The Rife Microscope
Cancer Cure Story
Strange Beliefs: Cancer Cure
Created 12/28/2001 - Updated 11/20/2007
a super microscope | seeing live viruses | glowing viruses | viruses cause cancer
shattering germs with radio waves | cancer cure? | suppression or quackery
| frequencies and how to get them | references
1. How Rife Broke the Vision Barrier | 2. Wavelength of Light Limits Vision | 3. Seeing with Deep UV Light | 4. Multi-Colored Light Limits Vision | 5. Transverse (Polarized) Light | 6. Diffraction Limits Vision | 7. How Rife Overcame Diffraction | 8. Heterodyned Light | 9. Light Frequency | 10. How to Change Light's Frequency | 11. Reply from a Physicist | 12. Microscope Diameters | 13. Rife Scope Resolutions | 14. Smithsonian Report: New Microscopes | 15. Resolutions Compared to Microns/Nanometers | 16. Example Virus: Ebola | 17. Rife microscope in action | 18. Bacterial spore size | 19. a copy of the report | 20. Consulting a microscope man | 21. Conclusion | 22. Definitions | a. Incident light | b. Resolving Power | c. Diffracted Wave | d. Diffraction Limited | e. Magnification | f. Micron | g. Nanometer | h. Bacteria Size | i. Virus Size | j. Diameters | k. Electron Microscope | l. Color
Gerry Vassilatos in the book Lost Science (1999 by Adventures Unlimited Press) reports that Dr. R. Raymond Rife was able to see live viruses because he broke the "vision barrier," a theoretical limit imposed on optical microscopes by physicist Ernst Abbe. Vassilatos and others state that the superior abilities of the Rife Universal Microscope resulted from the following combination: 1. Use of transverse monochromatic deep Ultraviolet light (UV) rays for illumination, 2. adjustable prisms to select different wavelengths of UV light with which to illuminate specimens which caused them to give off light (UV? Visible?) as vanishingly small point sources, 3. all quartz optics to maintain parallel light rays and 4. heterodyning light to achieve amplification (and conversion from UV to visual?)
If you're lost, good! You've come to the right place. Let's learn some science!
The average size human hair is about 75 microns in diameter. The naked eye can not usally see anything smaller than 30 microns.
Light has both wave and particle properties. Visible light's wavelengths vary from 0.7 microns to 0.4 microns.
We percieve different wavelengths of light as different colors. Since the smallest wavelength of visible light is 0.4 microns (deep violet). A scientist named Abbe calculated, therefore, that with an optical microscope it is impossible to resolve (distinguish different parts of ) anything smaller than 0.15 microns.
NOTE: The 0.15 micron Abbe Limit is the same as 150 nanometers which is the size of only the largest viruses.
Why? To be seen by an ordinary light microscope, a feature must reflect (change the direction of) the light hitting it. For any feature smaller than the length of light waves directed at it, the light waves can "roll right over" the feature without being changed. If this happens, the feature is invisible. For this reason shorter wavelengths of light have a greater probability of hitting things and of being deflected.
According to Lost Science Emile Demoyens (1911) discovered "tiny mobile specs" with his optical scope which were visible only at noon during the months of May, June and July, when "great amounts of deep ultraviolet light" were available. Does that claim make sense? Not exactly as stated. Here's why:
Ultraviolet light (UV) is what causes sun burns. In 1932, The International Congress on Light divided UV into three areas: UV-A (400 to 315 nm), UV-B (315 to 280 nm) and UV-C (280 NM and shorter *). Deep ultraviolet wavelengths are in the UV-C range, the farthest from visible light. By definition all ultraviolet ('beyond violet') light is outside the visual spectrum. Most mammals and the normal human eye cannot see it.
Furthermore, and most importantly, all solar short-wavelength UV-C radiation is absorbed and 90% of solar UV-B radiation is absorbed by the ozone layer. Everything I've been able to find says that "great amounts of deep ultraviolet light" would certainly NOT be available at the Earth's surface, since even at noon in the Summer, since 100% of UV-C is blocked.
