Royal R.Rife

Updated Friday 30 January 1998
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A Brief History of The Universal Microscope

Royal Raymond Rife was the inventor of the Universal Microscope which he presented to the world in 1933. Besides being the most powerful optical microscope ever made up to that time, it was also the most versatile. The Universal used all types of illumination: polarised, monochromatic or white light, dark field, slit ultra and infra-red. It could be used for all manner of microscopical work, including petrological work or for crystallography and photomicrography. According to a report submitted to the Journal of the Franklin Institute it had a magnification of 60,000x, and a resolution of 31,000x. The ocular of this instrument was binocular, but it also had a detachable segment lower in the body for monocular observation at 1800x (x=power) magnification.

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The Number 3, Rife Prismatic, or Universal Microscope

One of the most attractive features of this microscope is that, in contrast to the Electron Microscope, the Universal Microscope does not kill the specimens under observation and affords observation of natural living specimens in all circumstances, meaning it does not rely on fixing or staining to render visibility or definition.

Rife achieved this by using various modes of lighting and refraction to bring into visibility submicron sized particles or forms in their natural colors. According to John Crane, an associate of Rife's in from the 1950s until Rife's death, Rife first turned to this technique of using light to stain the subjects because he realised that the molecules of the chemical stains were too large to enter into the structures he sought to visualise. Furthermore, the typical stains used in microscopy are sometimes lethal to the specimens and he wished to see all things in their live state.

Cross-section of Single tetanus Spore
Disected with Rife's Micromanipulator
25,000x on 35 mm film--Enlarged 227,000x
(The New Microscopes, Seidel and Winter, 1944)

One factor enabling these natural images was Rife's use of a device called a Risley counter-rotating prism. This consists of two circular, wedge shaped prisms, mounted face to face and set in a geared-bezel, and so geared as to turn each prism through 360 degrees in opposite directions by means of an extended handle. Rife built a special mount under the stage to accommodate these instruments, and through which he directed a powerful monochromatic beam from his patented lamp. (Patent number: ____________). At various declinations of the refracted and polarised ray normally invisible bodies would become visible in a color peculiar to their structure or chemical make-up. This may not be an entirely acurate discription of what was going on in the Rife microscopes. We lack any rigorous discription of the device by Rife or anyone else, and this information comes from Crane and derived from extant microscopic methods.

Rife is said to have built 5 or 6 different models and multiple copies of each are also said to exist; furthermore according to Crane in the process of perfecting any of these, he built dozens of preliminary models, but canabalized each one to build the finished product. Thus each of the 5 microscopes represent tools for different purposes, and not just steps towards the so-called universal. The term "universal microscope" was not invented by Rife. Leitz was building "universal microscopes" in the 30s, and supposedly Rife worked there and probably got the term from Leitz.

All optical elements in this microscope were made of block quartz, which permits the passage of ultraviolet rays.

By this means Rife revealed that compounds, proteins, sugars, fats, virus and bacterium and have a natural range of refraction to various light impingements. This suggested that organisms could be classified--if not specified--by their index of refraction in the Risley prism under the Universal Microscope.

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Rife Micrograph of Bacillus Typhosus (Typhoid)
Magnification: 23,000X on 35 mm film--Enlarged 300,000X.
(The New Microscopes, Seidel and Winter, 1944)
Rife began research work on tuberculosis circa 1920. In a short time, it became apparent to Rife there was something else involved in this disease below the level of the bacterium. This spurred his work in developing his "virus" microscopes, of which two preceded the Universal, which is sometimes called the number 3 Rife microscope. Rife believed he had isolated and photographed the tuberculosis "virus". Eventually, Rife also succeeded in isolating an organism specific to cancer. He found it gave off a distinctive purple-red emanation. He named this entity bacillus X, or BX and claimed to have verified it's existance in every instance of carcinoma he examined. At that time it was not known that virus were simply protein capsules containing either RNA or DNA. What Rife observed moved, or were animated and motile, and not simply moving about under the action of thermal agitation (Brownian motion). He said these particles became imobile or quiescent and underwent agglutination (clumping) after exposure to the radio frequencies of his device. Thus these BX could not have been virus.

Rife Standing next to his No.1 Prismatic-Virus
Microscope, Showing Camera, for Still and Motion
Micrography. (Courtesy of

With the assistance of Dr. Arthur I. Kendall, using a special medium Kendall had developed for culturing these unknowns, they succeeded in culturing the BX. They had little success at first until Rife accidently left a tube in the glow of an ionzing lamp. He noticed the tube had clouded, indicating activity. Then they performed the culture in a partial vacuum, or anaerobic environment and stimulated them with the ionizing light.

