SES 0318834 Nandita Nair, Independent Scholar "The Making of a Science-Eight Pioneers in Bioelectromagnetics"

The objective of this project is to record extensive videotaped interviews with eight American scientists who have done breakthrough research in the field of Bioelectromagnetics. Bioelectromagnetics is an area of scientific enquiry which examines the effects of electric and magnetic fields and low-frequency electromagnetic radiation on biological systems. The relationship of electricity and magnetism to life has been a subject of scientific interest for hundreds of years. In the 1950's, incidental observations regarding the health effects of field exposure during military communication systems research prompted a reexamination of what scientists had for years viewed as completely mapped territory regarding the interaction of electromagnetism and living things. With epidemiological studies conducted in the 1960's and 70's, Bioelectromagnetics began to emerge as a distinct research field. Over the last forty years, Bioelectromagnetics has grown out of bold and often controversial research conducted by a few dozen scientific pioneers working in areas as diverse as medicine, physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering, weapons development, neuroscience, psychiatry and the space program. The eight scientists to be interviewed in this project are the senior-most and most innovative and influential members of this group: Orthopedic surgeon, Robert Becker; physicists Abraham Liboff, Allan Frey, Ted Litovitz and Ed Leeper; psychologist, Nancy Wertheimer; physician, W. Ross Adey; and electrochemist, Arthur Pilla. Each of these scientists has been integral in laying the foundation for present-day Bioelectromagnetics. There is a high degree of urgency to this project, as most of the scientists to be interviewed are of advanced years. All remain active and vital contributors to the field and all are eloquent and reflective in speaking about their work, the work of others, and the lessons they have learned about the relationship of science to politics and culture. This project will be planned and executed by an experienced interdisciplinary team uniquely qualified to undertake this type of research: -- a physicist, well versed in the history and science of Bioelectromagnetics; a historian of technology with a specialization in oral history; and a filmmaker experienced in documentary videography for archival purposes. The team will develop a research and production protocol which will serve not only as a guideline for these eight interviews, but also as a template for use in creating future additions to the project. A digital video format will be used, to create broadcast and archival quality video documents that can be duplicated without degeneration of image and sound quality, and which will allow for the greatest number of options in document storage and accessibility. A full written transcript of each interview will also be made. And a workbook of this production template will be made available for use by other researchers interested in using digital video in their work. At a later stage, the team will form a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University's Informedia Group, developers of video storage and retrieval software systems, to create a larger, permanent, fully cross-referenced, captioned and Internet accessible computer-based archive of interviews, articles and animated models illustrating scientific principles pertaining to Bioelectromagnetics. In this way, the proposed project serves both as an independent research project of lasting value, and as a critical first stage of a larger educational endeavor. Interviews with these eight pioneers in Bioelectromagnetics present a unique opportunity to record the first-person accounts of individuals who not only made key contributions to their respective fields, but who found themselves participants in the exciting and precarious creation of a new science. The videos will serve as invaluable primary source materials for students and teachers, scientists, historians and sociologists alike. They will bring together in one place, and in a single accessible and engaging format, clear explanations of the theoretical underpinnings of the various, cross-disciplinary aspects of Bioelectromagnetics research, while also affording a rare inside look at the creative process of the scientist, and the ongoing social, political and personal processes by which a new science seeks to establish itself.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Frederick M Kronz
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Nair Nandita R
United States
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