Holleman's Research

Experimental Conditions

The organism chosen by Holleman was a small, single celled green alga called Chlorella. This enabled a very large number of organisms to be easily grown and complete their full life cycle under homogeneous conditions. Analytical quality chemicals dissolved in double distilled water supplied the nutrients. A household tungsten bulb provided the necessary light. The air supply was of bottled carbon dioxide enriched air. The cultures were contained in inert, quartz glass covered dishes. Homogeneous conditions were provided by thermostatically controlled waterbath.

Cumulative Method

Six culture dishes containing nutrient solution were inoculated with algal culture. After two weeks and maximum growth the dishes were ashed at 500 degrees centigrade, leaving just their mineral remains. One of these was removed for chemical analysis. The remaining dishes had their ash contents redissolved to make up new nutrient solution for the next addition of inoculation culture. Again, after another two weeks growth and subsequent ashing, a second dish was removed for analysis. The redissolved ashes were ready for a third growth cycle... and so on till the sixth and final dish was ashed and analyzed.

By feeding each successive generation the mineral remains of their predecessors, any chemical element transmutations that may have taken place will have accumulated and be easier to record.


The control cultures were treated in exactly the same way as the experimental ones except that after inoculation they were immediately ashed.

Chemical Analysis

Two independent methods were used to measure the chemical element potassium; the kalignost titrimetric method, and flame photometry. Sodium was analyzed by flame photometry. Holleman reduced the magnesium concentration in the nutrient solution by 90% because of its crucial role in photosynthesis. High ash polyphosphate concentrations however, meant that magnesium was not able to be accurately determined. Sodium, known to take little or no part in algal physiology, was used as a control.


The two chemical analysis methods for potassium were in total agreement. The sodium analyses for both experiment and controls were also in agreement. The experimental results for potassium differed greatly from their equivalent controls. The controls showed a range of 4%. The experimental cultures showed a steady decrease in concentration till the fourth culture with a statistically significant reduction of 17% from its original concentration. To confuse matters, the potassium concentration subsequently increased again, returning to its original value by the end of the sixth growth cycle.

Possible Sources of Error

Holleman identified many minor sources of error, but none of them were able to account for both the disappearance and subsequent reappearance of the potassium. However, with subsequent improvements in experimental method and procedure, these results were not reproduced. Exactly 200 years after Lavoisier's axiomatic statement, Holleman was forced to end his research. His final wishes were for his work to be continued.

Research Considerations

If biological transmutations of chemical elements were easy to observe, further research would be unnecessary. Such phenomena would by now have long been part of mainstream science.

Conventional science has built up a convincing body of theory backed up by a wide range of experimental evidence that such phenomena are to all intents and purposes totally impossible. Biological transmutation research, since the mid-19th century has been delegated to the realms of fringe science. Some of the most quoted authors on this subject included Herzeele and Steiner, from whom Holleman gained his inspiration, and later, Hauschka and Kervran.

After many years of personal research and a critical appraisal of the work of others, Holleman was painfully aware of the limitations of his own work and that of others before him. The choice to continue is, however, no longer his, but ours.

The strange world of quantum mechanics has been demonstrated by David Bohm to need a different paradigm of thinking. Henri Bortoft realized that the holistic principles of Goethean science, originally developed for an understanding of living organisms, was such an important means towards the understanding of these invisible realms. Holleman's aim was to build bridges between the materialistic, inorganic world conception with which conventional science is so familiar, and the living, dynamic world as experienced from within a Goethean approach.