There are, however, increased amounts of UV-A and UV-B as well as deep violet (visible) light at these times which may have been responsible for improved vision. While we can thank Vassilatos for an inspiring book, his science terms need clarification. When speaking of the Abbe limit he refers to "the extreme ultraviolet light of 0.4 microns". 0.4 microns is 400 NM which is the closest to deep violet visible light. In other words, 400 NM is actually shallow UV-A, or barely visible VIOLET light. Extreme ultraviolet would be in the invisible UV-C range.
Note: The terms UV-A, B & C are used by those who study the biological effects of UV light, not by optical scientists, but this article is about thinking outside the box. Including these terms was useful to help us discover that instead of "deep ultraviolet light" the author probably meant that Rife used "deep violet light".
Why use monochromatic light, that is, light of only one color (wavelength)?
Answer: We saw above why you'd want to use primarily deep violet light: shorter wavelengths reveal smaller details. There is another related reason. A light source with waves that are all same color prevents blurring known as chromatic aberration. This is so because different wavelengths are deflected at slightly different angles. Put another way, the index of refraction of the glass in a lens is different for different wavelengths. ( This is explained in more detail on the next page. )
So far so good, we want monochromatic deep violet light to illuminate our specimine.
Another claim is that Rife used parallel "transverse" light to improve vision. All light waves are transverse, that is, all photons move up and down perpendicular to the direction of the light beam (at 90° from the direction of propagation of the wave). We know light waves are transverse because only transverse waves can be polarized. By comparison, sound waves are longitudinal, that is, they result from compression along the direction of motion. Light emitted from most sources is unpolarized, that is, the light waves vibrate in all transverse directions.
A single polarizing filter will block the light not vibrating in the polarizing direction, leaving only light that vibrates in a single plane. Light is wonderfully complex and multi-dimensional. It can even be circularly or elliptically polarized. For the purpose of this article and the claim that Rife used parallel light waves, however, we will assume he used linearly polarized light.
Human vision does not distinguish between polarized and unpolarized light. How, then, can linearly polarized light help us to see more?
"Polarized light microscopy (Figure 1) provides all the benefits of brightfield microscopy and yet offers a wealth of information, which is simply not available with any other optical microscopy technique." - microscopyu.com
According to one site, "Many samples that are optically isotropic to the unaided eye show various kinds of contrast when illuminated by polarized light. This polarization contrast is induced by dichroism or birefringence."
Translation: Things which look the same in all orientations show added details under plane-polarized light because when rotated in different orientations under this type of light a specimine can reflect different colors and/or may split into double images.
Differaction presents another obstacle to seeing very small things.
You may recall this picture from high school physics: the angle of incidence (the angle at which light hits a surface) will equal the angle of reflection. When light particles hit a surface, they are reflected at slightly different angles by the irregularities of the surface. The differences in the scattering of light from different features is seen as contrasting areas of light and dark which we see as detail.
In reality, things are a little more complicated, because particles of light ( called photos ) travel linked together (we don't really understand how) as waves.
Waves bend behind obstacles, that is, they diffract. Diffraction is the bending of light as light waves pass the edges of objects. Waves also interfere. In addition to diffraction, another property of waves is that they add and subtract as they merge, causing interference patterns. As close parallel light waves bend due to diffraction, they overlap. As light waves overlap, they are simultaneously amplified in places and cancel out in others.
An optical microscope is said to be "diffraction limited" when the interference patterns from reflected light of very close objects cancel each other out so they cannot be distinguished from one another.
If you followed to this point, you now understand light and the of the limits of vision far better than most people!
It is claimed that Rife turned his specimens themselves into light sources. For any two features closer than the diffraction limit, you can't normally resolve them optically ... but you can cheat if you can selectively cause only one of the features to glow! This has been done with modern technology to obtain Far-field fluorescence microscopy beyond the diffraction limit. To overcome diffraction, it is claimed that Rife flooded specimens with brilliant UV-rich light, forcing each to emit its unique absorption spectrum.
Remember, this was done in the 1930's. Modern fluorescence microscopes use wavelengths down to 340 nanometers (UV-A) as well as quartz and other special glass formulations. The Rife scope, using an optic path of solid quartz crystals (see next page) limited divergence (separation over a distance) of light rays from the specimen to the ocular. In other words, the quartz crystal optics kept the light rays parallel. You'll find the same in modern scopes.
Now we step beyond even most expert's understanding.
