by Jürgen Wellhausen
- In General -
In 1936 Wilhelm Reich started to study the pulsatory principals on life forms of low complexity and without spine. He chose amoeba because they have no inner or outer skeleton and because their only expression is pulsation. To observe these creatures, he had to use the microscope. Questioning the theories of air germs and spores his focus soon was drawn to the question of how the amoeba get into the hay infusions.
His research finally led to the discovery of bioneous disintegration and the genesis of new life out of bioneous material. What is important here is that the actual products of bioneous disintegration, the bions and the T-bacteria, are rather small. This lead to the need of a higher magnification. Wilhelm Reich used magnifications of up to 4500x employing 150x objectives, a 1.2x tubus and 25x eyepieces.
This article will give some information on how to attain the magnifications Reich used in his research and what should be considered if one sets up a laboratory. It will also discuss some contrast methods which did not exist in Reich's time. It will not to describe Reich's biological experiments, his theses and findings. All this is well described in "Die Bione", a book which was recently published in German language by the publishing company "2001". The original book was published in 1938 (SexPol Verlag,Oslo),later in the United States in English language, probably under the title "The Bions", and I suppose the Wilhelm Reich Museum will know how to obtain this publication. I assume that everybody who is interested in this article either knows this book or will read it anyway.
If one starts to investigate on light microscopes with such high magnification one soon will find that no one will suggest a magnification higher than 1000x. The argument is always that due to certain physical laws of light refraction objectives with an aperture of 1.4 and a magnification of 100x or an aperture of 1.6 and a magnification of 60x produce the highest resolution possible. The microscopes eyepiece only magnifies the objectives projection without giving a higher resolution. This can be compared with looking at a photograph with a magnifying glass. You will not see more detail, just bigger grain. The classical light microscopy assumes, that the picture you get using 10x or 15x eyepieces is the optimum. Optimum here means that the objectives projection is magnified enough so that the human eye, which also has a limited resolution, can perceive all details clearly and easy. Using an objective with an aperture of 1.4 and a magnification of 100x with a 10 x eyepiece you will get a magnification of 1000x, which is often referred to as the highest useful magnification.
This was the same in the 30ties when Reich did his research. Not knowing what aperture his 150x objective had I would assume that its resolution was definitely not better but probably worse than the resolution of modern objectives. One can actually say that regarding the obtainable magnification little has changed in the field of light microscopy and that then and now the scientific world agreed that there is no use for a magnification above 1000x in light microscopy. The advantages of modern microscopes are new contrast methods for living specimen, a better colour correction of the lenses, better tools for the documentation and a much neater design.
So what made Reich use high magnifying eyepieces and what is the benefit of working with high ocular magnification factors?
The benefit of high ocular magnification becomes obvious when one starts to investigate on bioneous disintegration and spontaneous biogenesis. Lets say one made a neat preparation of a hay infusion, a tiny bit of hay that then luckily shows signs disintegration on the edges. You use a magnification of 600x or even 1000x and you try to concentrate on the disintegrative process that only covers a tiny fraction of your field of view. And then you are going to judge whether there are one or two bions, whether something went into the liquid media or not whether a new bion disintegrated out of the plants membrane or whether a bion fell into pieces. You try to do that while the rest of your field of view is distracting you and really, all you want is a higher magnification. You enhance the ocular magnification factor following Reich's approach and yes, even though your picture seems to get more blurry, you will find the observations a lot easier.
As I said above, you will not see more details, no sharper edges. The whole image even feels less precise. But once you get used to this and once you spend time with these blurry projections you will find that the following questions are easier to answer:
Is there something? did it move? did it grow? did it change form? did it get brighter or darker? did objects part or gather?
All these questions are of great importance if we are going to observe how biological material disintegrates and what happens with the products of disintegration as Reich suggested.
I always like to compare it with the observation of a microscopic cheque board. You employ a magnification of 1000x and the magnification and the resolution just enable you to distinguish clearly between the black and white fields. Lets say there are 300 fields on each axis and your task is to observe whether the 4 fields in the very centre of the board are oscillating, changing from back to white or vice versa. You will certainly be more happy if you could get a frame that just shows the centre of the board, even if it is only bigger with no better resolution.
