Homeopathy4health

2 April 2008

The ‘New Age of Water – the most significant scientific discovery of this century’.

Filed under: Homeopathy,homoeopathy,science — homeopathy4health @ 7:28 am
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More food for thought on how interesting and unknown the science of water is. Not simple and never ‘just water’ as I’ve said before: Homeopathy myths: it’s just water and Homeopathy myths: it’s just water 2

The Institute of Science in Society “Liquid Crystalline Water at the Interface” 31/3/08

Just add sunlight for energy and life Dr. Mae-Wan Ho 

“Why does water vaporized into the sky form clouds instead of just spreading out evenly in space? Where does lightning come from in a storm? How does Jello hold so much water inside without it leaking out? How does the water bug walk on water?

If you never had your curiosity aroused by these natural phenomena that have exercised generations of scientists still in search of a definitive answer, try this.

Two identical beakers are almost filled with water and placed next to each other with the rims touching. The beakers of water are connected to a power pack and a current is passed through a positive electrode placed in one beaker and the negative electrode in the other. Instantly, a bridge of water forms between the beakers, looping over the adjoining rims and connecting the two bodies of water. The beakers are then moved apart slowly, the water bridge stretches and lengthens, but remains intact, even when the beakers are separated by a gap of several centimetres. And furthermore, the water bridge is still passing electricity from one beaker to the other, like a stiff, transparent cable. There is no doubt that water conducts electricity, as our readers will be aware [1] (Positive Electricity Zaps Through Water Chains, SiS 28). But what makes the water stiffen up to make a bridge?

The beginning of an answer to all of these questions, and the key to many more surprisingly phenomena readily demonstrated on the ordinary lab bench and some even on the kitchen table, turns out to be “liquid crystalline water”, water that is ordered and aligned like liquid crystals [2]. It gets my vote for the most significant discovery of the present century so far. It also turns out that liquid crystalline water and sunlight are practically all we need for energy and life.

Water is one of the simplest chemical compounds (see Fig. 1). Yet its remarkable ‘anomalous’ properties have resisted all attempts at a consistent scientific explanation; that is, until quite recently. A remarkable collection of dedicated researchers on ‘interfacial water’ have been homing in on the secret of water [3] (see New Age of Water series (SiS 23, 24, 28, 32); and one of them may have just got it.

Figure 1. The water molecule with positive and negative charges at opposite ends and how it could stack up with opposite charges next to each other (courtesy of physicalgeography.net)

Bioengineer who loves water

Gerald Pollack, Prof. of bioengineering, recently received the highest honour that the University of Washington at Seattle in the United States could confer on its own staff. He was to give the 2008 Annual Faculty Lecture on his research, entitled, “Water, energy and life: Fresh views from the water’s edge”. I watched the hour-long lecture via the video link [2] with great fascination.

I am no stranger to Pollack’s work, having reviewed his book, Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life [4] published in 2001 (see  Biology of Least Action, SiS 18)[5]; and featured the amazing discovery from his laboratory a couple of years later [6] (Water Forms Massive Exclusion Zones, SiS 23).

What strikes me above all is the elegant simplicity of his experimental approach that takes our understanding of the most abundant, most vital substance for life on earth a quantum leap forward. Many of the experiments can be done on the kitchen table, and you don’t even need a microscope to see the results. Add to that a highly congenial and unassuming personality, and no wonder Pollack is attracting undergraduates and graduates like flies, not to mention many collaborators around the world.

EZ water is liquid crystalline

The initial discovery that Pollack and his colleague Zheng Jian-ming reported in 2003 [6] was that water forms a massive ‘exclusion zone’ (EZ) next to the surface of hydrophilic (water-loving) gels. The EZ is so-called because it excludes solutes, i.e., substances dissolved in the water. By putting into the water solutes large enough to be seen under the microscope, or even with the naked eye, the EZ shows up as a region completely clear of the solute. Thus, when a suspension of microspheres 0.5 to 2 mm in diameter is put into a chamber with the gel, a clear zone, free of microspheres soon develops next to the gel and typically ends up hundreds of microns thick  (see Fig. 2). This EZ is stable if undisturbed, for days and weeks once it is formed.

The scientific community greeted the initial discovery with much scepticism. Interfacial water – water next to surfaces – is generally recognized as being restricted in motion, relatively ordered, and having somewhat different properties from water existing in the bulk. Using sophisticated techniques and big machines such as NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) X-rays, and more recently, neutron diffraction, researchers have found no more than one or two layers that have altered properties compared to bulk water [6]. But the EZ is so enormous that at least hundreds of thousands of layers are involved.

