affecting females, TAU researchers say.

2019 Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival Looks to the Future

International students, filmmakers and glitterati flock to 21st edition of festival, held throughout the city of Tel Aviv.

TAU Scientist Prof. Judith Berman Is Elected Member of European Molecular Biology Organization

EMBO promotes excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond.

Fruit Bats Can Transform Echoes Into Images

Bats see and use their eyes as much as they hear and use echolocation, TAU researchers say.

TAU Ranks Among World's Top 20 Universities for Impact of Scientific Research

QS World University Rankings assess performance of over 1,000 universities in 82 locations worldwide.

8,000 Cyber Security Experts to Attend 9th Annual Cyber Week Conference at TAU

Weeklong event features world's top cyber security experts in government, military, industry and academia.

Study Shows How the Nervous System Can Transmit Information Across Multiple Generations

Mechanism identified in nematodes allows neurons to communicate with germ cells, TAU researchers say.

TAU Researchers Spearhead Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease

New method tracks early stages of protein aggregation involved in Parkinson's.

Inauguration of the Ady Seidman Lobby

Attractive large entrance hall honors the memory of one of the founding fathers of TAU's Engineering Faculty.

contentSecondary
c

© 2019 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