Review: First Pulse by Dr. Merrill Garnett

Brian Thomas Carroll
Architectural Researcher
The Architecture of Electricity

The Pulse of Life: Electrogenetics

Today I finished the book First Pulse, A Personal Journey in Cancer Research by Dr. Merrill Garnett [1], kindly sent to me from Joy Garnett, whose paintings inhabit the pages of the book, bringing the abstract microscopic world of cell research into visibility.

My initial encounter with the work was online their project's website. [2] There, for the first time, I read excerpts and saw the paintings of First Pulse [3] and became intrigued by the role of electricity in Dr. Garnett's cancer research.

I've known for a long enough time that electricity has played a transformative role in medicine, with everything from the x-ray machine to the cat-scan, from labs equipped with electrical apparatus to electrical mass manufacturing of medicines, from electrical pacemakers to surgical tools.

My memory recounts a recent visit to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I experienced the newly renovated Bakken, [4] `a library and museum of electricity in life.' As their website states, the Bakken was founded by Earl Bakken who invented the first transistorized cardiac pacemaker with Medtronic, Inc.

The museum's and library's aim is electrical research, but also has a specific focus of the role of electricity in medicine, guided by its founder's vision. i cannot help but imagine Dr. Garnett's work would find support from this innovative institution.

That said, I must name my preconceptions of First Pulse, in what may be due to my own issues of mortality. Upon receiving the book, I immediately looked at every of the book's numerous paintings by Joy Garnett. They are images at once ghostly and haunting, and beautiful and sublime, of various stages of cell growth and decay, in vibrant yet subdued colors, as if viewed through a microscope.

This visualization of various stages of cancerous growth and subsequent images of treatment in painted form has the quality of a Francis Bacon painting. [5] The horror of Bacon's Study of Pope Innocent X or Figure with Meat, [6] are somehow aesthetisized within the scraping lines of paint, which at once blur and etherealize the subject. These same streaking lines are present in Joy Garnett's paintings, and my first reaction was an association of cancer with this Baconian visualization of horror. But, the paintings somehow made the disturbing mystery of cancer into something tangible, aesthetic, and even neutral. Somehow, the beautiful painted light which visualizes scientific exploration and understanding portrays that journey itself as an artistic venture.

The paintings illuminate the cancerous cell, and bring the science of an esoteric and highly specialized field of research into a public domain, where it should be.

I would not have thought this to be true, but after reading the words of Dr. Garnett alongside the painted images of his daughter, I am left with a sense of awe at what First Pulse could represent- a new model of treating cancerous cells, based on electrical knowledge.

Dr. Garnett took a different path for his research and experimentation. His dedication to understanding cancer centered around a belief that the model of killing off cancerous cells with toxic treatment was one model, and that there could be another model, based on the metabolism of energy in a cell. Instead of destroying the cell, the treatment could restore the vitality of the cancerous cell. [7] Dr. Garnett's search was on for finding such a treatment...

Only another electrochemical scientist could say what kind of personal journey it would be to have created and tested 30,000 chemical compounds in this search. But somehow, the quest for truth allows for such determination and belief. And it was the belief about this new 'electrogenetic' model of medicine which would ultimately prove rewarding.

Dr. Garnett knew intuitively that there was a vital "pulse" in the cell, which was absent when the cell died away. to explore this dimension was to explore the question of life itself: that is, what makes something alive? In the technical language of medicine, the conclusion centered around the concept of electron transfer, which is another specialized name for general electrical phenomenon that exists in between the microcosm and macrocosm of the universe.

To me this all sounded oddly familiar, as I myself am an electrical researcher, who has a theory of the electrical evolution of the universe. [8] But the mystery, to me, has always blurred from the point of cellular evolution up to that of human beings. It is easy to realize the significance of electricity in relation to our electrical senses, nervous system, brain, and consciousness, but less so on the microscopic scale, when analyzing the effects of single electrons upon the macrocosm of the human body- but this is exactly what the field of electro- chemistry and Dr. Garnett in particular have accomplished.

