On August 12, 1971, the San Diego Union printed an obituary: “Dr. Royal R. Rife, 83, an optics engineer who invented a high-power microscope, was buried yesterday at Mt. Hope Cemetery. Rife had worked on his optical inventions since coming to San Diego from Nebraska in 1906. His home was at 3555 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa. He left no survivors.”
There was more to his story than that. A lot more, some say. One of them, Christopher Bird, claims that Rife took science “into the micro-beyond.”
In the summer of 1934, Dr. Milbank Johnson set up a clinic at the Scripps Ranch, north of San Diego. Johnson, Dr. Arthur Kendall, and Rife would test a non-invasive cure on 16 terminal cancer patients.
Rife, who preferred to be called “Roy,” had developed a “Universal Microscope.” It had 5682 parts and could magnify objects at least 17,000 times normal size (while most microscopes achieve only 2000 or 2500). Also unheard of: Rife said he could watch a living microorganism change shape. But scientists believed — and most do still — that microorganisms have a single form, and that microscopes only work with dead specimens.
“This is a new kind of magnifier,” the Los Angeles Times wrote in 1931, “and the laws governing microscopes may not apply to it.”
Even more unheard of: 14 lenses and prisms of block crystal quartz could illumine a virus and determine its true color. “Just like the colors are tuned on television sets,” said an associate, years later. Each virus has a specific color. Typhus, said Rife, was turquoise-blue.
Once he had identified the color signature, Rife said he could beam radiations of that frequency onto the organism and “devitalize” it. The process resembled the way a focused musical tone can shatter a wine glass. He said the organism would “wiggle,” then explode.
Rife projected the frequencies through a tube filled with helium. He claimed that the “Beam Ray” could destroy specific microorganisms and not harm others.
A relentless experimentalist, Rife often sat transfixed for long periods, strapped, literally, to his seat. “I’ve seen Roy in that doggone seat without moving,” a friend wrote, “watching the changes in the frequency, watching when the virus in the slide would be destroyed. Twenty-four hours meant nothing to him.” Some say even 48, and he drank only water all that time. One result: chronic eyestrain.
In 1932, using a medium Kendall had devised to grow cancer tissues, Rife made 20,000 attempts to isolate a virus causing cancer. He found it, he said, and called the purplish-red microbe a “BX Virus.”
By 1933, Rife claimed he’d discovered the frequencies for typhus, polio, spinal meningitis, and herpes. But he focused on cancer. And in 1934, after he had inoculated over 400 rats with BX and then devitalized their tumors with the Beam Ray, Rife, Johnson, and Kendall turned their sights on 16 cancer patients at Scripps Ranch.
Every third day, each patient sat a few feet from the ray machine for three minutes. Spacing of the treatments “devitalized” the cancer one tissue-layer at a time. It also allowed the body to heal and rid itself of toxins.
One of the patients, Tom Knight, had a large tumor on his cheek. That the darkened lump was visible allowed the researchers to measure how the ray performed from start to finish. In 1935, Johnson sent a letter to two San Diego doctors introducing “Mr. Thomas Knight. He was the one who had the carcinoma over the malar bone on his left cheek that we treated at the La Jolla clinic last year.” Knight’s skin looked flawless.
In 1946, Dr. James Couche recalled a patient at the clinic who looked like a “bag of bones.” Rife told Couche to feel the man’s stomach. “It was just a cavity,” and “absolutely solid. And I thought to myself, well, nothing can be done for that.”
After two months of treatment, Couche claims, the man recovered completely. The next day, against the doctors’ warnings, the man drove to his farm in El Centro to see about a sick cow. “He was up all night with it. The next day he drove back without any rest whatever — so you can imagine how he had recovered,” wrote Couche. “I finally bought one of those frequency instruments and established my office.”
Within three months, 14 of the 16 cancer patients had recovered. The other 2 had clean bills of health within the next six weeks.
Johnson had funded the clinic to observe Rife’s methods firsthand. In the fall of 1934, convinced by the treatments, Johnson established the Special Medical Research Committee at the University of Southern California. Its purpose: supervise the Rife research and eventually announce it. The group, writes Daniel Haley, was composed of “cautious” medical professionals, who “balked at early release of the clinic’s amazing results, preferring instead to gather more data.”
Rife wanted to keep the findings as quiet as possible. By 1934, he knew he needed much more testing before going public.
He told his cohorts never to say “cure” when talking about the research. “Devitalize” was vague enough to suggest something positive. Offers for his instruments began flowing in, but he refused. “When money comes through the door,” he said, “science flies out the window.”
Rife was an inveterate tinkerer. In 1913, the year he received an honorary PhD from Heidelberg University, he built a plane. He devised a camera that could take 3D pictures, invented new kinds of shotguns and fishing rods, found ways to speed up a race car. He was also an accomplished musician: French horn (for the symphony), guitar, cello, and mandolin. In 1912, he married Mamie Quin, daughter of Ah Quin, legendary mayor of San Diego’s Chinatown. In later life he became a member of the Baha’i Faith.
Writes Ben Cullen: “In my estimation, Roy was one of the most gentle, genteel, self-effacing, moral men I ever met. Not once [in 30 years] did I ever hear him say one word out of place.”