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Sent: Monday, June 27, 2011 11:40 PM
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              JUNE 2011


Dear Subscriber,


This month we are thrilled to bring you a first! Yep, the first human cell laser and the cell continued to live a normal life after pumping huge amounts of light through itself. It may make the public more aware of how compatible light is for living cells, even if very narrow band laser light.


Continuing our theme on light, Story #2 is another breakthrough that generates something from nothing. At least, that is what most people might think the quantum vacuum is composed of. With the kinetic energy and gigahertz frequency of a moving mirror, light can pour out of the virtual sea of negative energy photons, which is really a physical space full of matter. The article is an excellent primer on the zero point energy of the vacuum, which is a future energy source if we choose to use it. Story #1 and #2 convince me that our books on bioelectromagnetics and zero point energy are written for future generations.
The last three articles all deal with liquids. Story #3 offers a microbial fuel cell which has numerous applications and the hope for miniaturization. The next story describes a liquid lithium-ion battery for electric cars along with the link to the Advanced Energy Materials for those who want to follow up on it.


The last article is a glimpse into the strange world of perpetual motion that has manifested in superfluid and superconductive circuits for decades. It is technically perpetual motion of the second kind which cannot be used to produce work. However, it is enlightening to know that it exists and can persist for years. 



Thomas Valone, PhD, PE







1) First Human Living Laser

 Ferris Jabr, New Scientist, 12 June 2011


Ed. Note: The discovery of the first human cellular laser proves to the bioelectromagnetics practitioner that light is not only "compatible" with endogenous cellular metabolism but the orders of magnitude increase in the energy density of visible light from the lasing cavity inside the cell is also tolerable and therapeutic to the cell. See the reference book, Bioelectromagnetic Healing for a scientific explanation of "light therapy" and details on how electromagnetic fields of all frequencies interact with human tissue



The human kidney cell that was used to make the laser survived the experience. In future such "living lasers" might be created inside live animals, which could potentially allow internal tissues to be imaged in unprecedented detail.

It's not the first unconventional laser. Other attempts include lasers made of Jell-O and powered by nuclear reactors (see Related Information box below). But how do you go about giving a living cell this bizarre ability?

Typically, a laser consists of two mirrors on either side of a gain medium - a material whose structural properties allow it to amplify light. A source of energy such as a flash tube or electrical discharge excites the atoms in the gain medium, releasing photons. Normally, these would shoot out in random directions, as in the broad beam of a flashlight, but a laser uses mirrors on either end of the gain medium to create a directed beam.

As photons bounce back and forth between the mirrors, repeatedly passing through the gain medium, they stimulate other atoms to release photons of exactly the same wavelength, phase and direction. Eventually, a concentrated single-frequency beam of light erupts through one of the mirrors as laser light.

Alive and well

Hundreds of different gain media have been used, including various dyes and gases. But no one has used living tissue. Mostly out of curiosity, Malte Gather and Seok-Hyun Yun of Harvard University decided to investigate with a single mammalian cell.


They injected a human kidney cell with a loop of DNA that codes for an enhanced form of green fluorescent protein. Originally isolated from jellyfish, GFP glows green when exposed to blue light and has been invaluable as a biological beacon, tracking the path of molecules inside cells and lighting up when certain genes are expressed.

After placing the cell between two mirrors, the researchers bombarded it with pulses of blue light until it began to glow. As the green light bounced between the mirrors, certain wavelengths were preferentially amplified until they burst through the semi-transparent mirrors as laser light. Even after a few minutes of lasing, the cell was still alive and well.

Christopher Fang-Yen of the University of Pennsylvania, who has worked on single-atom lasers but was not involved in the recent study, says he finds the new research fascinating. "GFP is similar to dyes used to make commercial dye lasers, so it's not surprising that if you put it in a little bag like a cell and pump it optically you should be able to get a laser," he says. "But the fact that they show it really works is very cool."

Internal imaging?

Yun's main aim was simply to test whether a biological laser was even possible, but he has also been mulling over a few possible applications. "We would like to have a laser inside the body of the animal, to generate laser light directly within the animal's tissue," he says.

In a technique called laser optical tomography, laser beams are fired from outside the body at living tissues. The way the light is transmitted and scattered can reveal the tissues' size, volume and depth, and produce an image. Being able to image from within the body might give much more detailed images. Another technique, called fluorescence microscopy, relies on the glow from living cells doped with GFP to produce images. Yun's biological laser could improve its resolution with brighter laser light.

To turn cells inside a living animal into lasers, they would have to be engineered to express GFP so that they were able to glow. The mirrors in Yun's laser would have to be replaced with nanoscale-sized bits of metal that act as antennas to collect the light.

