Other: Divining Rods and Earth Rays

At the moment it is unclear who commissioned and what the context was of this TNO research in 1947-1948.
On the other hand, the report provides insight into the approach to the subject at the time. That’s why we’ve translated the report.



Author: F. S. van Davelaar

Date: November 1948

Note: the writing style and Dutch spelling dates back to 1948

Goal: By tracing the physical cause of the dowsing rods, to be able to construct an indicator, working completely outside of humans. 

Brief content: After a short introduction, dealing with the history of the divining rod, the research method followed is motivated, after which eight different hypotheses regarding the cause of the divining rod effect are explained and, as far as possible, the weak spots in this theories indicated.

Conclusion: The number of observations to test the hypotheses that have not yet been eliminated must be expanded until only one of the formulated hypotheses proves valid, or a new hypothesis can be constructed.

Table of Contents

  1. History
  2. Method of investigation
  3. Phenomenology
    1. The Divining Rod
    2. Biological Effects
    3. Earth radiation
    4. The Dowser
  4. Hypotheses to explain the divining effect and/or the biological influences
    1. Electrostatic Effects
    2. Electromagnetic Effects
    3. Magnetic Effects
    4. Cosmic ray image
    5. Air Electric Effects
    6. Radioactive effect
    7. Material radiation
    8. Para-psychological
  5. Conclusion

Literature references
The number before the division sign in the parenthetical references in the text indicates the number of the work or article from the bibliography inserted at the end; the number after the division sign on the relevant pages.

    1. History.
      Definitive reports of the dowsing rod and its use first date from the Middle Ages; however, there are indications that the divining rod (often in a different form than we know today) was used thousands of years ago. In the last fifty {years}, in addition to the ancient purpose of dowsing, the search for subterranean material things (water, ores, foundations, etc.) (20; 21; 22), a second purpose, the search for health-damaging influences related to living tissues. (9; 10; 11; 14; 25; 28). Especially this last application still has many opponents. The majority of dowsers (who are known as such) in the Netherlands are particularly concerned with the health-damaging influence. The fact that the first part of dowsing is rarely practised here in the Netherlands is because water is present almost everywhere and ore and oil deposits were initially not considered to be present here. Research on earth rays and divining rods is currently taking place in many places and many countries. (1; 14; 17)
    2. Method of investigation.
      Although the literature on this subject is very extensive, no physical support could be found as a basis for further development. However, eight hypotheses could be distilled from the literature. To find out of these the only correct one, if any; had to proceed to a phenomenological investigation, such as observing the behaviours of the divining rod under different circumstances; the occurrence and the possible effect of terrestrial radiation. In the biological field, most facts could be gathered, given the extensive literature on this side of the problem and our observations, which were also practically confined to this side. Almost all experiments amount to artificially creating the conditions which, according to some hypotheses, are supposed to be present, and to trace the influence of these circumstances on the hitherto only means of indication: the biological object, including the dowser.
      Only if it is possible to achieve the same biological reactions with artificial conditions as with natural conditions, and coordinate the physical properties of the applied artificial conditions with the physical properties of the “earth’s rays” observed using a divining rod, can the relevant hypothesis be used as a basis for further purely physical development. They are said to have a biologically beneficial effect.
    3. Phenomenology.
      1. The divining rod.
        The fork of hazelwood of antiquity, cut at midnight (because of physiological conditions of greater sap content), has long since been replaced by a metal rod, made of the most diverse kinds of metals in various forms. One of the most commonly used forms is the dowsing rod shown here, made of 1½ mm thick spring steel.

        Dowsing form

        The reactions of the dowsing rod are not always the same for different dowsers about the same object (17:43). This depends on their education (28). In this context, reference should also be made to the “shadow effect” mentioned (17:36), whereby the location of an object could still be indicated long after its removal. One should pay close attention to this in experiments. Opinions are very divided about whether the rod is an indicator or an antenna. From moistening the hands with an electrolyte (17:42) to getting better contact with the metal rod, one could deduce that it serves as an electric wire. The direct cause of the movement would remain muscle contraction (17:29). In our tests, the experiments also turned out to be successful with ebonite rods. A large part of researchers see the rod only as a means to express a very small movement (by unconscious muscle contraction) through the unstable equilibrium of the tensioned rod.

