Chapter 17

This cautious approach dictated by scientific mores was made more explicit by Baranger in an interview for Science et Vie in 1959. “My results look impossible,” said Baranger, “but there they are. I have taken every precaution. I have repeated the experiments many times. I have made thousands of analyses for years. I have had the results verified by third parties who did not know what I was about. I have used several methods. I changed my experimenters. But there’s no way out; we have to submit to the evidence: plants know the old secret of the alchemists. Every day under our very gaze they are transmuting elements.

“We cannot deny the existence of something just because we don’t know about it,” said Kervran. “The kind of energies to which the great Austrian natural scientist and clairvoyant Rudolf Steiner refers as cosmic etheric forces must exist if only from the fact that certain plants will only germinate in springtime no matter what amounts of heat and water are administered to them during other parts of the year. There are varieties of wheat said to germinate only as the days lengthen, but, when days are artificially lengthened, the wheat does not always germinate.

We do not know what matter really is, says Kervran. We do not know what a proton or an electron is made of, and the words serve only to cloak our ignorance. He suggests that inside atomic nuclei may lie forces and energies of a totally unexpected nature and that a physical theory to explain the low energy transmutations with which he deals must be sought, not in the hypotheses of classical nuclear physics based on powerful interactions, but in the field of hyperweak interactions in which there is no assurance of the operation of the established laws of conservation of energy or even the existence of a mass/energy equivalent.

Physicists, says Kervran, are mistaken in claiming that physical laws are the same for the living as for inanimate matter. Many physicists declare, for instance, that a negative entropy, a force which in biology would build up matter, is an impossibility, since the second principle of thermodynamics of Carnot-Clausius, regarding the breakdown of energy, states that there is only positive entropy, i.e., that the natural state of matter is chaos and that all things run down and become random, losing heat and not acquiring it.

In contradiction to the physicists, Wilhelm Reich held that the accumulators he built to collect a energy, which he named “orgone,” permanently raised the temperature inside their tops, thus making nonsense of the second law of thermodynamics. Despite the fact that he demonstrated the phenomenon to Albert Einstein in his house in Princeton, and that Einstein confirmed the phenomenon, though he could not account for it, Reich was considered mad.