Figure 2. Clear exclusion zone next to gel surface free of microspheres

Gilbert Ling, doyen of the breakaway biological water researchers, had long argued that all water in the cell (typically 70 percent by weight) is ordered with very unusual properties [7] (see Strong Medicine for Cell Biology [8], SiS 24). More recently, Ling proposed on theoretical grounds that the ordered layers could extend infinitely under ideal conditions [9].

Pollack and his team spent a year ruling out all kinds of artefacts and extended their results, showing that the EZ of water is a very general phenomenon. What’s more, it had been discovered as far back as a hundred years ago; only to be consigned to oblivion after the ‘polywater’ controversy of the late 1960s, when the claim of ‘polymerised’ water was finally attributed to contaminants [10].

Pollack’s team found that a wide range of hydrophilic gels gave EZ in water: polyvinyl alcohol, polyacrylamide, polyacrylc acid, Nafion (used as a proton exchange membrane in fuel cells), and biological tissues such as a bundle of rabbit muscle or collagen [11]. In fact, a single layer of hydrophilic charged groups coated on any surface is sufficient to give an exclusion zone. The requirement is to have chemical groups that can form hydrogen bonds with water molecules. Similarly, solutes need not be microspheres, they could be red blood cells, bacteria [2], colloidal gold, and even molecules such as serum albumin labelled with a fluorescent dye, and a fluorescent dye molecule as small as 200-300 daltons. All of these are excluded from EZ water.

Most interestingly, EZ water was found at the air-water interface. The EZ layer, thick enough to be seen easily with the naked eye, was sufficiently stiff to be lifted up with a glass rod without breaking (Fig. 3). This readily explains how the strong surface tension of the EZ layer allows water bugs to walk over it without falling in. Also if such water forms next to hydrophilic surfaces inside the Jello, it would not fall out. And, we can see how the water bridge of EZ water could form between the separated beakers. Of course, an electric field will improve the alignment of the water molecules and hence its crystallinity and stiffness .

Figure 3. Glass rod lifts up stiff EZ layer at water air interface

Now that EZ water can be produced in bulk, it is easy to demonstrate other altered properties.  NMR measurements confirm that the layer is associated with decreased mobility (increased ordering) relative to the bulk water, while infrared imaging showed it emitted much less than bulk water, again indicative of increased order.

Pollack refers to EZ water as “liquid crystalline water”, and says it was in fact biologist William Bate Hardy who first suggested almost a hundred years ago that water molecules at the interface could exist in many layers approaching crystalline order. This is very much in line with the discovery in my laboratory that organisms and cells are liquid crystalline [12] (The Rainbow And The Worm), and that water is intrinsic to the liquid crystallinity of organisms [13] (The Liquid Crystalline Organism and Biological Water, ISIS scientific publication).

But more surprises are in store. 

A water battery

There was already a hint that the EZ has unusual electrical potential when pH sensitive dyes were used as solutes to see if they too, were excluded from the EZ. Indeed, they were, but they also showed up a zone of unusually low pH (red band) right above the clear EZ (see Fig. 4). A low pH means high concentration of protons (H+) immediately next to the EZ, and decreasing away from it.

Figure 3. Proton rich region above EZ with dye excluded when a pH sensitive dye was used (still captured from video [2])

An excess of protons suggests that charge separation has taken place in the water molecules as follows:

H2O —› H+ + OH-                                            (1)                                           

So where did the negatively charged OH- ions go? A measurement of electrical potential shows that away from the EZ, the bulk solution had the same electrical potential everywhere, however, as soon as the measuring electrode enters the EZ, the electrical potential dropped sharply to –120mV or more, depending on the gel involved, remaining at that level well into the gel itself (see Figure 5).

Figure 5 Electrical potential measured at different distances from the gel surface located at 0

This macroscopic separation of charges is stable, as is the EZ itself. It is in fact a water battery. A battery, like any other, could be used to power light bulbs or your labtop, and could be the most exciting application of liquid crystalline water (see Fig. 6). But what charges up the water battery? It takes energy to separate the charges, so where does the energy come from? That too was a surprise.

Figure 6. A water battery

Light charges up water

It turns out that water is sensitive to light, as is revealed by the exclusion zone next to a gel. It thickens on being exposed to light, which means that light enhances the formation of liquid crystalline water. The entire spectrum of sunlight is effective, but the peaks are in the visible blue and especially the invisible near-infrared (3 000 nm) regions. A mere 5 minutes exposure to the infrared light will cause the EZ to thicken several-fold. And if you connect up the EZ and the bulk water above to an external circuit, there is a measurable current, which lasts for a considerable time after the infrared light is turned off.

