The science behind ‘Torchwood’: Morphic Fields
Viewers of television series ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ will have heard Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) mentioning the term “morphic fields”. The premise for the latest series of the science fiction programme, which finished last week, was that the human race stopped dying because of external forces controlling the laws of nature.
Jack explained that these morphic fields were part of the reason (along with The Blessing) why the human race had become immortal and that they were helping to keep human cells alive by changing biology. Like most science fiction, there is always some sort of scientific basis behind the story and the same is true for ‘Miracle Day’.
The theories of morphic fields and morphic resonance have been developed by biologist, Rupert Sheldrake who suggests that there are interconnections between organisms and collective memories within species. Essentially, Sheldrake says that there is memory within nature which is part of evolution and biological development.
He argues that morphogenesis (the process by which an organism develops), genes and gene products are not enough to explain how plants develop and that there is a telepathy-type connection that passes biological information on.
Biological development both in plants and in animals depends on organizing fields which are also known variously as biological fields, developmental fields, positional fields or morphogenetic fields. These fields impose patterns of activity on cells so that they will develop in a certain way. However, Sheldrake says that these fields are not fixed but evolve over time. Species evolve over time and these fields of organization are passed on through morphic resonance (this telepathic-like connection) to “instruct” cells how to develop. In its most general formulation, Sheldrake’s hypothesis is that the so-called laws of nature are not fixed, but are more like evolving habits.
Sheldrake has studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University and a Ph.D in Biochemistry there. He also studied Philosophy and History of Science at Harvard University. He is a former Research Fellow of the Royal Society and has written more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. Most recently, new editions of his books ‘A New Science of Life’ and ‘The Presence of the Past’ have been published.
For more information about Rupert Sheldrake and morphic fields visit: www.sheldrake.org
Image credit: Getty ImagesTagged in: Captain Jack Harkness, John Barrowman, science fiction, torchwood
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