Fringe (TV series)

Last week I introduced you to the residents of Edina, NY on Fringe.

This week, I want to share with you some of the research I have found regarding utilization of a form of electromagnetic pulse to disfigure a group of people. I’m not a geneticist, biologist or any other kind of ist,  and found a lot of what I read hard to get through. However, for you, I pushed through and this is what I found.

High-altitude nuclear explosion

First off, I’ll start with what an EMP is. If you’ve ever watched the show Dark Angelyou know that it’s a radiation surge caused by nuclear (not pronounced nucular) energy in the upper atmosphere. According to this episode of Fringe, an EMP, tuned to a specific frequency was supposed to alter the optic nerve to fool a person into seeing something other than what was really there (we’ll talk more about that next week). However, during the experimentation, something went horribly wrong and the poor, unsuspecting residents of Edina became morbidly disfigured. We’re talking Elephant Man disfigured.

Secondly, an EMP tuned to the “proper” frequency would have to cause a dramatic germline mutation for this to be true. This is when the germ cells, which are biological cells, turn into gamete cells and join with other cells during the fertilization process. In other words, these are cells so far down in our physical make-up that any change to them would be passed on to our offspring.

So, is it possible to use any type of EMP  to change these cells on a molecular level? After all, we are talking about something akin to Gene Therapy (except in reverse).

Gene therapy wasn’t widely successful in clinical trials until about 2006. Since then, these trials have shown successful treatment of certain forms of leukemia, Parkinson’s Disease and adrenoleukodystrophy. However, these therapy’s used DNA, not an EMP.

OSHA radiation spectrum
OSHA radiation spectrum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, from what I’ve gathered (someone correct me if I’m wrong), EM radiation such as Terahertz Radiation, could not be used in this particular experiment because TR is absorbed by water. And since our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water, it would never reach the molecular level to do any damage. Other types of EM radiation, such as Radio and Microwaves are used to carry information. Infrared, and Visible light, are non ionizing radiation and therefore could not cause a genetic mutation. Ultraviolet (which can cause cancer), X-rays, which we use to see bones and Gamma Rays which, thanks to our atmosphere, stays out in space and doesn’t kill us (but apparently can turn someone into a Hulk) are ionizing radiation and can cause damage on a genetic level.

So if the fictional Army scientists were using one of the 3 EM radiations which are ionizing, then it is very probable that they caused the terrible genetic deformation. However, if this is true, there is also the fact that these types of radiation kill. Fictional license sort of left that out of the equation of this story.

Join me next week when I show you what I’ve found regarding whether or not a microwave EMP radiation can be used to fool the optic nerve into seeing what isn’t really there.

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