Sceptics might ask why the method of high ocular magnification is not used to a great extend in classical sciences and why only Reich could observe the disintegration of dead biological matter into bions and the genesis of classifiable monocellulare life forms out of these bions. It might be surprising, but to my knowledge, not many long time observations of living preparations have been done in the field of biological microscopy. Biological microscopes are mostly used for diagnosis and classification. Often preparations are killed and tinted to enhance the preparations contrast. That the observation of microscopic life is not daily business becomes obvious if you try to get a facility to keep a preparation alive for a week while it is constantly observed through a microscope. It simply is not available. Nobody we asked came up with an idea. Think about the efforts, scientists make to observe wildlife. They build camouflage watchtowers to observe the social life of lions, sit in there day and night, they drill wholes into nesting trees of birds to observe the upbringing of the chicks. There is lots of know-how. Somehow one would expect there to be some profound know-how about the observation of microscopic life, but we could not find much. The standard procedure still seems to be: Take a specimen slide, put a drop of some infusion on it, cover it with a cover-glass and observe it until it dried out. Than throw it away. It would be most delightful if readers who work in biological labs or at universities could ask there colleagues about that and write comments. This is a crucial topic. I will talk later about the problem of living preparations. At this point I'd just like to say that if any body knows or can find out about methods, please let us know.
- The Verification of Reich's Research -
I know about two successful attempts, except ours, to verify Wilhelm Reich's Bion Experiments. One attempt was made by the Zentrum für Orgonomie in Eberbach (Germany) and the other one by the Wilhelm Reich Institut in Berlin.
The Wilhelm Reich Institut set up a laboratory in 80ies with one of the best microscopes money could buy at that time. They also did a video-documentary of their work and it were these videotapes that raised our interest in the work. As far as I know they investigated on disintegration of organic and inorganic material and spontaneous biogenesis. Summaries of the video material was archived by the Orgonomic Video Archive.
Unfortunately is only black and white. We would always prefer coloured pictures. What became important for our observations is that they were able to observe the spontaneous biogenesis under sterile conditions. Their work showed us what processes we had to focus on while observing our unsterile specimen.
The inspiration we got from the Zentrum für Orgonomie was rather different. Their work was aiming towards a wider public. They had done research on a private level before they decided to set up laboratory seminaries. Due to their poor documentation facilities they asked us in our function of the Orgonomic Video Archive to help them with the documentation needed for the seminary. Eva Reich later called these recordings the best she had ever seen This got us in touch with the work and inspired us to set up our own laboratory
I assume that other people have worked in this field as well. It would be very good indeed if those who have done some work and who read this article would discuss their findings here in PORE or in DOS
- The Laboratory -
The main intention to write this article was to give some practical advise on how to set up a biological microscope to verify Reich's findings. Given that there is the 1000x magnification dogma, this itself is a bit of a problem. But if I only comment on this problem, the orgonomic world might end up with some more frustrated microscope owners. If you really want to do this research, you need a little more than just a microscope, you need a biological lab, facilities to document your work, lots of time and a crew of at least 3 people.
Before you got all that, you already can do observations, you can see most of the processes and phenomena Reich described, you can see disintegration and, if you are patient, spontaneous genesis. You can observe the orgonomic quality of food and you can indulge in the blueness of highly bioneous substances. You can do blood tests and see T- bacteria. You can have lots of fun and deepen your orgonomic view and understanding, but you cannot create any scientific evidence. This is the problem our institute faces at the moment, but we are looking forward to the time when the obstacles are solved.
A biological lab. That sounds unobtainable. We might remember the set-up in "Breakout" or features about virological research. But such conditions are not required. They might even become an obstacle in the actual work. What we need is a more or less sterile environment that is still friendly to life processes. Clean, sterile to a certain extend but not life negative.
You need one or two rooms that are dedicated to the research. Two rooms are better. One room will be dedicated for the experiments, the other room to congregate, to relax and to shield the research room from rest of the house. A good meter to measure how life positive the environment is your own body & mind. You should be able to air it propperly, it should be light but have blinds to keep the light out if necessary for the work. Both rooms should be easy to clean: linoleum or wooden floors , shelves and cabinets high enough to wipe underneath, as little furniture as possible, no furniture with thick upholstery , no cloth covered seats, no curtains etc. Could be nice if you can obtain a fan with a filter to air the room, but it should work without. Do not over prepare. Maybe you give it a clean with antibacterial cleaning agents every now and then, but you have to make sure that the environment does not become life antagonistic. Do not run into any danger to poison your tools and preparations with cleaning agents. Be sensible and do not develop a cleaning neuroses. Just keep it clean and more or less dust free.
What really has to be sterile if you want to produce some evidence are your slides, coverglasses, pipettes and all these tools. So what you need is an autoclave. You use it to sterilise your tools and the hay infusions before you make the preparations. I do not want to give a complete list of all the items needed. There are all kinds of things: one can start with petribowls, testtubes, pipettes, funnels and filters and end with the unavoidable cleanex box. If you want to do the glowing exp. you can ad a very hot gas flame, spatula several agents and so on. If you go along with the experiments you will find out. To summarise, the basic equipment is an autoclave, an incubator, the microscope and recording facilities for the documentation. If you have two rooms and if you do a video documentary it might be sensible to put the recorders and a big TV set into the other room and just have the camera and a small monitor in the actual research room to keep unnecessary radiation away from the specimen and the observer.