Rife extracted the BX from an "unulcerated, human breast mass". He filtered, cultured and recultured these over 10 times over a two hundred and forty hour period. They injected the last generation culture into the breast region of a live rat. The rat would inevitably develop a tumour. Rife would then remove the tumour, extract the BX, and repeat the process. He did this over four hundred times removed from the original sample, proving categorically that BX factor induced cancerous tumours in every instance. [If I may editorialize: this does not provide conclusive evidence that this entity is the cause of cancer. It suggests that it is a very effective carcinogen, and perhaps a common entity in the animal host (like the mites that live at the roots of your eyelashes) that can pleomorph under an altered biochemistry.]

The Rife Ray Treatment

Rife's next step was to see if electro-magnetic radiation would be effective in destroying these forms. He undoubtedly was inspired towards this research by the well known research around this time by Dr. Albert Abrams, who used a damped high frequency spike to successfully treat disease. Rife had one of Dr. Abrams dead-beat oscillators which he showed would destroy the tuberculosis and typhoid bacilli. Rife also designed and had constructed an oscillator which was capable of generating a wide spectrum of individual frequencies, because the Abrams oscillator by contrast generated only one specific frequency, with small variances only. By a painstaking process of examining the BX in culture while stepping through a wide array of frequencies, Rife found one which "devitalized" it. Rife would often sit for 48 hours before the microscope isolating a specific frequency which he called the Mortal Oscillatory Rate, or MOR for many disease organisms.

In some cases these germs or bacilli would literally shatter or explode under the influence of his frequency instrument. In other cases, the forms would remain unchanged in appearance, but would no longer be motile, and would not produce disease. Thus he used the term "devitalized" rather than "destroyed" in these instances. Recent work has shown many of these ultra-microscopic forms to be extremely rigid and resistant to deformation.

Rife isolated the organisms and found an MOR for tuberculosis, e.coli, tetanus, chickenpox, herpes type virus, pin worms, streptothrix (fungi), rabies and altogether over a forty year period, the MOR for about 600 different forms of bacterial and viral forms. The primary frequencies used ranged from the low audio up as high as the limit of short-wave, with several frequencies being combined, and acting both as a carrier as well as a treatment frequency. Rife over-modulated these so as to produce a pulsed wave-form which acted on the organisms in the same way as a tone can shatter a glass when vibrated at the glass' resonant frequency. Rife and his associates found that the human cell was hundreds of times more resilient than the cell walls of disease organisms, and there was never any observed ill effect from immersion in any of these waves.

Rife's proofs of Pleomorphism

Rife stated they had narrowed the actual distinct number of groups of pathogenic bacteria to 10. In his 1953 book, Rife commented on this:
"We have classified the entire category of pathogenic bacteria into 10 individual groups. Any organism within its group can be readily changed to any other organism within the ten groups depending upon the media with which it is fed and grown. For example, with a pure culture of bacillus coli, by altering the media as little as two parts per million by volume, we can change that micro-organism in 36 hours to a bacillus typhosis showing every known laboratory test even to the Widal reaction. Further controlled alterations of the media will end up with the virus of poliomyelitis or tuberculosis or cancer as desired, and then, if you please, alter the media again and change the micro-organism back to bacillus coli."(1)

It can be seen that Rife did not understand virology.

Rife contended certain conclusions escaped earlier researchers simply because they lacked the evidence of their eyes in seeing these forms develop from a single entity: pleomorphism. They require a power of magnification and resolution beyond the typical 2,000 power instrument.

Rife's work suggested that the wide array of disease bacterium were merely differentiation phases in a life-cyle of an as of yet undetermined entity. Researcher Gaston Naessens has verified many of Rife's findings, and has delineated 16 phases of change of what Rife called the premodal identity or body, which Naessens calls "somatids". Despite Rife's proofs of so-called pleomorphism, and the work of others along that line today it remains a controversial issue.

Rife cured all the rats in which the BX induced cancer using the "beam". (He claimed another form, which he named bacillus Y or BY was found in every instance of sarcoma). It is claimed that Rife's ray tube was effective against human cancer through a clinical study done under the auspices of the University of Southern California. However USC disputes this, saying no records exist that any such study ever took place. Nevertheless, according to John Crane, a special Medical Research Committee had been committed to looking into the work of Rife in 1934. A Dr. Milbank Johnson is said to have supervised the committee. They found 16 terminally ill people and brought them down to a ranch which had been owned by a member of the Scripps family, of the Scripps Oceanographic Institute fame. Rife described the treatment in 1934:

"With the frequency instrument treatment, no tissue is destroyed, no pain is felt, no noise is audible, and no sensation is noticed. A tube lights up and 3 minutes later the treatment is completed. The virus or bacteria is destroyed and the body then recovers itself naturally from the toxic effect of the virus or bacteria. Several diseases may be treated simultaneously.