According to one Austrialian researcher, A particle much smaller than the wavelength of illumination will deflect the path of a light wave to as much as a full 90 deg (according to Kingslake 1992.)The resulting UV image could then be heterodyned with a transverse parallel UV beam back to a light image if desired for live observations. Rife could throw away all light except for highly refracted photons by adjusting Rochon prism alignments which is how he was able to see the BX virus when it was mounted as a dilute solution. 102
Heterodyning is common in radio transmission. 104 A wave of one frequency can be translated to a new frequency by adding or subtracting a new wave. Would this work for UV Light? Could invisible UV photons from the Rife apparatus be combined with additional UV light to create new frequencies in the visual spectrum ... allowing a peek at the world of the super small?!?
First, you'll need to know this... We've been talking about wavelengths of light, but light waves also have frequencies. Frequency is the number of times the light waves "wave" per second. These cycles per second are known as Hertz and are abbreviated "Hz". Visible light ranges from red: 390 trillion Hz (TerraHertz or THz) to violet: 769 THz. (103) UV light vibrates between 750 THz and far UV at 1.5 petaHertz (1000 - 1500 THz) and beyond to X-rays. To see UV light we might subtract two different UV frequencies from each other to end up with a frequency in the visual range (390 THz to 769 THz). If you could get the specimen to emit UV at 900 THz, for example, you could see it as green (550 THz) if you could then get the specimen emitted light to subtract from another UV beam at 1450 THz.
No, you can't just use a filter. A blue (for example) filter blocks non-blue wavelengths of light. It does not convert existing wavelengths (visible or invisible) to blue wavelengths.
There are several ways to convert UV to visible light, including fluorescent phosphors and advanced polymers, but we are interested in this: The idea of Heterodyning light to view the "super small". Here is a heterodyne optical near-field microscope. Shifting frequency in this device is accomplished by two complex crystalline structures called acousto-optical modulators.
"Optical mixing: Optical beating, i.e., the mixing, i.e. , heterodyning, of two lightwaves (incoming signal and local oscillator) in a nonlinear device to produce a beat frequency low enough to be further processed by conventional electronic circuitry. Note: Optical mixing is the optical analog of heterodyne reception of radio signals. [After FAA] Synonym optical heterodyning." - Institute for Telecommunications Science
This Japanese company makes fiber optic tools and claims the "adoption of UV- visible conversion glass".
According to an email reply from a Senior Staff Physicist at a modern crystal manufacturer: "It is possible to perform difference frequency generation with a 900-THz (333 nm) [ that's UV ] radiation and 350-THz (857 nm) [ that's Infra-red ] radiation to produce 550-THz (545 nm) [ that's green ] difference frequency radiation. If the 333-nm radiation is a weak fluorescence, it probably would be better to detect it directly rather than converting to 545 nm. The strong 857-nm radiation could be generated by a titanium:sapphire laser tuned to that wavelength. Quartz will not work as the nonlinear crystal because it will not phase match for the process, and it has a small nonlinearity. A type-I barium borate (BBO) crystal (theta=34.70 degrees) could be used for the process. If this frequency conversion is to be done continuously, conversion efficiency is going to be very low (random counts of single photons)."
Did Rife heterodyne UV and Infra-red ( IR ) into visible light? This is possible, but the above raises some doubts that it could have been done as claimed, using quartz crystals at detectable levels in real time.
"Equipped with the UV-option, the Leica INM300 is suitable to fulfill the new design rules featuring 0.18 micron or 0.15 micron resolving power and ultra-high contrast. Using the highest numerical apertures, dry (non-immersion) objectives, non-destructive, contamination-free inspection of feature sizes as small as 120nm is now possible with an advanced light microscope." (123)
This modern scope advanced light microscope (250x diameters and NA of .95) can see things as small as 150 nanometers. Viruses range from 3 to 300 nanometers, so this modern scope could see some viruses. Note: 1 nanometer is about 10 atoms across.
How does this scope translate "UV" into something visible? I've asked the company. Hopefully the answer will cover my questions about Rife and his supposed use of UV light.
To evaluate claims about Rife's microscopes we should also understand the word "diameters."