      2. Biological Effects.
        It has already been noted that the literature on this subject is very extensive (9; 10; 11; 12; 14; 25; 28). The pH value (hydrogen ion concentration) of the blood would change (28). Depression, all possible chronic complaints, as well as tumour formation, are associated with terrestrial radiation. Observations with the cardiograph ( 17: 31) showed a higher peak value; it is suspected that these observations have not been accurate. In our control tests, we could therefore not demonstrate this irrefutably. See also under III C the difference in the effect of “water influence” and of “gas influence”. periodicity (12:86). One speaks of the influence on health by “material radiation”, which is detected with a pendulum method. The pendulum consists e.g. from a metal ball, suspended by a thread, held by the commuter. The commuter then draws his conclusions from the movements of the ball. The properties of commuter and dowser are possible but are often not united in one person. However, there is no data on whether or not an underground object has a harmful effect.
      3. Terrestrial radiation.
        Most dowsers assume that the harmful earth radiation is caused by, or at least bound to, subterranean flowing water veins and natural gas or fissures. Now, according to van Dam (11:37), it is difficult to assume the existence of such “water veins”. Water and gas cause opposite reactions of the rod. The biological effect is also the opposite. Water veins cause a water-buoyant effect (14:38 ) and rotting, while gas has a drying, preserving, and even mummifying (11:30; 10:162) effect. Cracks in structures are said to have been observed above places with strong radiation. This is also cited as positive in the literature. 12:64; 10:162). Much data can be drawn from the literature about the occurrence of lightning strikes (10:199; 11:10; 11:15; 12:70). an intersection of earth rays. Although the paths of earth rays are sharply defined, careful tests over a certain period show that shifts can occur (12:85; 14:12). At an altitude of 1400 meters (10:174 ) intersections with the divining rod could still be demonstrated during a balloon flight. It was also found that the various special points on the ground and at an altitude of 1400 meters were almost perpendicularly above each other. The intensity of these influences, which are measured very subjectively, shows a certain periodicity (12:86), both daily and periodically with the phenomenon of sunspots. Some researchers (9:48) believe they observe an increase in intensity with increasing distance from the Earth.
      4. The divining rod.
        The divining rod is an extremely sensitive biological instrument, but it is also very easy to disrupt. A runner can only deliver reliable work if he is completely “fit” (11:32; 11:34), weather influences also play a very important role. The sensitivity is often greater in dry weather than in humid weather, which shows that the sensitivity varies greatly. (17:43). Accurate dowsing requires a strong attitude towards the object/influence to be sought, the so-called sensitization. This can be done through concentration, but would also succeed, especially in the case of objects, by holding a piece of the object sought in one of the two hands. From the fact that sensitization plays such an important role in walking the rod, great danger of a psychological influence on the rod-runner.
    4. Hypotheses to explain the dowsing effect, and/or the biological influences.
      1. Electrostatic effects
        The potential gradient of the air layer around the earth is on average 125 V/m (11:14; 14:28). If the equipotential surface does not run completely evenly, but there are “indentations” (14:28), the rod runner reacts to this. A gradient of 50 V/m has now been found at irradiated locations (14:28). This would also indicate greater conductivity of the air at that location. According to the literature, measurements with the Wulfsche one-wire electrometer with an adjustable microscope did yield results (11:15). Greater conductivity explains the lightning strike. (10: 199; 11:10; 11:15; 12:70). It is difficult, however, to imagine these “indentations” defined so sharply perpendicularly. Measurements taken over a whole day (11:14) showed that a gradient of 250 V/m could be found in the morning, against 90 V/m in the afternoon. The field between artificial electrostatic fields of a maximum of 200 V difference had to run with unfavourable results in terms of divining action, it is important to note (13:80) that a much higher voltage is required to achieve such results. These seem to have been achieved. Biological effects could be explained by electrostatic fields. (5; 11: 11) Electro-osmotic