"Previously the laser was considered an engineering material, and now we are showing the concept of the laser can be integrated into biological systems," says Yun.

The living laser is a first, but other strange lasers have been made in the half-century since Theodore Maiman made the first such device from a fingertip-sized ruby rod. On 16 May 1960, Maiman blasted the ruby with a brilliant burst of light from a photographic flash lamp, generating a bright red beam.

About a decade later, two future Nobel laureates created the first edible laser - well, almost. Theodor Hänsch and Arthur Schawlow tried 12 flavours of Jell-O dessert before settling on an "almost non-toxic" fluorescent dye. When added to unflavoured gelatin, this yielded a bright laser beam when illuminated with UV light. Schawlow, who had snacked on the failures, gave the successful one a miss.

Around the same time, NASA wanted much more powerful lasers for beaming power into space, and proposed powering these by exciting molecules with fragments from nuclear fission inside a small reactor. Pulses of up to 1 kilowatt were achieved before NASA abandoned the programme. The so-called Star Wars programme of the Reagan era later funded a project to develop reactor-powered laser weapons, but they never got off the ground.

Much more recently, in 2009, the world's smallest laser was demonstrated at the University of California, Berkeley. It generated green laser light in strands of cadmium sulphide only 50 nanometres across, 1/10th of the wavelength of the light it emitted.

And don't forget the anti-laser, from Hui Cao's lab at Yale University. Instead of emitting light, the anti-laser soaks it up. Strange as it sounds, it may have a practical use: converting optical signals into electrical form for future communication links. Jeff Hecht



 Nature Photonics, DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.99 


2) A Moving Mirror Can Generate Light from the Vacuum

By Geoff Brumfiel,

Published online 3 June 2011| Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2011.346  and at:

Ed Note: Learn even more neat quantum vacuum engineering tricks of the trade in the classic text: Practical Conversion of the Quantum Vacuum by Thomas Valone or alternatively,  Zero Point Energy: The Fuel of the Future by Thomas Valone. Also notable is the RejuvaMatrix invention by Dr. Norm Shealy which also affects DNA telomeres with an even higher electron oscillation frequency of several billion times per second, predictably generating light in the human body as well to cause the effect.  - TV


A team of physicists is claiming to have coaxed sparks from the vacuum of empty space1. If verified, the finding would be one of the most unusual experimental proofs of quantum mechanics in recent years and "a significant milestone", says John Pendry, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London who was not involved in the study.

The researchers, based at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, will present their findings early next week at a workshop in Padua, Italy. They have already posted a paper on the popular pre-print server, but have declined to talk to reporters because the work has not yet been peer-reviewed. High-profile journals, including Nature, discourage researchers from talking to the press until their findings are ready for publication.

Nevertheless, scientists not directly connected with the group say that the result is impressive. "It is a major development," says Federico Capasso, an experimental physicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who has worked on similar quantum effects.

At the heart of the experiment is one of the weirdest, and most important, tenets of quantum mechanics: the principle that empty space is anything but. Quantum theory predicts that a vacuum is actually a writhing foam of particles flitting in and out of existence.

The existence of these particles is so fleeting that they are often described as virtual, yet they can have tangible effects. For example, if two mirrors are placed extremely close together, the kinds of virtual light particles, or photons, that can exist between them can be limited. The limit means that more virtual photons exist outside the mirrors than between them, creating a force that pushes the plates together. This 'Casimir force' is strong enough at short distances for scientists to physically measure it.



From virtual to real

For decades, theorists have predicted that a similar effect can be produced in a single mirror that is moving very quickly. According to theory, a mirror can absorb energy from virtual photons onto its surface and then re-emit that energy as real photons. The effect only works when the mirror is moving through a vacuum at nearly the speed of light - which is almost impossible for everyday mechanical devices.

Per Delsing, a physicist at the Chalmers University of Technology, and his colleagues circumvented this problem using a piece of quantum electronics known as a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID), which is extraordinarily sensitive to magnetic fields.

The team fashioned a superconducting circuit in which the SQUID effectively acted as a mirror. Passing a magnetic field through the SQUID moved the mirror slightly, and switching the direction of magnetic field several billion times per second caused it to 'wiggle' at around 5% the speed of light, a speed great enough to see the effect.

The result was a shower of microwave photons shaken loose from the vacuum, the team claims. The group's analysis shows that the frequency of the photons was roughly half the frequency at which they wiggled the mirror - as was predicted by quantum theory.

