Shattering Cancer Cells With Music

Plasma sphere. When the gas is electrified, it becomes plasma. Dr. Holland uses a plasma antenna in his set-up.

Shattering cancer cells with music? Well, not quite. But one researcher hopes to find a musical combination of frequencies to treat cancer -- using a peculiar, blue light as his instrument.

Anthony Holland, Associate Professor, Director of Music Technology at Skidmore College, knows a thing or two about sound waves, music, and frequencies. He’s a composer who has conducted at Carnegie Hall. And his scientific work has spurred interest in using lower-energy, less destructive waves to target cancer cells.

Can Frequencies Combine to Shatter Cancer?

Holland’s interest in music inspired him to work on a concept that has been around for some time. Most people are familiar with the notion of a person’s voice being used to shatter a crystal glass. Well, Dr. Holland’s quest is related. In music, the frequency of a wave relates to whether a sound is high pitch or low pitch. Holland set out to see if the right combination of frequencies, or “chords,” if you will, might be used to selectively shatter cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed.

How Might this Work?

Think of a wave pool at a water park. Picture the cancer cells as evil robots standing in the water alongside the people. The wave generator starts, creating waves of energy that travel through the water. Now imagine different wave generators, each pushing out more waves at the same time. If the waves were to combine to have just the right destructive effect, you might be able knock down and damage only the robots, while the people would simply bob up and down with the waves.

The Research Device

Professor Holland needed a device to generate his waves. He describes using a device patented by a physician named James Bare from Albuquerque, NM, to generate and test different frequencies. He also notes being able to control the device to regulate the frequencies. He refers to the device as a Rife-Bare device.

The Rife Machine Controversy

An American inventor named Royal Rife first developed a machine in the 1920s that was designed to shatter microbes, aiming to cure various diseases in this way. Further complicating matters, so-called Rife machines are marketed online today as therapies for various maladies, including cancer and Lyme disease. reports that there is no evidence such machines kill cancer cells, while shocks and burns have been reported among consumers.

Dr. Holland notes, “I think it's fair to say that the legend of Royal Rife certainly inspired both Dr. James Bare's work and my own, but I think the devices that Dr. Bare invented are technically significantly different and unique.”

Holland’s Device Uses a Plasma Antenna

Dr. Holland describes using a set-up that is known to scientists and engineers as a plasma antenna. When electric energy is added to a hollow tube containing only a small amount of helium gas, the helium lights up, like a neon light, to become plasma. Having unique behavior, plasma is sometimes considered the 4th state of matter -- in addition to solid, liquid and gas.

Unlike a common metal antenna, a plasma antenna can be turned on and off very quickly.

The transmission of energy in pulses – on, off, on, off, on, off – is a desirable characteristic, according to Holland, since without the ability to pulse, you run the risk of generating heat that destroys all cells, not just the cancer cells.

Encouraging Results

Starting with microbes, Dr. Holland says he’s tested hundreds if not thousands of frequencies. In one experiment, he noted that if he used two different frequencies -- one 11x higher than the first -- it shattered the microbes.

Based on these results, he was invited to conduct experiments on cancer cells in the laboratories of the Division of Surgical Research at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA.

As seen in a TEDx Talks session published December 22, 2013, Dr. Holland shows video clips featuring the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells and leukemia cells in the laboratory.

Holland reports that an average of 25 to 42 percent of the leukemia cells were killed with this technology alone, and the growth rate of the leukemia cells was slowed by as much as sixty-five percent.

“Cancer appears to be vulnerable between the frequencies of 100,000 and 300,000 Hz,” says Holland. “Our current efforts are focused on finding those very specific frequency bands for cancer cells in vitro. The next step would be to work with animals and attempt to destroy the cancer cells or slow their growth inside mice, etc.”

"Our current cancer research is being carried on by our company, Novobiotronics Inc., and if people would like more information, they can go to:" Holland's group also has a registration page to sign up for email updates.

Bottom Line

Since this is not an FDA-approved therapy, or even an established alternative therapy as of yet, it goes without saying that much more research would be needed to before tangible benefits for patients might be expected. Safety and efficacy in people with cancer would need to be demonstrated.

Still, this intriguing work by Holland and others can lead a person to marvel and hope – to ponder the possibility of a future in which people might be treated for cancer through a painless experience under beautiful, blue plasma lights.


Dr. Holland, Anthony. Personal communication. August 16, 2015.

TEDx Talks. Shattering Cancer with Resonant Frequencies: Anthony Holland at TEDx Skidmore College. Accessed August 2015.

Cancer Research UK. Accessed August 2015.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Electromagnetic Spectrum. Accessed August 2015.

About the Author:

Anthony Chiozza is a graduate of the University of Memphis and has a BS in Integrative Studies focusing on the sciences. He is a retired science teacher from Mansfield Independent School District in Texas and a freelance journalist.

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