Explorations of Biological Alteration of Radioactive Decay

By Ascomycete Fungi:

Further Experiments

 

N.A. Reiter

Dr. S.P. Faile

28 December, 2002

 

Background and Objective:

Since September of 2002, we have continued to observe evidence suggesting a biological influence on the decay rate of Th and U in cultures of ascomycota fungal organisms. Our original experiments examined cultures prepared using a novel fungus that appeared to have been inadvertently transplanted from a pre-historic archaeological site in southern Ohio (the Fort Hill fungus). More recently, we have observed similar apparent modifications of decay rate in blended cultures containing baker's yeast! Thus it appears that we have at least eliminated a certain level of novelty in the matter, and that the effects we have observed should be universally repeatable without the need for obscure or exotic fungal strains.

This report will summarize each major experiment conducted since September 2002.

Standard Equipment and Procedures:

For these experiments, we once again use our Baird Atomic 916 lab Geiger counter. With voltage set for 900V, we confirm that the background count rate in the lab still appears to typically run between 10 and 30 CPM.

Our experiments were again performed at our lab location in the Toledo, Ohio area. The ambient consisted of a typical air conditioned office / lab atmosphere, with typical temperature running about 24oC +/- 2oC.

For the fungal experiments, six inch square plastic tubs were washed thoroughly with methanol, then dried. Initial culture medium was typically room temperature unflavored soymilk added to each, 150 ml worth. We start all tubs out with their plastic lids placed loosely over them (non-sealed, but a more solid diffusion barrier than the paper towel covers used in the first experiment.)

Geiger counter readings were taken by holding the GM tube vertically at a one - inch height over the soymilk solutions, at tub center and at tub corners. Max and min count rates were recorded. We also record our visual records of the physical properties for both cultured and control tubs. Typically, we make readings and observations at least once per day.

 

Re-Constitution Experiment:

At the end of the experimental set discussed in our second report, our control and cultured tubs had nearly dried out. We wondered what the effects might be of adding fresh soymilk to the now dried or nearly dried fungal mats. CPM had risen substantially over the last few days before desiccation, and we considered that this rise was due to a concentration of the original Th or U compounds in solution.

On 2 September, 100 ml of fresh soy milk was poured over the top of each of the four dried fungal masses:

 

Reconstitution Experiment - follow up on set 2

(CPM)

(Th-control) (Th-culture) (U control) (U culture)

26-Aug

320

340

1000

600

380

400

1300

900

380

440

1400

900

360

420

1400

800

all dry!

2-Sep

460

700

1700

800

100

120

60

70

add 100ml of fresh soy milk to each

3-Sep

120

160

140

120

mat formed for all

4-Sep

140

160

140

220

5-Sep

160

180

300

280

8-Sep

240

220

700

500

10-Sep

320

420

900

800

11-Sep

320

440

900

800

Discussion:

Upon the addition of the fresh soymilk, the CPM for all tubs dropped radically. We attributed this at first to stratification and absorption of decay products. However, in tub #2, we stirred up a section of the old mat to bring it to the surface, and found that there was no significant change in the count rate. Had the fresh soy milk quenched some unknown factor? Within 24 hours, we find that the CPM begins to rise, as a new layer of fungal mat forms. This rise was greatest for the tubs containing the uranyl acetate. However, we find that the count rate continues to rise even with the new secondary mats firmly in place. On 11 September, we poured a final fresh layer of soy milk, about 100 ml worth, over the top of each of the still vigorous (non-dried) mats. We see no change in count rate, thus indicating that the addition of the soy milk was not providing significant radiation shielding, but rather implying that the drop in CPM upon applying fresh soy milk to the dried tub contents previously was due to another mechanism!

EDS scans were taken of the tub media at one week following the re-constitution. Once again, we find evidence of low level amounts of surprising elements that do not appear to exist in the original components of the experiment. W, Pb, Gd, Ra, Bi, Fr, Lu, Sr, Hf may be found. See the scan for tub #3, shown below (featuring a significant Sr peak to the left of P).

 

 

Lithium Doping:

It was proposed by SPF, after considering historical LENR lore, that the addition of lithium to the fungal matrix might result in an enhancement of the effect.

We set up the following experiment conditions, first using U infused cultured tubs, then later repeating the setup with Th. For each attempt, we cultured both tubs with dried fungal stock, but added a small amount of LiCl solution to one tub.