phenomena (14:38; 12:64) can be explained by this, as well as the shielding method used for this purpose (14:38) Our experiments with a cathode ray tube, including using electrostatic charge deflection yielded negative results due to many interfering ones. Influences in the laboratory. Similarly, the experiments with the electrometer·of the Vita (1:106; 13:84)·which receives too many disturbing influences in the laboratory to be able to conclude from the observations. Outside, the slightest breath of wind caused all sorts of readings, which were not by the places indicated by the divining rod. Based on the hypothesis. of the electrostatic effects, we attached a dowsing rod hinged between two plates between which there was a voltage difference. A charge was supplied to the dowsing rod with the rhythm of the heartbeat (1.56 Hz), after which the dowsing rod indeed performed one of the typical movements, as used, among other things, in the search for earth rays. (swinging). However, when later tests showed that a divining rod can also work very accurately with a complete ebonite rod, our test turned out to be worthless.
      2. Electromagnetic Effects.
        • Radiation
          Low-frequency waves are not eligible, as the detection is simple and has yielded nothing. Dobler (1:76) measured a wavelength of 0.3 mm to 10 cm with a grating device. Wüst and Wimmer (15:412) did not come to 0.3 mm but to a range of 1 – 70 cm. The very short wavelength electromagnetic radiation (1) occurring in chemical processes is used by Boyd and Abrams for diagnosis; the divining rod could react to these radiations. The theory of cosmic rays is treated separately.
        • Fields
          Earth currents occur to a large extent in the earth’s crust, inhomogeneities in the current field cause inhomogeneous fields above the earth’s surface. To what extent those inhomogeneities in the field coincide with “jobs” found by dowsers has not yet been determined. Here too, however, the sharp boundary of the orbits cannot be reconciled with the electromagnetic properties. The earth’s currents also show variations simultaneously with the occurrence of sunspots (12:86), by the earth’s radiation (III C).
      3. Magnetic Effects.
        Many researchers mistake the phenomenon of terrestrial radiation for a magnetic effect (1; 8; 17). Besides local variations, the magnetic field also shows variations and intensity differences due to sunspots. If we now assume that there are strips in the earth’s crust with a different permeability than the immediate surroundings, then the field lines will be more or less crowded together, which would result in a difference in the slope of the different field lines. However, this is not at all by the perpendicular course of the disturbance, since the inclination is practically nowhere 90°. The appropriate instrument for this is the inclinometer. Due to the very small forces, however, the mechanical factors of the vertically hanging compass needle, such as bearings and balancing, are so great that many measurements are required (27:464), which must be averaged to obtain a somewhat reliable measurement. to get. In our construction, the friction of the mercury bearing was still too great to be able to carry out measurements. To measure the small local intensity differences (1:419), Mulders’ apparatus (7) could be used. According to the manufacturer, however, the mechanical difficulties have not yet been completely solved. That magnetic variation can bring about a dowsing effect is what Tromp (17) wanted to demonstrate. Nothing could be found in the literature about the biological effect of a change in the intensity or direction of the magnetic field.
      4. Cosmic Radiation.
        If we assume the observational fact of the virtually fixed location of the earth ray paths, and thus “earthboundness”, as correct, then a primary effect of the cosmic rays is no longer taken into account. One then still thinks of reflected or secondary rays (25) Many investigations with Geiger – Müller counters together yielded a negative result (13:85) All kinds of different values were found in measurements (13), but these did not correspond to trajectories indicated by dowsers.
      5. Air-electric effects.
        Variations in the potential gradient of the air are indeed common, but they are not bound to the earth as terrestrial rays would be. However, the biological effects achieved with artificial air-electrical variations are consistent with those of terrestrial radiation. The biological effect of weather changes (17:43) (see also III D) also corresponds to the air-electric changes that occur.
      6. Radio-active influence.
