In the January 24 post, “Understanding the Energy around Us,” we discussed the electromagnetic energy bouncing all around and within us. And in the January 21 post, “Can Spintronics Explain Physiological Information Storage?” we explored the possibility that spintronics, or magnetoelectronics, might shed light on how our body collects, stores and processes information.
Now, let’s merge those two ideas together to see if we can shed light on how our body might collect information from our environment.
Everything in our environment, including our bodies, emits electromagnetic waves which can be described in terms of light frequencies (see the light spectrum graphic below).
Every chemical element (oxygen, hydrogen, iron, etc.) has a unique emission spectrum that is defined by the total amount of light frequencies (or electromagnetic radiation) emitted by the element’s atoms. Emission spectroscopy is the identification of elements using their unique emission spectrum; it is used, for instance, in chemical analysis, to identify unknown substances, and, in astronomy, to identify the composition of stars.
As an example, the emission spectrum of hydrogen looks like this:
The emission spectrum of oxygen is:
Every substance, including our body, is made up of numerous chemical elements. And every day, all the electromagnetic waves (or electromagnetic radiation) emitted by all the substances and the people in our environment can travel through our body and potentially interact with our atomic particles.
The interaction of external electromagnetic waves with our body’s atomic particles—a relatively new field of research—is highly complex (with more than two quadrilliard or octillion electrons and atomic particles in our body and a zillion times more in our environment, you can begin to understand why!) and depends on many factors, some of which include:
- The amplitude (or strength) of the electromagnetic energy;
- How much of the energy is reflected and refracted by air, obstacles and our skin;
- Permittivity of the substances in our body, or their ability to transmit or permit an electric field;
- Conductivity of the substances in our body, or how well electricity travels through them;
- Permeability of the substances in our body, or the degree of magnetization obtained by them in response to a magnetic field;
- The composition and thickness of the substances in our body that help to determine the depth of penetration and the level of interaction; and,
- Temperature of the substances in our body, which changes depending on our activity level.
Whether electromagnetic energy is absorbed, transmitted or reflected by our body, every time there is an interaction, there is a transfer of energy at the atomic level.
In molecular spintronics, the simple spins of electrons and nuclei of organic molecules are being encoded with information. The information stored can then be read electronically. Would it be feasible, every time an electromagnetic wave interacts with an atom in our body, that the “information” it carries is encoded and stored in that atom? And, would it be feasible for our body, which runs on electric charges, to read and process that “information” during the many spin ups and spin downs that take place within that atom?
If information from our environment and from the people around us can be encoded, stored and processed in our atoms, that would help to explain, at the most basic level, how our bodies work and how they react to factors in our lives. When someone is angry with us or when someone smiles at us, the electromagnetic energy they emit could potentially affect us more deeply than we had ever imagined.
Something for everyone to ponder.
Sources and more information:
“Emission spectrum” on Wikipedia. Accessed January 25, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emission_spectrum
“Spectroscopy” on Wikipedia. Accessed January 25, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_spectroscopy
“Sample Spectra of Gases” on Penn State Astronomy & Astrophysics. Accessed January 25, 2011. http://www.astro.psu.edu/astrofest/samplespectra.html
“Interaction of Electromagnetic Radiation and Matter” on NDT Resource Center. Accessed January 25, 2011. http://www.ndt-ed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/RadiationSafety/theory/interaction.htm
“Permeability” on Wikipedia. Accessed January 25, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permeability_(electromagnetism)
“Permittivity” on Wikipedia. Accessed January 25, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permittivity
“Interactions between Electromagnetic Fields and Biological Tissues: Questions, Some Answers and Future Trends” by Laurent Nicolas and the Modelling Research Group of the CEGELY (Lyon, France). Accessed January 25, 2011. http://www.compumag.org/jsite/images/stories/newsletter/ICS-03-10-2-Nicolas.pdf
An Internet resource for the calculation of Dielectric Properties of Body Tissues in the frequency range 10 Hz – 100 GHz. Italian National Research Council. Institute for Applied Physics. http://niremf.ifac.cnr.it/tissprop/
“Interactions of Electromagnetic Waves with Biological Tissue” by Omer T. Inan. Accessed January 25, 2011. www.stanford.edu/~omeri/Interactions%20of%20EM%20waves%20.ppt
“No Matter How You Spin It: Long-Term Information Storage Technique Makes Spintronics More Feasible” by John Matson on Scientific American site. Published December 20, 2010. Accessed January 25, 2011. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=spin-memory
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Touchy Subjects is owned and operated by Brenda Piquette. All information on the Touchy Subjects blog is copyright Brenda Piquette 2010 / 2011. Note: This information is provided for entertainment purposes only and should be verified for accuracy.
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