DIAMETER is a measure of the magnifying power of a lens. A lens that magnifies an object 5 times, is said to be 5 diameters, or 5X. (more) Magnification is how big the image you see is, compared to the actual image seen with the naked eye at a distance of 10 inches. (119) Magnification, isn't very important by itself. You also need resolving power and contrast. That is, you need differences in light to be able to distinguish features.
Today, the optical limit is about 3,000 "diameters" which can resolve (distinguish different parts of) objects as small as 150 nanometers. This has been pushed as high as 6,000 diameters, but typically 1500 X is the highest practical optical magnification. (26|42)
Rife's Prismatic Microscope in 1930 gave "resolutions of 17,000 diameters" and his Universal Microscope of 1933 provided "resolutions to 31,000 diameters," with magnifications in excess of 60,000 diameters. With photographic enlargement, he was able to provide 300,000 diameter magnifications according to Vassilatos and others. 24 | 26 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37
Here is more inforomation about the Rife Universal Microscope.
Journal of the Franklin Institute
Volume 237(2):103-130 (1944)
The New Microscopes
"... the achromatic condenser which, incidentally, has a numerical aperture of 1.40. ... The objectives used on the Universal Microscope are a 1.12 dry lens, a 1.16 water immersion, a 1.18 oil immersion, and a 1.25 oil immersion."
The rays of light refracted by the specimen enter the objective and are then carried up the tube in parallel rays through twenty-one light bends to the ocular, a tolerance of less than one wavelength of visible light only being permitted in the core beam, or chief ray, of illumination.
Now, instead of the light rays starting up the tube in a parallel fashion, tending to converge as they rise higher and finally crossing each other, arriving at the ocular separated by considerable distance as would be the case with an ordinary microscope, in the Universal tube the rays also start their rise parallel to each other but, just as they are about to cross, a specially-designed quartz prism is inserted which serves to pull them out parallel again, another prism being inserted each time the rays are about ready to cross.
These prisms, inserted in the tube, which are adjusted and held in alignment by micrometer screws of 100 threads to the inch in special tracks made of magnelium (magnelium having the closest coefficient of expansion of any metal to quartz), are separated by a distance of only thirty millimeters.
Thus, the greatest distance that the image in the Universal Microscope is projected through any one media, either quartz or air, is thirty millimeters instead of the 160, 180, or 190 millimeters as in the empty or air-filled tubes of an ordinary microscope, the total distance which the light rays travel zig-zag fashion through the universal tube being 449 millimeters, although the physical length of the tube itself is 229 millimeters." http://www.navi.net/~rsc/seidel.htm
The Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, 1944, pp 193-219, entitled "The New Microscopes" by R E Seidel and M E Winters says:
"Working together back in 1931 and using one of the smaller Rife microscopes having a magnification and resolution of 17,000 diameters, Dr. Rife and Dr. Arthur Isaac Kendall, of the department of bacteriology of Northwestern University Medical School, were able to observe and demonstrate the presence of the filter-passing forms of Bacillus typhosus." 05 | 08
What does it mean to "give a resolution of 17,000 diameters"? What sizes could he see ... in microns or nanometers?
In the picture of a human hair above we can see what 20 microns looks like at 1000 diameters. 06
QUESTION: If you can resolve a 20 micron (20,000 Nanometer) human hair at 1000X, what magnification would you have to reach to resolve a 3 to 300 nanometer virus?
ANSWER: 17,000 may or may not be enough. In the photo below, 160,000 diameters are shown in a view of a virus. As we saw above, the optical limit is 150 nanometers, so you SHOULD be able to pick a good number of viruses ( which range from 3 to 300 nanometers) out from their surroundings with a good optical scope. In other words, seeing viruses does not necessarily mean that Rife broke the Abbe limit.
The Ebola virus ranges from 50 to 300 nanometers. 11 This picture included the magnification in the caption, but we have no idea of the size in microns of this particular specimen.
"Electron micrograph of Ebola Zaire virus. This is the first photo ever taken, on 10/13/1976 by Dr. F.A. Murphy, now then at CDC. Diagnostic specimen in cell culture at 160,000 x magnification." 10
If Rife got up to 160,000 diameters and beyond as claimed, he would indeed have been able to see LIVING viruses and he would have been the first person to do so.
Are there any surviving photo records that prove Rife was able to attain results beyond those of a normal scope? Surprisingly, yes.
