THE BODY ELECTRIC: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life by

THE BODY ELECTRIC: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life

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Electrical stimulation--from practical to fanciful. Becker is an orthopedic surgeon and research scientist who, with his colleagues at the VA hospital in Syracuse (and others elsewhere), has successfully used electrical currents to enhance and accelerate the healing of fractures--especially those bone breaks that don't heal normally and are known as ""non-union"" fractures. Electrical stimulation using implanted batteries and wires at the fracture site is now recognized as a useful modality, though no one is sure why it works. Becker offers a variety of hypotheses including the possibility that the components of bone tissue may act like semiconductors. He also suggests that there may be nerve currents important in healing that are generated by supporting cells of the nervous system such as the sheath cells surrounding nerve fibers. Nerve fibers themselves are also given credit in the healing process, particularly when the nerve endings make contact with epidermal tissue at the wound site. In the second half of the narrative, however, Becker goes on in much more visionary or alarmist fashion, about the nature of electromagnetism in general and its effects on the body--as well as conjecturing on naturally generated electromagnetic fields surrounding the body. This leads to discussions of: magnetic guidance as used by bees or homing pigeons; magnetism and ESP; admittances to mental hospitals in relation to solar flares and magnetic storms; and the potential for organ regeneration, cancer generation or remissions. The culmination is a long discourse on the dangers of electromagnetic forces in the world à la Paul Brodeur in The Zapping of America. These speculative and heated expositions vitiate much of the interesting, well-documented material presented earlier.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1984
Publisher: Morrow