If you are very well funded you might be tempted to set up "the perfect laboratory". But do consider: Sophisticated tools do need skilled hands. So do not overequip. You cannot do the work on your own and you might end up working with laymen. The work is an ongoing process. So You might even loose the interest in the actual work for a while and might like to put somebody else in charge. So do not run into the trap of oversophistication if you want to establish an ongoing research. Reich's tools were fairly simple.
- The Microscope -
When I say "Reich's equipment was rather simple" and "do not run into the trap of oversophistication" I do not mean, that one should ignore the progress been made in the field of light microscopy. Reich mainly worked with the brightfield method. Nowadays we have a choice of several very useful contrast methods which work without manipulating the observed specimen:
Darkfield Phasecontrast Nomarsky Differential Interference Contrast (Nomarsky DIC) Polarised Light
Of these methods, the Phase Contrast and the Nomarsky DIC are the most useful. Using the brightfield flattens the observed objects. All You see are rather faint lines. If you use a contrast method, the observed objects gain more body.
Again, I do not want to describe these contrast methods in detail. If you like to study them, please get specific literature, if you just want to get an idea, I'd like to suggest a little brochure published by Zeiss called "Microscopy from the very beginning" that can be ordered at Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH, Germany, fax +49-3641-643144.
Microscopes that fulfil the demands of orgonomic research can be found in the range of so called "routine-microscopes" or "research-microscopes". They usually have a modular construction that allows to adapt several components for contrast methods, extra magnification and documentation. The so called research microscopes usually document the state of art in microscopy. They are highly desirable but also very expensive. The routine microscopes are less expensive, less sophisticated but can be equipped with most of the contrast methods and excellent optics and will certainly be your choice if you are not seriously rich or extremely well founded. Even a well equipped routine microscope could be far more sophisticated than the equipment Reich used for his research.
If you are planning to buy a microscope you should look at the ranges of Olympus, Nikon, Leitz, Zeiss. There are more manufactures, but you should definitely have a look at their ranges.
The system you get into must have the following features:
Word to word translation from German language. Maybe called differently in English. This is a lens revolver or a zoom lens that can be mounted between the objectives and the eyepiece tube. Depending on the make and type of the microscope you can get facilities with a magnification up to 2.5x. Some routine microscopes can not be equipped with an intermediate magnification. Some Systems have intermediate tubes like Pol or DIC analysers which provide some extra magnification. They can be put between intermediate magnification and eyepiece tube.
A binocular eyepiece tube. If you want to do a documentation, get a tube with a camera mount. If you can afford it get a tube for wide field eyepieces.
High magnification eyepieces. Reich used eyepieces with a magnification of 25x. Nowadays it is difficult to get high magnification eyepieces for biological microscopes. 15x seems to be the maximum. Stereoscopic microscopes sometimes use high magnification eyepieces. We managed to get 30x wide field eyepieces from an Olympus stereoscopic microscope adapted for the eyepiece tube of our Olympus BH-2. All it needed were little distance rings to put them into the right place. Talk to the manufacturer of your choice.
Camera adapter with projectives. Projectives are not very expensive. Get some including the one with the highest magnification ratio your manufacturer offers.
Before you decide for a microscope, read the manufactures brochures and see what magnification you can get with the system of your choice. compare with others. Check with the manufacturer whether your set-up will work. Have it all assembled in the sales office and try it out before you buy it.
We are using an Olympus BH-2. This is a modular routine microscope. We were able to buy the basic components second hand, the missing components we bought new.
Lets calculate the maximum magnification of our set-up to show how this is done:
for direct observation:
biggest objective 100x max. intermediate magnification 1.5x intermediate tube (Pol. analyser 1.25x max. ocular magnification 30x
100 x 1.5 x 1.25 x 30 = 5,625x
for video documentation:
To calculate the overall magnification you can see on the monitor you have to calculate the product of the optical magnification and the electronic magnification.
optical magnification: biggest objective 100x max. intermediate magnification 1.5x intermediate tube (Pol. analyser) 1.25x biggest projective 6,7x
100 x 1.5 x 1.25 x 6.7 = 1,256.25x
electronic magnification: diagonal of camera chip 1/3" = 5.3 mm diagonal of monitor screen 520 mm
520 mm / 5.3 mm = 98.11 x
overall magnification: optical magnification 1,256.25x electronic magnification 98.11x
1,256.25 x 98.11 = 123,250.68 x
High resolution cameras combined with high resolution monitors provide a better picture quality than standard TV-monitors. High resolution set-ups are very expansive. The camera you use on your microscope should be small and very light sensitive. Check various manufacturers for price and performance. Have a look at observation cameras. If you are well founded discuss electronic contrast enhancement and residual light methods with camera and microscope manufacturers.