In fact, this electronic interaction is the First Pulse that Dr. Garnett and myself believe constitutes life. That is, along with the structural information in a chain of molecules, say, making up DNA, is a flow of energy which keeps the cell, and thus the body, healthy. This pulse is a vibration, the result of a frequency of shaking molecules, a literal 'music of the spheres' to be heard by those listening to its signal. [9]

What is amazing is that, while Dr. Garnett has an understanding of this microscopic level, he goes on to compare the electrical nature at the cellular level with that of the macroscopic level of the electrical infrastructure, with a good understanding of both Edison's and Tesla's contributions to electrical science and technology, and in turn relates their electrical theories of alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) to his work with this vital spark of the energetic electron. [10] It is this universality of electrical knowledge which is so inspiring.

Ultimately, this electronic First Pulse is metabolic: the cell's food is electrical which in turn the DNA utilizes to create an electrical field. [11] Filling in a piece of the mysterious puzzle of electrical evolution, Dr. Garnett states: "The schematic is complete. The cell has its first pulse, which makes an active energy exchange between the internal and external... And this first pulse resonates with many other cells, and the packed cells carry on their pulsations with the environment. They resonate with each other and set each other off by inductive influence so that their pulses increase. And the tissue pulses appear, and the heart beats and the brain discharges and the muscles evolve. The organelles modulate and use this in contractile structures, converting the pulse to organic phosphates and other high-energy bonds. But the cell pulse is first and provides the raw electrical energy for all the physiologic pulses." [12]

Thus, the cosmologists believe that the universe evolved out of electromagnetic radiation and the birth of electrically charged particles, creating matter in the void. Now, there is an electrical theory of life, constituted on the knowledge of electricity at the molecular level up to the human being. It is an important accomplishment for this field of electrical research, and specifically so for the medical field.

This is because Dr. Garnett's research work, grounded in the pragmatics of trial and error scientific (and artistic) experimentation, led to a treatment called the palladium complex (LAPd), based on this new electrogenetic understanding of cancer, restoring the cells energy instead of killing the cancerous cells off, as in traditional chemotherapy treatment. This unique approach to cancer treatment was the result of an investigation into corrosion engineering and the electrical properties of metals. in the end, Dr. Garnett's hard work and vision have produced a new model for cancer research, and the LAPd complex is in the testing stage, after having restored mice from full-blown cancer to full health. [13]

In all, the work of Dr. Garnett, and the visualization of this miraculous revitalization of a cell's energy flow via the LAPd complex by his daughter Joy Garnett is a victory for the fields of both the science and art of living. My congratulations go to them in their vital and public journey.


[1] First Pulse, A Personal Journey in Cancer Research
Dr. Merrill Garnett, Paintings by Joy Garnett, Edited
by Bill Jones, First Pulse Projects, New York, NY c.1998

[2] First Pulse Projects website:

[3] Excerpts of the book First Pulse:

[4] The Bakken Museum

[5] The Francis Bacon Image Archive:

[6] Francis Bacon's Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X

[7] I am limited in my knowledge of cells, so my statements may not be wholly accurate from a technical point of view. But Dr. Garnett wrote close enough to a layperson's language that I am taking the liberty to try to reiterate that which I think I have learned from reading the book.

[8] The Story of the Electrical Assemblage (1998)

[9] Guy Murchie's books, Music of the Spheres, and The Seven Mysteries of Life, are both intriguing and educational science books for the layperson which explains a spectrum of electrical phenomenon.

[10] "Energy is the shake in things. It is rapidly converted from molecular shake and electron shake to a very localized hum in a bond between two chemicals, then to heat or the emission of light from the shaking of electrons by the voltage. Everything is convertible, and they're all forms of energy. The cell, the tissue, the organ, the house, and the utility company agree that electrons are the best way to manage energy and convert it to all uses, from biological systems to appliances that make light, mechanical, sound, or heat energy." p. 85

[11] First Pulse, pp.66-67. "It seems that organisms have learned to incorporate the environmental challenges into their systems and into their cycles. It's as if the environment becomes part of us. But the environment comes to us as stress. We can eat the environment as the environment eats us. but we are transfigured in the process. Electricity was first. It was the first meal. the first breakfast was electrons." p. 63

[12] ibid. p.67

[13] The humanism of Dr. Garnett is demonstrated in his policy of letting his laboratory mice free after they have lived through having cancerous tumors after being administered the LAPd complex.

Published on the Electricity-List 06/2000