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Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Former NMU professor writes thrilling theories

Over 40 years ago, in the days of the Cold War, Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) waves were used to communicate with war submarines. The effects the waves had on people were unknown, yet the ELF wave communication system was implemented in Marquette.

Although, the technology is no longer existent, now, years later former NMU professor Lawrence Earle Johnson has published a thriller fiction novel called “Death Sine,” based on the technology’s history in Marquette.

“Death Sine” is set in Marquette in 1981 and begins with the mysterious death of a college student. A reporter and an agent pair up to uncover the mystery behind the death only to discover the violent effects of ELF waves on humans and the environment.

The events of the book are based on Johnson’s own research as well as the history of the waves in the area.

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Originally implemented by the Navy, the wave technology required the establishment of wires across long distances and the digging of an underground antenna running from Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula. The system established communication by transmitting frequencies through water. This allowed Navy submarines to stay covert by not having to surface to communicate, Johnson said.

The project sparked many objections from environmentalists, but the project wasn’t shut down until 2004 when it was deemed obsolete, according to

“The thing is, when you have these low frequency waves they can penetrate through anything. They can penetrate through the walls, through the earth, through the water,” Johnson said.

And there begins the conspiracy theory of his book. Johnson researched the effects ELF waves can have on humans.

“They’ll tell us the effects of the waves on worms, but not on people and that’s kind of where I got involved and thought, ‘Hmm,’’’ Johnson said.

He found that the waves, at much lower frequencies than those used by the Navy in Marquette, have the ability to penetrate and stimulate different parts of the brain causing heart attacks, homicidal or suicidal thoughts, unconsciousness and hallucinations.

This inspired the novel’s title “Death Sine.” Death being the ultimate effects of the waves on people and sine being the up-down-up cycle of a wave per second. The idea for his book came from Johnson’s time in Marquette as well as his interest in conspiracy theories.

“I find it fascinating—technology and science. I’ve been a fan of science fiction my whole life,” said Johnson. “I would voraciously read sci-fi novels, such as the Ace Double Books. And I just absorbed them.” Johnson’s other writing inspirations include his longtime career in criminal justice.

Born in San Diego and raised in Michigan, Johnson earned a degree in psychology and his master’s in criminal justice at Michigan State University.

He spent 14 years working in academia at universities in Georgia, Michigan and at NMU beginning in 1973.

During his time at NMU, Johnson helped to create the current criminal justice department. When he arrived, the department was a 2-year program with only 11 majors. Johnson designed the standing department to create a 4-year criminal justice program that allows students to specialize their degrees in areas such as security, law enforcement and corrections.

He also wrote grants for the criminal justice department, the Marquette City Police Department, and more.

During his teaching career, Johnson encouraged his students to think expansively, he said.

“Every time I taught criminal justice, I would say you can’t just look at what is in front of you, you have to look at other theories,” Johnson said. “If you find something that doesn’t fit, don’t throw it out, say, ‘Well why doesn’t it fit?’ You find out a lot of interesting things that way.”

Johnson also spent 14 years in different criminal justice jobs. He spent time as a police officer in the streets, working security, and jobs within the Secret Service. During his time in the Secret Service, Johnson was a part of security teams for presidents such as Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and even took part in foiling an assassination attempt against George H. W. Bush, he said.

“I’ve come across presidents here, presidents of other countries, the Secret Service. They’ve told me things that would blow your mind a little bit. So that’s why the theme of all my books is ‘Things are not as they appear,”’ Johnson said. “There is very little out there that we see that are actually as they are. So I kind of pull the curtain back on them and take a peek and put what I find.”

By writing books about this topic, Johnson is able to get people interested in theories and thinking outside of the box, he said.

“Your whole life they teach you to color inside the lines and make sure you do everything the way you are supposed to. Well, I don’t like that,” Johnson said.

After living in many different areas, Johnson still chose Northern Michigan as his home. Although he no longer lives in Marquette he misses aspects of the U.P. town.

“I miss the isolation of it. I like being up there away from everything. You had to drive three hours away just to get to the fish,” Johnson said.

Now residing in Traverse City, looking back on his career in criminal justice and academia, his life experiences and interests spark ideas within his writing.

Johnson completed his first book “Death Sine,” and self published it last September. He is currently working on finishing his second novel, a sequel to “Death Sine,” as well as a third book based on a conspiracy theory about giants. “Death Sine” was designed to be read quickly, said Johnson. He created the book with short chapters to be easy to read.

“It’s exciting. It’s a page turner. It moves right along with a lot of action, a lot of thought and good characters,” Johnson said.

“Death Sine” is available on Amazon in hard and soft cover and was released as an audio book Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. Johnson will be coming to Marquette this fall for a book signing.

© 2014 Jennifer Tacbas | Jennifer Leigh Photography

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