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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 1, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(21):2668. doi:10.1001/jama.292.21.2668-a

Since the discovery of the Roentgen ray, there has been a vast stimulation of research in this branch of science, but the scientific merits of some of the claims which have been made are still in doubt, while those of the others are clear over the line of probability. The N-rays of Blondlot are still sub judice, and their reality is doubted by some competent physicists. We are not sure by any means that the really crucial experiments which would demonstrate their existence have yet been made. Now comes the alleged discovery of a still further form of emanations, called by the describer, Di Brazza, the I-rays, closely allied to the N-rays, and given off from the brain during certain psychic processes, such as concentration of the attention. Until these can be proved to be real by physical experiments, absolutely free from suspicion of any subjective errors, it is well to reserve our opinions as to their existence. That they will ever be demonstrated by such positive tests as are the x-rays is doubtful. Now comes a British physician, claiming that the N-rays or something of their character emitted by the human body, vary according to the character and disposition of the individual. There will, perhaps, be other announcements of discoveries of the sort, as there is almost no end to the possibilities of subjective deception and credulity. The desire to correlate the psychic and physical takes on this particular development frequently, but invariably fails in the scientific demonstrations.