Corentin Louis Kervran (3 March 1901 – 2 February 1983) was a French scientist. Kervran was born in Quimper, Finistère (Brittany), and received a degree as an engineer in 1925. In World War II he was part of the French Resistance.
Kervran proposed that nuclear transmutation occurs in living organisms, which he called "biological transmutation". He made this claim after doing an experiment with chickens which he believed showed that they were generating calcium in their egg shells while there was no calcium in their food or soil. He had no known scientific explanation for it. Such transmutations are not possible according to known physics, chemistry, and biology. Proponents of biological transmutations fall outside mainstream physics and are not part of accepted scientific discourse.
In the 1960s, Louis Kervran claimed to have conducted experiments and studies demonstrating violations of the law of conservation of mass by biological systems, according to which the amount of each chemical element is preserved in all chemical reactions. He claimed that organisms can transmute potassium into calcium by nuclear fusion in the course of making an egg shell:
Since biological systems do not contain mechanisms to produce the speed, temperature, and pressure necessary for such reactions, even for extremely short periods of time, this contradicts basic physical laws.
Kervran said that his work was supported by prior studies and by reports of industrial accidents involving carbon monoxide. Kervran said that enzymes can facilitate biological transmutations using the weak nuclear force, by what he called "neutral currents." His response to criticism was to claim that physical laws do not apply to biological reactions, which contradicts the mainstream understanding that physical laws apply for all scales and conditions.
The alleged transmutations are claimed to resemble cold fusion. There is currently no accepted theoretical model which would predict cold fusion to occur.
In 1993, Kervran was awarded a parodic Ig Nobel prize in Physics due to his "improbable research" in biological transmutation. The award description called him an "ardent admirer of alchemy."
[The Journal of Scientific Exploration has the intention] to publish supposedly scientific papers on '[list of paranormal and pseudoscientific topics], apparent chemical or biological transmutation (alchemy), etc.' Despite the impressive jargon and in some cases the impressive academic degrees of the authors, these papers have been absolutely unconvincing to mainstream scientific journals and organizations, and, far from pointing the way to further research, they have been quite deliberately ignored.