"The first clinical work on cancer was completed under the supervision of Milbank Johnson, M.D. which was set up under a Special Research Committee of the University of Southern California. 16 cases were treated at the clinic for many types of malignancy. After 3 months, 14 of these so-called helpless cases were signed off as clinically cured by the staff of five medical doctors and Dr. Alvin G. Foord, M.D. Pathologist for the group. (Editor's Note: a few months after the conclusion of the clinic, the other two recovered completely) The treatments consisted of 3 minutes duration using the frequency instrument which was set on the mortal oscillatory rate for 'BX' or cancer (at 3 day intervals). It was found that the elapsed time between treatments attains better results than the cases treated daily. This gives the lymphatic system an opportunity to absorb and cast off the toxic condition which is produced by the devitalized dead particles of the 'BX' (Bacillus X) virus. No rise in body temperature was perceptible in any of these cases above normal during or after the frequency instrument treatment. No special diets were used in any of this clinical work, but we sincerely believe that a proper diet compiled for the individual would be of benefit."

In this putative 1934 clinic they claimed Rife's beam yielded a 100% cure rate.


For such an seemingly effective instrument, very little is known about this device. According to a "manual" written by John Crane, which he sent to this author, the 1934 Rife Ray Equipment consisted of 1) the power supply or a large bank of car batteries with three motor generator sets to maintain direct current flow, 2) a frequency generator capable of modulating audio and radio frequency waves which were variable by controls and, 3) applicator tubes which were similar to Coolidge type x-ray tubes filled with a noble gas (or gases) which gave an emanation at varying frequencies forming the method of transmission from a right angle electrode "which absorbed the current directly to grounded connections."

The specific frequency effective against the BX is given by various sources as 2127 or 2128 cycles per second. According to one source who worked with an original model, these numbers were not frequencies at all, but arbitrary dial settings, and should be read off as: 2,1,2,7, etc.

Rife indicated he was using a +/- 25 meter wavelength (11.78 Megacycles) as well as another which was 17 6/10 meters (17.045 Megacycles). According to principles of heterodying, these two frequencies would result in two major side bands at 28.825 Mhz, and 5.265Mhz. The following is taken from Rife's notes of November 20, 1932:

Filterable Virus: Passes W: K medium

motile-small ovoid granule
Highly plastic
visible only with mono chromatic light
angle of refraction 12 3/10
color by chemical refraction Purple-red
length--1/15 micron : breadth 1/20 micron.

+ anode
- cathode x
Death rate in milliamperes 175 D.C.
Influence of X ray none
" Ultra Violet slows motility
" Infra Red none
Thermal death point 42 C. 24 hrs.

Filament voltage 10
Filament amperage 86
Plate voltage 928
Cycles per second 11,780,000
Wavelength of super regeneration of audion tube 17 6/10 meters.

There are several aspects of Rife's original work that is not clear. For example the above notes indicate the BX was attracted to the cathode or -negative terminal. In other notes, Rife also reported that the cancer "virus" was electro-statically bi-polar and could be segregated into two groups: some attracted to the positive terminal and some to the negative terminal respectively. Samples from a segregated group could not produce the disease. So this is not clear. The above quoted note also does not list any audio frequency, so this supports the contention that the so-called audio frequencies were dial settings and not audio frequencies. Thus there is no known way to correlate such without having an accurate schematic for the device he used at the time he recorded these frequencies.

The Rife modality of treatment of disease falls under the classification of physical remedies. Others in this class are Roentgen or X-rays, light, diathermy or heat treatments. Today there is an effort to define Rife's work as "energy" medicine. Based on studies of Rife's own words and reports from those who knew him, Rife would not accept such a definition. He was following the standard protocols of medical research and advanced the methodologies of research in the process. He never brought into the arena of his work concepts foreign to research engineers of his day, although he did wed scientific findings and methods from fields outside the selected sciences of microscopy and medicine (as he did in utilizing an opthomological tool like the Risley prism; and the concept of resonance to shatter biological forms just as resonance may shatter a glass or an earthquake shatters buildings). Although Rife did utilize ideas suggested by the work of Albert Abrams, he did not espouse Abram's philosophy. He sought merely to extend the potentials of physical science and microscopy. Rife once said that his work left him penniless and ignored by the medical and scientific community of which he was once a respected member, but that if he had it to do over again, he would without hesitation.