Capasso calls the experiment "very clever". He doubts that the effect has any practical use because it doesn't generate large numbers of photons, but he considers it a nice demonstration of quantum mechanics. He still hopes to see a moving piece of metal generate detectable light from the vacuum, and believes that micromechanical systems may eventually be able to reach such speeds.
Pendry says that the result, if it stands up, is bound to generate excitement. "Work in this area stirs considerable passion in the breasts of physicists."



1. Wilson, C. M. et al. Preprint at


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3) Tiniest Fuel Cell generates Power from Bacteria

June 24, 2011. by Ray Kurzweil.


A tiny biological fuel cell, the smallest of its kind (0.3 microliters), has been built by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), powered by bacteria. The new device, the size of a single strand of human hair, generates energy from the metabolism of bacteria on thin gold plates in micro-manufactured channels. 

Four Microbial Fuel Cells. Credit Kelvin Gregory Carnegie Mellon University


The bacteria create a biofilm that uses natural organic compounds as fuel to generate power.


For now, the microbial fuel cells produce only very tiny amounts of electricity, about 25 mA (milliamperes). For larger applications, many cells would need to be stacked together to increase the power output.


Future versions of this bacteria-powered fuel cell could replace batteries in microelectronic devices because they can store more energy in the same space.


"Our biology-powered fuel cell could be less costly to make and more easily deployed in remote areas than conventional  batteries that require invasive maintenance," said LeDuc, a CMU associate professor of mechanical engineering

Bacteria growth on the anode.  Credit: Kelvin Gregory


The microbial fuel cell could be used to power small scale electronic devices and sensors, underwater remote sensors, or medical implants, the researchers said.

Ref.: Z. Li, et al., Microbial electricity generation via microfluidic flow control, Biotechnol Bioeng., 2011; [DOI: 10.1002/bit.23156]




4) Breakthrough in Liquid Batteries Could Revolutionize Electric Cars.

By Eric W. Dolan   The Schwartz Report --The Raw Story June 10, 2011.


A new battery design developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could transform the way electric vehicles and the power grid store and discharge energy.


The MIT News Office reported that the new architecture suspends the active electrical components of a battery, such as positive and negative electrodes, as particles in a liquid. This black electric sludge, which resembles petroleum, has been dubbed "Cambridge crude" by its inventors.


Black electric sludge similar to petroleum 


The new design, called a "semi-solid flow cell," could allow electric vehicles to refuel by pumping the used electric sludge out and replacing it with fully charged electric sludge. Researchers say the new battery design should also make it possible to reduce the size and the cost of a complete battery system, making electric cars more competitive with contemporary gas-powered cars.


The new battery architecture is described in a paper published May 20 in the journal Advanced Energy Materials. It combined the basic structure of flow batteries with the high energy potential of lithium-ion batteries.


"The demonstration of a semi-solid lithium-ion battery is a major breakthrough that shows that slurry-type active materials can be used for storing electrical energy," Yury Gogotsi, Distinguished University Professor at Drexel University and director of Drexel's Nanotechnology Institute, said. This breakthrough "has tremendous importance for the future of energy production and storage."


Gogotsi added that it "may take years" before commercial version of the battery can become available, but there are not any "fundamental problems that cannot be addressed" by additional research. 

5) Atomic superconductor one-ups SQUID

R. Colin Johnson   4/1/2011 7:10 PM EDT


Ed. Note: Perpetual motion is described in this article as a persistent current, which historically has been sustained for years in ring superconductors, so the record here is for atomic versions of it.


Circulating ultra-cold atoms around a ring exhibits superfluidity-the atomic version of superconductivity-potentially enabling sensors capable of tracking rotational motion in gyroscopes of unparalleled accuracy, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Technology. PORTLAND, Ore.-


Circulating ultra-cold atoms around a ring exhibits superfluidity-the atomic version of superconductivity-potentially enabling sensors capable of tracking rotational motion in gyroscopes of unparalleled accuracy, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Technology (NIST).


When gases are cooled to near absolute zero, they condense into a superfluid that can be launched around a ring to exhibit perpetual motion, similar to the manner in which superconducting quantum interference devices (squids) detectors circulate electrons around a superconducting ring. Such atomic Squids could enable ultra-precise gyroscopes the size of micro-electro-mechanical systems.


NIST researchers cooperated with the University of Maryland on the world's first atom-circuit formed by a loop of atoms in a superfluidic state which can be switched on and off with a laser controlled barrier. The research team was able to demonstrate perpetual motion-called persistent current-for a record-setting 40 seconds.

NIST said it was working toward a future atomtronics era where all circuit components would be based on atomic-scale mechanisms that can harness quantum effects to create superconductors, superinsulators and now superfluidic devices.


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