- About Halos, Blueness, Pulsation and other Points at Issue -
There are some phenomena that I would like to mention. If you use the phase contrast, you will see halos and a lot of blue colour in living specimens. Orgonomers like to see these as the expression of the Orgone Energy in colour and radiation.
Be careful, its a trap. The halos in phasecontrast do not depend on the level of orgonotic charge of the specimen but on their thickness and are a side effect of the contrast method that is rather easy to explain once one understands how the phase contrast works. So if you like to observe halos, you should start your observations using the brightfield. If you observe blood for instance, you should be able to see halos in the brightfield. Reich did, we did, and others did to. So if there are halos in the brightfield, this must somehow influence the halos you observe in the phasecontrast. But in the phasecontrast it is difficult to distinguish between halos which are influenced by Orgone Radiation and those which are not. At least not if you have not seen many specimen.
After you gained some experience with the phasecontrast, you might get a feel for it. Specially if you use it to investigate on the disintegration of organic substances and spontaneous biogenesis you will be able to meet the phenomena of luminosity. You will see how luminous highly "pregnant" clusters of bions and freshly "born" protozoas are compared to old and disintegrating protozoas. This luminosity always shows a very specific "hint of blueness that you will also find elsewhere in the halos of bions clusters and living specimen in both, the brightfield and the darkfield.
Some people say the blueness is caused by chromatic aberration, but we think this is a grave misinterpretation. This is term describes the difficulties to focus all colours of the spectrum onto focal level. The effect becomes stronger the higher the magnification is. The best lenses are "colour corrected" for up to four wavelengths, but no lens can give 100% colour correction. We know about this problem, but we think that it is wrong to neglect the appearance of colour in light microscopy. What convinced us that bioneous specimen appear somewhat from blue to cold-white or purple in colour is the reliable, more or less rich but dominant presence of these colours in bioneous preparations. It does not matter what lens you use, highly corrected, badly corrected, 10x or 100x, bioneous preparations appear somewhat blue. The best examples of light blue to purple halos we could ever observe in the brightfield were the halos of well charged red blood cells. The bluest specimen we ever came across was the yolk of a freshly laid egg, which appeared as deep blue in low and high magnifications. All bioneous preparations seem loose their blueness when they disintegrate further.
Another phenomena that is often argued about is the pulsation of bions. Some people who have worked with bioneous preparation deny that there is pulsation of bions. They look at one isolated bion and argue that the impression of the bion becoming slightly smaller and bigger again in a certain frequency is not caused by pulsation but by the bion moving up and down in the focal level. They explain this as Brown's Motion.
Good point indeed, and it is no problem to generate Brown's motion in microscopic specimen, specially if one waits for the specimen to warm up under the influence of the microscope's light source. But again, we cannot say that all motion in bioneous specimen can only be Brown's Motion. First of all, there is a lot of motion in bioneous preparations. This motion could be described as a soft, regular swing. This motion changes to a more frequent motion of an almost frantic quality when the specimen disintegrate. Again one could say that it is the Brown's motion as well, just that the forces work on smaller particles causing a more frequent motion. The subjective impression is that one observes two different active expressions and not some passive motion. I do like subjective impressions a lot, they can be a great source of inspiration, but when you talk to critics they are of no use.
The first glimpse of an evidence for the pulsation occurred when we observed blood. We managed to keep blood specimen for up to 70 hours without them drying out. We did not observe these specimen continuously, but in intervals. In the breaks the light source was switched of. When we looked at it again, the motion was still there, even though there was enough time for the specimen and the stage to cool out. The room temperature fell during the night but the motion did not decrease. Only when the still not dried out specimen "died" after ongoing disintegration the motion stopped.
- The living Specimen -
I will conclude the article with this paragraph. As I mentioned above, it is difficult to prepare sterile specimen for long-time observations with regular biological microscopes. Sterile living specimen are of importance if you want to produce evidence for the spontaneous biogenesis out of disintegrating organic matter. The problem is to construct a small chamber on top of a slide which allows to refill the evaporating water without washing away the observed object. We once discussed the problem with Eva Reich and suggested a little reservoir chamber. She said that according to her memory Reich used a similar method, but she could not remember details.
We once designed some slides with refillable chambers, flow-channels to reduce the speed of the waterflow and little evaporation pools, but we have not built them yet.
A way to avoid these complications could be the use of an inverse microscope. They are used for biologic and genetic research and are constructed so that the objectives sit underneath the specimen. The gap between condenser and specimen is fairly big so that one can put petri bowls directly onto the stage. The amount of water that fits into the bowl should allow long-term observations without refilling. The problem here is to build a little "cage" to keep the observed object in position and in focus.
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.Wilhelm Reich Akademie