Some Implications of Rife's findings

Rife contended that the BX was doubtless spurred into action by the state of the individual's health. It follows then that the appearance of the particle is first and formost an indicator of something amiss in the state of health. From there the condition compounds and becomes complex.

Rife had a million volt X ray apparatus. It is interesting to note that X-ray had no effect on the BX or BY. Indeed, he used ionizing radiation to culture them. For this reason Rife was insistent that X-ray was to be avoided, as it had the propensity to activate or stimulate the pleomorphism. For an interesting insight to this, see the Synapse interview with Dr. Gofman:

This suggests some other interesting observations: first, that the BX and BY are of such dimensions that ordinary staining compounds are usless. Like trying to get a mouse to swallow an elephant Rife said. Although chemotherapeutic compounds are directed towards cellular processes and not virus, the same limitations apply: they won't affect ultra-entities. Rife observed that the BX-BY were anaerobic. Necrotic tissues which result from chemotherapy will have a low oxygen saturation. Thus not only are these two standard approaches to cancer treatment useless against such a cause of cancer, they are creating circumstances similar to those used by Rife and Kendall for culturing of their "virus" in the first place. Furthermore, hard X-ray and chemotherapeutic agents are in themselves carcinogenic due to their affect on the genome.

Rife was a scientist. He used reserve in framing hypotheses, and was guided by his own experimental evidence. To a certain extent, his own and the reservations of his associates in attempting to develop their clinical data-base and the theoretical basis of how the instrument worked delayed the presentation of their experimental results to the world. Dr. Johnson, who had so greatly supported Rife's work, and who was said to be preparing to formally present their findings to the world died suddenly before he could do so.

The Rife story is an interesting one. There is no doubt he was an extraordinary engineer and creative man. Unfortunately he did not keep the kind of notes, or share his data in a way that benefits science. It isn't to be wondered at that scientists of today question the veracity of the claims surrounding both his microscope and the ray device. In a follow-up article, we will explore some of the possibilties implied by these claims.

  • The New Microscopes, A discussion by: R.E. Seidel, M.D. and M. Elizabeth Winter, Philadelphia, Pa. February 1944, Journal of the Franklin Institute (also reflected in the Smithsonian Annual Report for 1944, Number 3781, pp. 207-219, 3 plates.)
  • History of the Development of a Successful Treatment for Cancer, and Other Virus, Bacteria and Fungi, R.R. Rife; Report No. Dev.-1042, Allied Industries, 1953. Published by Rife Virus Microscope Institute, San Diego, Ca. (As of yet, I have no complete copies of this book. I have only found snippits in John Crane's "A Study in Electron Therapy". Updates on status will be posted in the index of RCRS.)
  • What has become of the Rife Microscope? Christopher Bird, New Age Journal, Boston, March 1976, pp 41-47.
  • The Rife Report: The Cancer Cure that Worked", John Crane and Barry Lynes, Marcus Books, P.O. Box 327, Queensville, Ontario, Canada LOG 1RO. Phone: (416)478-2201.

    --For an interesting and related work, read Christopher Bird's "The Persecution and Trial of Gaston Naessens", H.J.Kramer Inc. P.O. Box 1082, Tiburon, CA 94920--

    (For a view of the Universal Microscope as a JPG file, see:unimic.htm)
    Some of the images in this file are presented courtesy of Rob van Hattum of Noorderlicht and VPRO SCIENCE TV. Visit the Noorderlicht page to see some very nice GIF images of the Universal as well as the "number 5" Rife Microscope in storage at the Science Museum (Formerly Wellcome Museum) in England.

  • Visit the Royal Rife Research Society for more details about Rife's life and work.
  • James Bare's Web-site is an abstract from his book on reproducing the Rife Frequency Instrument, and which serves as a manual for building a similar unit. He describes studies on micro-organisms like e.coli and paramecium exposed to the instrument, as well as offering more links to other related sites: Rife Technologies Homepage.
  • Visit Science Museum's Synopsis on the #5 Rife Microscope for some other views on this subject.
  • Then visit Science Museum of London its an interesting site, and is spreading like the Ancient Roman Empire it seems. (You won't find the microscope illustrated on the museum pages though.)
  • Also, visit the Rife Research Page:Rife Research for addresses, related info.
  • And the Rife Technical Page" Rife Technical Page for discussions on construction of the instrument.

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