 

Lithiated cultures

125 ml of soy milk

25ml minced fungus in soy milk

15 ml sat. uranyl acetate soln. In H2O

"lithiated" tub had 15ml of 1.0M LiCl in H2O

15 ml of H2O for control

control

lithiated

18-Sep

80

100

19-Sep

100

80

20-Sep

80

100

23-Sep

100

100

full mats formed

24-Sep

80

100

25-Sep

80

100

Thorium version of same experiment

24-Sep

120

200

25-Sep

140

240

26-Sep

160

300

27-Sep

160

260

28-Sep

160

240

30-Sep

160

240

1-Oct

160

220

Discussion:

For the uranyl acetate tubs, results were nearly negative, even for the non-lithium control. Repeating with Th appeared to produce some modest results for the lithiated tub. However, we noted that the starting count rate was somewhat higher for that tub, possibly by virtue of a slightly greater amount of Th solution being inadvertently added. The question became quite apparent - was the negative to very modest results due to some unforeseen or unknown factor? Or was there a minimum starting level for radioactivity, below which the apparent enhancement by the fungi would not trigger, no matter how vigorous the fungal growth?

For experiments up to and including this one, we made use of the original quantity of dried fungal matrix / wheat puff material provided by SPF during the summer. Over the course of the months, this material became quite desiccated and spore coated in its sealed storage bag. Could the original fungus have been consumed or replaced by a parasitic form?

In October, SPF forwarded a new batch of dried fungal stock, grown in a pan to which unsweetened wheat cereal had been added for enhanced performance / vigor of fungal mat formation. This particular batch was referred to as "nutrient enhanced", although by all visual indications, it was identical to the original organism.

 

Replication Using Nutrient Enhanced Fungal Stock:

Three tubs were used for this experiment, using precisely the same protocol as used for the experiment in our second report, with the exception of using a single non-cultured "control" tub with uranyl acetate, along with cultured U and Th tubs. Fungal material used was the fresh dried matrix from SPF. We also do note that the starting CPM for all tubs was somewhat higher than the rates for the lithium experiments. This has continued to be a factor surprisingly difficult to control with precision, even with identical solutions of the radioactive tracers.

Nutrient Enhanced Fungal stock experiment

Hrs.

Control Uranyl

Cultured Uranyl

Cultured Thorium

17-Oct

0

160

160

200

T + 6 hrs

6

160

180

260

18-Oct

24

160

180

300

21-Oct

96

160

200

360

22-Oct

120

180

220

wet rot!

420

23-Oct

144

220

180

420

24-Oct

168

180

160

360

25-Oct

192

240

mold islands

160

520

half dish mat

26-Oct

216

27-Oct

240

28-Oct

264

180

180

520

29-Oct

288

220

240

520

30-Oct

312

200

200

500

31-Oct

336

320

260

540

4-Nov

432

380

280

720

11-Nov

420

340

1200

dried

Discussion:

The performance of these tubs was quite similar to the earliest of results in this project, reported in our first two reports. Thus, we were at least able to re-establish a baseline for the "effect", at least. We find that at about 5 days, however, the cultured uranyl tub began to assume a rotten character, turning foul smelling and jelly-like. After about 10 days, the control (non-cultured) tub began to develop moldy islands, and eventually a mat formation was seen, probably started from spore transport in the air over the approximately 40 cm distance between tubs.

The following graph displays the trends observed:

 

 

Please note that the gap in data is due to lack of recording over two days of time. We find that the Th infused culture "takes off" and climbs further than the U based culture. Also note that the first rise in CPM for the control tub corresponds with the first appearance of mold islands.

 

First Yeast Experiment:

In late October, the possibility was discussed that other easily accessible fungal organisms would be worthwhile examining, to see if similar alterations of radioactive decay / count rate would result. We decided that an excellent candidate was common baker's yeast, also considered an ascomycete fungus. The chemistry of yeast and its growth and life cycle is well known.

For a first experiment, we started with a very basic arrangement of sugar water and uranyl acetate, to which a pack of baker's yeast was added. The mixture was contained in a 150 ml beaker, and the Geiger Mueller tube was held at a constant 1 inch distance over the liquid surface. During the period of fermentation, the beaker was lightly covered with a paper towel, and given good ventilation before readings were taken. See the transcribed notes and results here:

 

1st yeast experiment

25ml sugar

125ml H2O

25ml uranyl acetate (saturated) in H2O

1 pack of dried yeast

Hrs.

CPM

0

160

4

220

20

200

72

180

96

160

Second Yeast Experiment:

It was suggested by SPF that a more extended liquid matrix for yeast might be desirable, providing more elemental or mineral constituents for possible LENT effects, as well as sustaining the life cycle of the yeast. Once again, we fall back on soymilk as a candidate.