        Here the theories run into the large absorption of the various media so that the effects at high altitudes are inexplicable. According to Kohlrausch (9:48), all fissures in the earth’s crust, as well as boundary layers, have a strong emanating effect. However, this does not explain the perpendicular effect. The phenomenon of the shadow effect (17:36; III A) could be related to this.
      7. Material-emission.
        The French in particular work in this field (2; 15). The curious thing is that the various measurements of this radiation which give results often fall under different physical groups so a new theory must first be built into which these measurements fit logically. Wüst and Wimmer (15:461) call this new radiation “magnetoid”.
      8. Para-psychologic.
        This group, to which the dowsing-rod issue belonged until recently, has been getting smaller lately. For our purposes, this group provides neither physical nor biological targets.
    5. Conclusions.
      The number of observations of the divining rod’s behaviour in more special circumstances needs to be expanded. This refers to observations at higher altitudes, greater depths, and above deep and shallow waters. The perpendicular boundary of the earth’s rays must be firmly established, as this is the condition on which almost all hypotheses fail. side effects and fatigue symptoms. If physical influence can cause or imitate the dowsing-rod effect, then the biological effect of the applied physical influence should also be investigated to be able to make a distinction between what is called material radiation (III E; IV G) and terrestrial radiation.
Literature list
  1. C. Maby; T.B. Franklin (1939) The Physics of the Divining Rod.
  2. Martin-Laval (1935) Le Rayonnement de la Matière.
  3. J.A. Reboul (1939) Contribution à l’étude d’un Rayonnement ionisant émis par les métaux ordinaires (Annales de Physique, Paris 11 Série; Tome 11; 1939; 353-456)
  4. D. Stranathan (1946) The Particles of Modern Physics
  5. L. van Vierssen Trip (1933) Electrostatische invloeden op gezwelgroei. (Ned. Tijdschr. v. Geneesk, 77. I. 8 25/2 ’33 blz. 865-874)
  6. Admiralty Research Lab. (1947) The electric field induced in a channel of moving water. (Teddington, Middlesex; A.R.L./R.2/102.22/w)
  7. E. Mulders (1942) Ein Apparat zur Messung sehr kleiner ortlicher Variationen eines Magneetfeldes.
  8. Wendler (1936) Zur Fraga der objektiven Wünschelrutenkontrolle mit magnetometrischen Apparaten.
  9. C. Simonis (1933) Erdstrahlen, Rutengängerei und Krankheit.
  10. von Pohl (1932) Erdstrahlen als Krankheitserreger.
  11. van Dam (1938) Aardstralen?
  12. H. Ktritzinger (1933) Erdstrahlen, Reizstreifen und Wünschelrute.
  13. Stechhöfer (1936) Erdstrahlungsmessungen mit dem Geiger-Mül1er-Zählrohr und elektrische Feldstärkemessungen im Gelände. (Zeitsehrift für Geophysik; jaarg. 12; 1936; blz. 68-86)
  14. Jenny (1947) Experimental-biologische·Untersuchungen zum Erdstrahlenproblem. (Gesundheit und Wohlfahrt; Zürich. Heft 1; Januari 1947)
  15. Wüst und J. Wimmer (1934) Ueber neuartige Schwingungen der Wellenlänge 1 – 70 cm. In der Umgebung anorganischer und organischer Substanzen sowie biologischer Objekte. (Roux’s Archiv. für Entwicklungsmechanik der Organismen; Band 131, 1934; blz. 389-482)
  16. C. Holmes (1937) A terrestrial origin for cosmic rays. (Journal of the Franklin Institute. Vol. 223; 1937; pp 495-500)
  17. W. Tromp (1947) Eerste mededeling betreffende experimenten aangaande de·invloed van variaties in de sterkte van magnetische velden (in het bijzonder van het aardmagnetisch veld) op spiercontracties. _(tijdschrift voor Parapsychologie, 15e jaargang, no. 1 Jan. 1947; blz. 29-56)
  18. Haalck (1936) Ueber eine neue physikalische Erklärung der Ursache des Erd- und Sonnenmagnetismus und des luftelektrischen Vertikalstromes. (Zeitschr. für Geophysik; jaarg. 12, 1936;·blz. 112-123)
  19. Kähler (1937) Biologische Wirkungen der Luftelektrizität und der künstlichen Ionisierung. (Die Naturwissenschaften 1937, blz 92-96; Heft 6; 5/2 ’37; blz 110-112; Heft 7; 12/2 ’37)
  20. Behme (1914) Die Wunschelrute ( 5 delen)
  21. Aligner (1929) Wesen und Wirken der Wüschelrute
  22. Mager (1926) Les sourciers et leurs procédés.
  23. Klinckoström; Maltzahn (1931) Handbuch der Wünschelrute; Geschichte; Wissenschaft; Anwendung.
  24. Failla (1936) Ionization and its bearing on the biological effects of radiation. (Biological Effects of Radiation [Dugger] Vol. I 1936 pp. 87-122)
  25. Lakhovsky (1930) Das Geheimnis des Lebens.
  26. H. Gish (1936) The natural Electric currents in the earth. (The Scientific Monthly Vol. XLIII Juli-Dec 1936; blz 47-57
  27. Van Nostrand (1947) Dip Needle (Scientific Encyclopedia; 1947; pp 464)
  28. G. Mieremet (1940) Aardstralen, Wichelroede en onze Gezondheid