Forgotten Genius: Dr. Royal Raymond Rife


The inventor and his invaluable contributions to imaging and medical microscopy. Royal Raymond Rife made an invaluable contribution to medical microscopes. As a scientist, inventor, and engineer, particularly in imaging and medical microscopy, Royal Raymond Rife was a genius. He was to medical optics what Nikola Tesla was to physics. In 1913, industrial tycoon Henry Timken of the Timken Roller Bearing Company in Canton, Ohio, sought Rife’s help to solve a manufacturing problem. The solution was a scanning machine that could evaluate the quality of the steel used in the company’s roller bearings before going into production. The scanner improved the quality of the company’s products and streamlined production to such a degree that Timken was overjoyed. When he learned that Rife’s passion was medical imaging, Timken gave him his full financial support and set him up at the family’s estate in San Diego to create his personal lab. No expense was too great and nothing was held back.

Rife’s previous work had led him to believe that microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) were at the root of all disease. To prove his theory, he had to see these pathogens in their live state during his experiments, some of which were so small, particularly viruses, that no imaging equipment existed that could come close to viewing them. That wasn’t a stumbling block to Rife. As a mechanical engineer and microscopy expert, he built a microscope that could magnify 60,000 times, and the superior magnification was equaled by its resolution. The microorganisms Rife was viewing were so infinitesimally small that the atoms in the chemical stain normally used to expose microorganisms would have obscured them. Instead Rife’s microscope used monochromatic light that caused the organism to fluoresce. Rife could identify the virus he was observing by the color it refracted.

Years later in 1944, both the Journal of the Franklin Institute for Scientific and Mechanical Arts and The Smithsonian featured the Rife Universal Microscope alongside the newly created electron microscope in articles on emerging technology in optics. In The Smithsonian article entitled “The New Microscopes,” three micrographs from the Rife Universal Microscope were printed. The resolution of those images was unmatched by any existing technology, including the electron microscope. In fact they’re still unmatched even by today’s technology. What’s more, those images were taken ten years prior by Rife in 1934.

Rife discovered that a simple electromagnetic wave wasn’t enough to destroy a microorganism. Instead he found a radio frequency wave was readily accepted by the body if it was emitted by a gas within a glass tube.

The other astounding feature of the Rife Universal Microscope was that viruses could be viewed in their live state, like a movie, whereas the electron microscope could only view viruses in still images, or like photos. When studying any organism, observing how it moves and behaves in real time provides much more valuable information than viewing it as a static image. Over the course of 20 years, Rife would build five of his microscopes, some requested by the most prestigious research scientists in the world. The Rife Universal Microscope created a paradigm shift in pathology and microbiology research because much of what his device could do is still considered impossible today. But the biggest change was yet to come.

Knowing everything vibrated at its own frequency, Rife believed that if he could discover the vibrational frequencies at which disease-causing microorganisms vibrated, then he could bombard them with that frequency until they shook so hard they exploded, the same way an opera singer matches the frequency of a wine glass with her voice and shatters it. Rife discovered that a simple electromagnetic wave wasn’t enough to destroy a microorganism. Instead he found a radio frequency wave was readily accepted by the body if it was emitted by a gas within a glass tube. This allowed the frequency wave to penetrate deeply into the body with scalpel-like precision. Because the wave was precisely tuned to the frequency of the microorganism, only the pathogen was affected, leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. Rife considered a disease cured when he could destroy a microorganism ten consecutive times using what he called its Mortal Oscillatory Rate (MOR). His surviving records show he found the MOR for 24 microorganisms including anthrax, cholera, tetanus, B. coli, influenza, spinal meningitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, syphilis, gonorrhea, leprosy, streptococcus, conjunctivitis, bubonic plague, staphylococcus, diphtheria, and typhoid.

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