Green plants and especially blue-green bacteria have been splitting water according to equation (1) for billions of years, in order to obtain energy from the sun; and in the process fixing carbon dioxide to make carbohydrates and other macromolecules to feed practically the entire biosphere. The separation of charges in the formation of liquid crystalline water is essentially the same process.

Pollack asks tantalisingly: Can water replace oil? The applications of liquid crystalline water are wide-open. His laboratory is already working on a water-purification device based on separating liquid crystalline water of the EZ from the bulk water. (Liquid crystalline water is reputed to have health-promoting properties, though that is still unconfirmed.) Another application is anti-fouling agent: a coating that essentially prevents any impurities in water from sticking.

One invention I would love is a web suit that would enable me to glide over the water like a water bug!

Pollack’s findings have fundamental implications for our understanding of physics, chemistry and biology.

Of colloid crystals, thunder clouds and self-organisation

One puzzle that is immediately solved is the formation of colloid crystals (see Fig. 7) – literally crystals made of colloid particles arranged in an orderly way in solvents – which is very topical in the manufacture of nano-structured electronic and photonic devices.

Figure 7. Colloid crystals, scale bar 20 microns

Norio Ise and his colleagues in Osaka, Japan, first discovered colloid crystals forming in water more than 20 years ago [14] (Water and Colloid Crystals, SiS 32), and they explained the colloid crystals in terms of a long-range attraction between the colloid particles, though the precise mechanism has remained elusive. The major difficulty is that the colloid particles have the same charge and it is impossible, according to conventional theory for like charges to attract one another.

Pollack’s findings provide just the mechanism required. Colloid particles and microspheres are like the hydrophilic gel surfaces that form layers of liquid crystalline water or EZ. In the case of the gel, the EZ has an excess of negative charges with excess positive charges in the region outside (see Fig. 6). In the case of the microspheres and colloid particles, each is enclosed in a shell of liquid crystalline water with excess negative charges, while the positive charges are also driven outside (see Fig. 8). The repulsion between the negatively charged particles is exactly balanced by the attraction to the positive charges in between. In the space between two particles, there will be an excess of positive charges compared to elsewhere, which is why the particles end up being attracted to one another.

Figure 8. How like attracts like (see main text)

The same mechanism may explain why clouds form. Clouds are essentially minute water droplets nucleated on particles, and these too would end up attracting one another. The mechanism of charge separation explains at least where the enormous amount of energy unleashed in a lightning flash comes from. Storms could perturb the equilibrium of charged swarms in the atmosphere, leading to violent electrostatic discharges. The discharge heats up the air so much that it set up a shock wave, which is why thunder follows lightning. Obviously the details need to be worked out, but at least the major mechanism is clear.

The long-range attraction between like particles is also the main mechanism for self-assembly of molecules and particles inside the cells. It is the organizing principle that has long eluded biology, or as Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Laureate and father of biochemistry said: “Life is water dancing to the tune of molecules.”

Perhaps it is the other way around as well: Life is molecules dancing “

18 February 2008

Water research scientist’s view of homeopathy

Martin Chaplin BSc PhD CChem FRSC Professor of Applied Science, Water and Aqueous Systems Research, London South Bank University has this to say about Homeopathy which I extract and highlight here:

Re Jacques Benveniste’s research

“A controversial paper in Nature [132] containing data from several laboratories, claiming to prove the efficacy of extreme dilution (the ‘memory of water‘ [1112])a has not been generally accepted after the results were reported as not reproducible under closely controlled and observed (by Nature’s self-acknowledged biased observers), but strained, overly-demanding and unsympathetic, conditions with negative results from only one laboratory being cherry-picked from amongst otherwise positive results [133]. The original results [132] were, however, confirmed in a blinded study by the statistician Alfred Spira [346e] and also in a rather bizarre Nature paper purporting to prove the opposite [346b],b and were subsequently comprehensively confirmed by a blinded multi-center trial [346a]. In spite of this apparent confirmation by several laboratories, there are still doubts over whether the experiments are truly reproducible and whether the noted effects may be due to the origin of the biological samples or human operator effects [1362].”

