Book Review: The Body Electric

Reading medical books for leisure isn’t one of my preferred hobbies. But I did just read a really insightful book called “The Body Electric: Electromagnetism And The Foundation Of Life” (see Amazon page). It was published over 30 years ago by a top researcher in the US, Robert Becker. You might think it’s dated or dry or gross or full of scientific jargon – but no it’s a really fascinating read.

The topics cover everything from nerves to bones to blood cells to electric currents and magnetism. Animals from rates to salamanders to frogs all feature. Becker was a pioneer in the field of regeneration and its relationship to electrical currents in living things. His research proved that electricity is vital to life. Awe all have electric currents running through our bodies.

The power of all this is clear once you see how regeneration applies today to human limbs, spinal cords and organs. Through detailed experiments on salamanders he showed how if they lose part of their leg through injury, it magically regrows. Nerves, bones, muscle – they all develop out of nothing. He shows how electricity and currents are central to this.

Some of the material is heavy on physics, biology, chemistry and physiology, but you can learn a lot about our bodies and how it all works. The human body is a feat of engineering that no one really understands fully.

Becker challenged convention in the 60s and 70s and his radical ideas met lots of resistance. This limited his funding, grants and acceptance as it challenged the status quo. There’s insights to the biased allocation of research funding, political and military interference from protected interests. there’s even great insights into the Cold War and how electromagnetic wavs were used by hee soviets to block US communications or cause physical pain to US Embassy staff in Moscow.

All in all, a surprise read that I wouldn’t have discovered, without a recommendation. Thanks Rene Borg, running coach of ChampionsEverywhere, for mentioning it a few years ago.

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