History of the Bio-Mag
It is unfortunate that dad passed away before I had the materials prepared for this web page. I will do my best to recount events as they occurred at Qsine but I may get some of the events wrong.Dr. Urban Pittman...
Dr. Urban Pittman, shown to the right (this picture is from the 70's), was considered by many as the "Father of Bio-Magnetism". Qsine was introduced to the subject by papers written by Dr. Pittman while he was a researcher at the Agricultural Research Station in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Apparently, the link between magnetism and plant growth was an observation Dr. Pittman made while pulling Canadian thistle. He noticed that the tap root always pointed North (I have never tried to verify this but it seems like quite an astute observation). He also noticed that around large electrical towers the tap roots would point other directions but, in a given area, they would be consistent. In other words, the fields created by the big power lines were throwing off the plants "compass".
It was in the early 70's when Dr. Pittman's papers were published in some of the Agricultural trade papers (At that time Qsine was involved with agricultural machinery more than we are today). Dad and his one employee, Bob Laidlaw, were both "farm boys" and had a good laugh when they read these papers. Neither thought that what he was writing about could be true. However, as they talked about it they decided it would be very simple to test.
The First Skeptical Test...
Dad already had a fairly strong bar magnet at the office so all he did was go out and pick up a bag of wheat seed and a few petri dishes. They wetted some paper towel set in the petri dishes and placed a few seeds in each dish; waved the magnet close to the seeds in one dish and left the other alone. Skeptically, they awaited the results. After several days, they were no longer laughing. Dr. Pittman's results had been duplicated. The treated seeds had germinated faster and it was obvious that the plants were growing more vigorously.
Further experiments were carried out to try and understand the phenomenon futher. The results were inconsistent but most times (about 70% of the time) the effect was visible. Not often but every once in a while plant development seemed to get stunted. The reason for this is still unknown.
Be Careful Where You Keep Your Seeds...
Another discovery was that seeds could be treated with very small magnetic fields if they were exposed to it for a long period of time. Several months into the testing it seemed like the magnetic treatment was losing it effect - the treated seeds were no longer advancing quicker than the untreated seeds. It was decided to try another batch of seed and a new bag was brought in. The effect returned immediately.
Again, within a few months the effect seemed to be disappearing. It was now hypothesized that the magnet was treating the seeds over time. Although there was a large separation between the seed and the magnet, the exposure was for a long period of time. The next bag of seed was kept in a storage room far from the test magnets and other fields and this cured the problem of declining effect.
Off to Market...
Field testing was also conducted and, again while the result were inconsistent, most of the time the desired effect was there. The first generation Bio-Mag was put into small scale manufacturing and marketing began. Testing continued as marketing was developed. The first generation on the Bio-Mag had an exposed magnet (compared to the plastic enclosed magnet of the more recent version). Testing was showing that some seeds were getting stunted and sometimes killed going through the Bio-Mag. As further testing was done, it appeared that seeds coming in direct contact with the pole of the magnet, where the field intensity is strongest, were the ones affected.
While seeds could not be stunted or killed repeatably, the effect was frequently noticeable. The encapsulated magnet of the newer Bio-Mag was found to stunt seeds less often that the exposed magnet.
Development of the market progessed quickly about the same time as the newer version of the Bio-Mag became available. There were many manufacturers offering a wide variety of magnetic seed treaters by the mid 1970's. There were also many wild claims and rumors surrounding these "magical" devices. Qsine had set up a distributor network in Canada and the United States and was selling them by the thousands.
I am not exactly sure of the marketing details but the Bio-Mag got sold into a region that erupted into a patent dipute that almost bankrupted Qsine.
Out of the Pot, into the Fire...
As trouble never comes one event at a time, about the time of the law suit, a report came out from the Prarie Agricultural Machine Institute (PAMI) claiming that all magnetic seed treaters were bogus and provided no effects in the "real" growing world. A PDF of the report is available by clicking here. The claims came from one year of testing and I have not found the procedures for their testing. They asked dad for a Bio-Mag for the tests they were conducting in January of 1976. The report came out in June of 1976 so it is likely that the Bio-Mag was not thoroughly tested.
Anyway, this report basically killed the whole industry. Dad told me that he was sure that Qsine was going to go under. At that time the law suit was not quite settled and he expected he would have to refund people's money for thousands of Bio-Mags. As it turned out, the distributor network sent back everything they had on their shelves (about 3000 units) but not one came back from the users.
Why Talk About it Now?...
Since the time that the inventory was returned, Qsine has moved to larger facilities several times and we have either had the Bio-Mags in storage or moved them with us. Many thanks to Ken Burns who stored them for years on his acerage. We still have them in our tent at our latest facility. Many times over the years we have thought: "Let's just throw them out!" but have never been able to bring ourselves to do it.
...this has led me to my present day mission: to use the old Bio-Mag inventory to increase the awareness of the magnetic phenomenon. We learned that there is some influence on life by magnetism but Qsine is not equipped to discover the mechanics of the influence. The inconsistent results that we have seen with this device in the past tells me that our understanding of it is either incorrect or incomplete. As far as I know magnetic seed treating, as an industry, died in 1976 after the PAMI report. There are few people that have seen this phenomenon and before the entire science disappears, I would like other people to discover it.
To me, it is amazing that Dr. Pittman was observant enough to see a pattern in the root system of a weed. We are fortunate to have stumbled upon and witnessed one of these little truths in life. If this science were to disappear I despair that it will take years if not centuries for someone to rediscover what Dr. Pittman did.
On a closing note, one of the other reasons I have decided to promote awarness of this phenomenon is the raging debate about whether our cell phones and other EMF generating devices are killing us by accelerating cancer development in our bodies. As I listen to researchers and spokes people talk about "heating effects" and other subjects as being inconsistent or inconclusive, I draw so many parallels to what dad saw in the experiments with the Bio-Mag.
Similar to the Bio-Mag, I also feel that people who are making conclusions about the effects of electromagnetic radiation are discounting the times things just turned out opposite to what they expected. My guess is that while cell phones may be invigorating brain tumors in some people, they are preventing them in others. I also think that the long term effect of radiation cannot possibly be understood yet. Radio transmission is barely a century old, television has been around for 2-4 generations depending on how old you are and the majority of cell phone towers and cell phones have come into existence in less than 10 years. Ask yourself this: "If the Bio-Mag can cause plants to grow more vigorously, is it possible that children are growing so big these days because of their exposure to radiation from the plethora of devices we have around us now? And not just from what they eat?". While I'm a bit tongue in cheek when I ask this, remember that every person I have explained the Bio-Mag to has laughed and said: "You've gotta be kiddin' me!"