This is the title given to the first Versailles meeting arranged by the Institut de la Vie in 1967 (cf. Marois 1969). Its history goes back to about 1938, when my late friend Max Reiss told me that biological membranes had been found to maintain a small, 100 mV, electric potential difference. On hearing of its thickness of 10−6 cm, I found that this corresponds to the enormous electrical field of 105 V/cm which ordinary layers will sustain only when special precautions are taken. Also then with an elastic constant corresponding to a sound velocity of 105 cm/s, is a frequency of 1011 Hz found corresponding to millimetre electric waves. Such frequencies were not available at the time, but I asked the help of Willis Jackson to produce them and hence investigate their properties, in particular biosystems, proposed by Victor Rothschild. This research was abandoned through the outbreak of the war, but I remembered it when approached by M. Marois. Meanwhile I had learned that a single idea does not produce a theory. As a second idea I then considered the possible excitations of coherent modes in this frequency region. Long-range phase correlations had been found to describe the order present in superconductors, superfluid helium,lasers, and others. This then could provide the order present in active biological systems (Fröhlich 1968).


Metastable State Schrodinger Equation Flux Quantum Excited Mode Superfluid Helium 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Fröhlich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsOliver Lodge LaboratoryLiverpoolGB

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