A second test was designed, using a soy milk base. Measurement protocol was the same as for the first yeast experiment, however thorium nitrate was used instead of uranyl acetate:

2nd yeast experiment

125ml of RT soy milk

2tsp sugar

40 ml Th Nitrate soln. (1/2 sat)

1 pack yeast

Hrs.

CPM

0

220

Thick, like porridge

2

260

puffing up - fermenting

3

300

6

280

24

320

48

280

72

320

very liquidy

9-Dec

96

240

10-Dec

120

260

add .5g of crumbled fungal stock

11-Dec

144

340

12-Dec

168

300

13-Dec

192

260

17-Dec

286

280

20-Dec

358

360

23-Dec

430

380

 

At 5 days time, we decided to introduce a second element, and add some dried fungal matrix. After 12 days time, it was still not clear whether the fungus was successfully cultured, or whether it had been restrained or killed by the fermentation products of the yeast. However, we do see that within about 24 hours, a significant jump in CPM was noted.

 

 

Discussion:

The actions of the yeast and fungus together are still being evaluated. However, from these two simple tests, we do see some good evidence that the growth and action of baker's yeast triggers an alteration of radioactive decay rate, as read as a count per minute value. With the second experiment, we do find the up and down character of the CPM rate over days of time to be curious. Could this be a function of further bio-chemical reactions from the yeast?

General Discussion - Yeast Experiments:

Much remains to be examined with respect to yeast experimentation. Our knowledge of the life cycle and biochemistry of yeast is still very low on the learning curve, although the knowledge is certainly well established elsewhere. It would appear outwardly, however, that for whatever mechanism may ultimately lie behind the alteration of the radioactive decay, it is not limited to an obscure ascomycete mushroom from southwest Ohio. Baker's yeast is universally available, and should facilitate the understanding of this effect for any experimenters who have access to a Geiger counter and a quantity of U or Th salts.

 

EDS Analysis - Yeast Experiments:

EDS analysis was used to look for evidence of surprising elemental X-ray signatures. Because EDS is not well suited for low level quantitative analysis, we disregarded alterations in some peak heights from before to after yeast action. Instead, we looked carefully for the presence of discrete X-ray peaks for elements not found in the starting mixture. The following scan - taken of a sample of dried soy milk matrix from several days after the addition of the fungal matrix to the yeast blend - shows at least one likely "new addition" - Pb - and a possible trace of Ni:

 

 

 

Conclusions:

Our investigation continues into the alteration of radioactive decay rates in the presence of microorganisms and fungi. Emphasis will remain on four activities:

  1. EDS analysis for confirming of unusual LENT products.
  2. Attempts to amplify and enhance the alteration effect.
  3. Continuing effort to eliminate possibility of artifacts such as stratification and radon up-take.
  4. Exploration of other organisms, fungal and non-fungal.

In the broadest sense, we believe the most important result of this latest series of tests has been the confirmation that yeast is capable of producing a measurable level of alteration. This should make independent replication of our observations a more straightforward venture.

We continue also to seek correspondence with other interested scientists and amateurs in this general field. Sincere thanks go out to all parties who have provided input on our tests, especially members of the Vortex on-line discussion group.

 

Addendum: Transmutation Products and Considerations

06 January 2003

N. Reiter

It is important to bring to the reader's attention two points pertaining to our third research summary. These relate to the reconstitution of the four fungal growth tubs from our second round experiment, and the possibility of transmutation.

As discussed in the above report, EDS scans were taken approximately one week after the addition of fresh soy milk to the old fungal growth, and a variety of previously unseen although low level elemental peaks were found. We should point out however, that in not all of the four spectra was the spread of elemental signals the same as scan taken at the end of the original experiment period.

http://www.geocities.com/spfaile/RadioFungi_partII.html (Link was deleted)

One of the most important examples of this was in tub #3, the air cultured "control" with uranyl acetate as an additive. At the end of the experiment as described in the second report, EDS showed a fairly distinguishable peak for Po (polonium). However the EDS scan taken a week after the reconstitution of the culture shows what appears to be a prominent Sr peak, but the Po signal is now missing. Further transmutation at work?

We also observe generally, although without good quantitative analysis, that both Th and U peaks appear noticeably subdued in EDS scans taken after the reconstitution.

In recent discussion with colleagues, it was considered that if fungal alteration of nuclear materials is viable on a large scale, then there may certainly be a global need for remediation of nuclear waste products besides U and Th. Many of these waste products are radioactive isotopes of lighter elements, such as cesium, and may be the by-products of plutonium refining and medical nuclear materials. The appearance of elements such as W and Sr, and the disappearance of Po, U and Th may point to novel breakdown of the heavier nuclei into lighter species.

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