By Tom M. Morton
Written for Extraordinary Science magazine July 1995
The only way that Man can communicate over a distance uses electromagnetic radiation of some kind. A couple of exceptions are the direct current, wire carried, telegraph, and two tin cans and some string. Even smoke signals and semaphore use electromagnetic radiation in the form of light. Radio, lasers, fiber-optics, telephony, satellite communication, and the extinct transatlantic cable all employ a form of electromagnetic radiation. If someone were to demonstrate communication without the use of any of the above, it would be a big breakthrough indeed. It would be as significant as the letter "S" that Marconi sent from England to Newfoundland in 1900.
There is research going on now in the use of organics in computing. Obviously the brain is way ahead of man made computers, and advances in interface technology are being made everyday. There have been many outstanding examples of communication between human computers with what we call telepathy. Granted they are for the most part anecdotal and have difficulty surviving scientific scrutiny, but there is defiantly something there.
Back in the late 1960s, a man by the name of Cleve Backster did a number of experiments with plants and lie detector equipment. Mr. Backster, then the director of the Backster Research Foundation in New York City and a noted polygraph expert, hooked one of his GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) devices to a potted plant instead of a human. Then he watered it. "The specimen's psychogalvanic reflex (PGR) reaction pattern was strange, for it appeared similar to that of a human being undergoing emotional stimulation. Attempting to further test the plant's reaction, Backster decided to take a match and burn the leaf carrying the polygraph electrodes. At the moment this thought entered his mind a dramatic change was reflected in the PGR tracing, the graphic recorder suddenly drew a wave form of great amplitude. This totally unexpected reaction suggested to Backster that somehow the presence of this destructive mental image set off a chain of events, not obvious to the human senses, that triggered the plant into what seemed to be an emotional-like response." (1)
Backster continued to experiment. In an attempt to take himself out of the equation, he devised a clock controlled device that would at random times dump a vile of living brine shrimp in to hot water. This would be done when he was not present. He noticed that at the precise time that the shrimp met their doom, the plant on the other side of the room produced a violent tracing. Some form of communication was defiantly taking place, and it was not any conventional type. Backster has found, what he calls "primary perception", in a wide variety of organic material. "Besides plants, he has tested fresh fruits and vegetables, mold cultures, yeasts, amoeba, blood samples, eggs, even scrapings from the roof of his mouth."(2) He also found that when test subjects were placed in Faraday shields, thus eliminating all forms of electro-magnetic radiation, they performed just as well.
To see if distance had an effect on the phenomenon, Backster sent an assistant with a plant some 30 or 40 miles into New Jersey. Back in the lab was a pot-mate that was hooked up to a GSR. The assistant, at a random and recorded time, burned the leaf. Upon returning he found out that the plant in the lab had reacted at the precise time. I remember reading about this some years ago, however, I haven't been able to find the article. With all of his experiments, Backster has the feeling that no distance, however great, would prevent the communication. In a magazine interview, he mentioned that he would like to set up an experiment that would place a plant on a Mars space probe. At a precise time he would have the person that cared for the plant on Earth traumatized. The plants reaction would be telemetered back to the space center. "Ordinarily it takes a telemetered signal 6 to 6.5 minutes to get to Mars and 6 to 6.5 minutes back. The question would be how quickly we would receive the plant's reaction to the person's stimulus. If it comes back in 6 minutes, how did it get out there? Even if it takes 12 minutes, overall, it would be great to know that that enormous distance is no barrier to primary perception. But I suspect that this signal would return in half the time. If it did, you'd have proof that there is a non-time-consuming form of communication, a phenomenon entirely beside or outside the electromagnetic spectrum."(3)
There is no doubt that the "Backster Effect" works. When Backster's work was first published, he received more than 7000 requests from scientists for reports on his original research. His experiments have been duplicated in laboratories at universities all over the world. This really works. To my knowledge no real research has been done to use this for communication. The first step would be to set up a biological, a bridge, an amplifier, and a gate that would switch on an oscillator. This would sound a note when the biological was stimulated. This would be the receiver. The transmitter could be a biological with some sort of stimulation that could be electrically switched by a code key. When the code key is depressed, the transmitter biological is stimulated, then the receiver biological reacts and the gate is closed causing the oscillator to sound a tone. This "bio-telegraphy" set up, when successfully used to send the letter "S" under controlled conditions and over a respectable distance, will be the first human communication not to use electromagnetic radiation. It should earn a Nobel Prize.
Whether you are using a plant or bacteria in a vile the reaction is observed as a minute change in resistance. High grade shielded amplifiers and pickups must be used. This equipment can't be build-it -yourself-Radio Shack stuff . I have already tried it, so don't waist your time. This research should be done by a serious scientist with the best equipment and using strict Scientific Method procedures. I have done a lot of thinking about this over the years, and would like to help anyone who decides to take up the project if I can.
(1) L. George Lawrence, "Electronics and the Living Plant," Electronics World October, 1969: 27.
(2) Maya Pines, "Do You Chat With Your Plants?" McCalls Magazine February, 1971: 45
(3)Janice and Charles Robbins, "Startling new research from the man who "talks" to plants," National Wildlife October, 1971: 24.