Here on the left is a Rife Micrograph of Bacillus Typhosus (responsible for Typhoid fever) shown here at 23,000X on 35 mm film and enlarged 300,000X. 23
This is from "The New Microscopes, Seidel and Winter, 1944"
As an independent observer, how can we know this is really magnified at 23,000 diameters (which recall, is a 23,000 times larger magnification than you would see under clear glass.)
We could compare this to an electron micrograph of Bacillus Typhosus, we'd have a strong clue that Rife had exceeded the 2500 to 5000X limit of optical microscopes.
The image on the right is a "Colorized scanning electron micrograph of the Salmonella typhosa bacterium (Bacillus Typhosus), mag. 4300X (at 24 x 36mm). This species of salmonella is the agent of typhoid fever, which may last from 7 to 11 weeks at the 100-103 degree range and 97-100 during convalescence."
According to those who label Rife such things as "a giant in the medical quackery and pseudoscience worlds," magnifications of the type seen on the left do not really exist because "physicists" and "microscope manufacturers" claim they are "impossible using visible light and only attainable with electron microscopes." (124) Shall we not believe your eyes, then? Rife's image of "Bacillus Typhosus" shows more detail than the 4300X electron micrograph.
But perhaps this is just something that looks like BT but is really something else. Are there any more photos from the Rife super microscope?
Yes. On the left is a cross-section of single tetanus Spore Dissected with Rife's Micromanipulator 25,000x on 35 mm film, enlarged 227,000x. Also from "The New Microscopes, Seidel and Winter, 1944"
This one is harder to see. Again comparison to an electron microscope's view of a tetanus spore should be compared.
On the right is a "colorized transmission electron micrograph of the Clostridium tetani (tetanus spore) at the end of desporulation, magnified 15,000 times. Copyright © C.N.R.I. / Phototake -- All rights reserved."
Again the Rife Scope image shows detial on the surface of the spore which is not visible on the electron micrograph. Taking a look at both Rife scope images and comparing them leaves me convinced that despite the debunkers, Rife's scope worked.
Here are some more things to consider:
1. In general bacterial spores have "diameters of around two microns - about one-hundredth the width of a human hair - they are smaller than the resolution limit of most light microscopes"
2. Spore sizes vary enough from bacteria to bacteria that spore size differences may be used to identify the bacteria.
3. Although spores are supposed to be the dormant stage of bacteria, scientists at Berkeley have discovered that spores swell up to 4% under high humidity and that this swelling may be preparation for reproduction. 101 The Bacillus subtilis spore to the right is 1.2 microns across (by S. Pankratz)
From the University of California library, I obtained the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1944 (Q11 S6 1943/44). Full page photos of the above do indeed appear claiming 23,000X to 25,000X resolutions. The Universal Microscope is indeed described in detail in this article.
When showing these photos to a senior microscope repairman at a nearby University, his comment was "I have a hard time imagining how you would get an objective that big. That would be a BIG objective." He confirmed that resolutions of this size should not be possible with an optical microscope. Could monochromatic light would improve resolution? He honestly didn't know. Can people see live viruses with an optical scope? Sure, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, but that's huge.
Are any scopes today constructed with quartz prisms? Yes. The Confocal scope can resolve at very high powers. In practice, the best resolution of a Confocal microscope is about 0.2 microns. (Viruses are 0.003 to 0.3 microns.)
How expensive are quartz prisms? A single quartz prism could be obtained from Zeiss, but would probably cost from $5,000 to $8,000.
Rife may have seen live viruses even without breaking the Abbe limit. There is no surviving supporting photographic proof beyond the Smithsonian prints claiming resolutions which rival the electron microscope (17,000 - 300,000 diameters), but the few images which do exist are compelling proof that the Rife Microscopes worked.
RESOLVING POWER: The ability to distinguish different parts of an object. If two details are very close, you will see them as one single detail. Many stars you can see with the naked eye are actually two or more stars. Telescopes allow you to resolve seemingly single stars into the true components.
DIFFRACTED WAVE: Wave whose front has been changed in direction by an obstacle or other non homogeneity in a medium, other than by reflection or refraction.
INTERFEROMETER: two or more separate telescopes ( or other EM collectors ) that combine their signals almost as if they were coming from separate portions of a telescope as big as the two telescopes are apart.
MAGNIFICATION: Is how big an object can be made. If you magnify an object 500,000 times, but you lack resolving power, you will still see not see the details in the object. [ 05 ]
METER: Defined as the length of 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red radiation of 86Kr in a vacuum. 
MICRON: One millionth of a meter. Also called a micrometer. A human hair is about 50 to 200 microns wide, and a single human red blood cell is 5 microns across. [ 01 | 02 | 04 ]
NANOMETER: One-billionth of a meter. That is, 10-9 meter, or one millionth of a millimeter. A virus 0.1 microns in size is also 100 nanometers in size. A human hair is about 50,000 nanometers in the diameter. 1 nanometer is about 10 atoms wide. [ 01 ]
BACTERIA SIZE: A common bacteria is about one-hundredth the size of a human cell. Bacteria are 0.3 to 30 microns long and may be 0.1 microns wide. They can be seen with a common optical microscope. [ 03 | 04 | 07 ]
DIAMETERS: The magnifying power of a lens. A lens that magnifies an object 5 times, is said to be 5 diameters, or 5X. Diameters measure magnification, not resolving power. You can increase magnification without increasing visible detail.
COLOR: Ordinary sunlight contains all wavelengths (colors) of light in the visible spectrum. The color we perceive an object to be depends on the wavelengths of light that object absorbs and reflects. Only the reflected wavelengths reach our eye and are seen as color.
NOTES: Abbe's law of limiting resolution ( also see Rayleigh Criterion ) says that optical microscopes cannot resolve (distinguish different parts of ) objects smaller than .15 to .2 microns (millionths of a meter, or µm). This is because optical resolution ( visually seeing different parts) depends entirely on the wavelength (color) of incident light (light falling on an object), the limit being one third of the wavelength used for illumination. 43
Light travels as waves and different colors of light have different wavelengths. A microscope is said to be diffraction limited in its ability to see details when illuminated structures cause light returned to the viewer to bend due to diffraction.
From another source, "in diffraction limited instruments, such as the microscope, the Abbe limit of optical resolution at an average wavelength of 550 nanometers (0.55 microns) is 220 nanometers (0.22 microns) when using an objective lens having a numerical aperture of 1.4." 101
UV Notes: Scientists divide ultraviolet into three different regions: near, far, and extreme ultraviolet. Near UV is closest in wavelength to visible light and extreme UV is closest to X-rays. The Sun is a strong UV emitter of all types, but only near UV reaches the surface of the Earth because the ozone in the atmosphere absorbs all wavelengths below 290 nm. Artificially, UV light is usually produced with mercury-vapour and deuterium lamps. These lamps also produce a certain visible light content. So when you turn them on they glow white or pink.
There is a device called a UVB-1 Pyranometer that uses a fluorescent phosphor to convert UV-B light to visible light. Fluorescent phosphors can be used to convert visble to UV as well, but this isn't exactly what we are looking for.
According to Science (283 663) a crystal of lithium gadolinium fluoride doped with europium - emits two visible photons for every UV photon it absorbs using a new technique known as quantum cutting.
According to the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics from November 1967, Robert C. Miller and W. A. Nordland accomplished Conversion of near infrared to visible light by optical mixing. This additive and we are looking for conversion from UV.
Research News 11/1997 New polymer coatings can make ultra-violet light visible to the human eye. They convert UV rays into blue light. Applications extend from light bulbs to UV detection systems and UV protection in horticulture.
Frequency conversion by 3-wave nonlinear processes is the conversion of electromagnetic radiation from one frequency into two other frequencies or from two into one. ... it is possible to greatly enhance the frequency conversion effect through a phenomenon known as phase matching. This occurs when the interacting components of light travel through the material with the same velocity and optimized phase... - clevelandcrystals.com. Also see Sam's Laser FAQ.
(*) Others separate UV-A and B at 320 nm and end UV-C at 190 nm so you'll see various figures.
Polarizers create linearly polarized light by selective absorption, reflection, or refraction of the two orthogonal polarizations of unpolarized light. Circularly and elliptically polarized light are obtained by introducing a phase shift to linearly polarized light with a retardation plate.
Hugh Powell made very high power objectives, an apochromat immersion lens of NA 1,50 in 1896 for instance. (122)