Re structural change from potentisation, the effect of glassware and thermoluminescence: 

“A thorough investigation into the structural differences previously reported between homeopathically potentized (that is, succussed and extremely diluted) and unpotentized nitric acid solutions showed that the effect was lost or changed if different glassware was used [495]. Changes in the thermoluminescence of ice produced from ultra-diluted water have been noted [500a] but can be explained by remaining trace amounts of material (due to poor mixing, impurities, absorption, nanobubbles (that is, nanocavities) [500d] or other causes) being concentrated between ice crystals [500b]; an explanation supported by later work [500c].”

Re meta-analyses and The Lancet:

“Meta-analysis of 89 placebo-controlled trials failed to prove either that homeopathy was efficacious for any single clinical condition OR that its positive clinical effects could entirely be due to a placebo effect [121a], thus leaving the scientific door open both ways. A further analysis of this data, however, indicated that some of these studies may have failed to avoid bias and that studies using better methodology yielded the less positive effects [121b]. It should also be noted that placebo effects constitute real clinical effects [121c], should be judged positively and probably account for a significant proportion of the success of prevailing established medicine. A recent analytical review has reinforced the, more negative, view concerning the clinical effectiveness of homeopathic remedies [527]. Further, a recent quality assessment of published experiments on homeopathic preparations has concluded that many were performed with inadequate controls [651]. “

Re television investigations: 

“Although a scientific trial of homeopathy conducted for the BBC and similar work reported on ABC News’ 20/20 program both failed to show any homeopathic effect, the experiments they reported have been subject to serious criticism including that of careless scientific methodology. In August 2005 [840], the medical journal ‘The Lancet’ controversially argued for halting any further research into homeopathy concluding it has no effect other than as a placebo. This judgment was based on a comparative study of 110 matched placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and conventional medicine [841]. The conclusion was reached, however, in spite of the study apparently showing little evidence of differences between the two groups (homeopathy and conventional) when all the data was considered. There were differences when a tiny percentage of unmatched larger trials were cherry-picked for further analysis (that is, 102/110 of the homeopathy studies and 104/110 of the conventional studies were discarded).c The remaining 6% of the studies, however, still showed positive (if not conclusive, possibly as the number of trials left in this final grouping was so small) evidence in favor of a homeopathic effect over placebo. Although this study has come in for considerable and rightful criticism, as above and [1381, 1382], it is often put forward in support of the view that homeopathy works no better than as a placebo, a fact that it clearly does not deliver.”

Re bias: 

“Many laugh homeopathy out of serious consideration as a clinical practice, sometimes resorting to unscientific, unbalanced and unrefereed editorial diatribe. One of the main reasons concerning this disbelief in the efficacy of homeopathy lies in the difficulty in understanding how it might work. If an acceptable theory was available then more people would consider it more seriously. However, it is difficult at present to sustain a theory as to why a truly infinitely diluted aqueous solution, consisting of just H2O molecules, should retain any difference from any other such solution. It is even more difficult to put forward a working hypothesis as to how small quantities of such ‘solutions’ can act to elicit a specific response when confronted with large amounts of complex solution in a subject. A major problem in this area is that, without a testable hypothesis for the generally acknowledged potency of homeopathy, there is a growing possibility of others making fraudulent claims in related areas, as perhaps evidenced by the increasing use of the internet to advertise ‘healthy’ water concentrates using dubious (sometimes published but irreproducible) scientific and spiritual evidence.”

Re possible explanation for homeopathy:

“A key feature of any difference between water before and after its use in preparing homeopathic dilutions is likely to be the vigorous shaking (succussion) that must be carried out between successive dilutions, and which may produce significantly increased concentrations of silicate, sodium and bicarbonate ions [335, 1207] by dissolution of the glass tubes and increases in nanobubbles and redox molecules [1066] from the atmosphere, respectively.

How water may show a memory is explored further in the ‘memory of water’ page

16 February 2008

Homeopathy myths: It’s ‘just water’:2

The Homeopathy Research Institute  observes: ‘Opponents of homeopathy often refer to the simplicity of the water molecule as a key argument why homeopathy cannot work. “It’s just water!” they say’ and comment ‘It’s hard to realise just how complex a substance water really is’:

From London South Bank University “Water Structure and Science” by Martin Chaplin

Water Anomalies

Water is an apparently simple molecule (H2O) with a highly complex character. As a gas it is one of lightest known, as a liquid it is much denser than expected and as a solid it is much lighter than expected. Much of the behavior of liquid water is quite different from what is found with other liquids, giving rise to the term ‘the anomalous properties of water’. a

As liquid water is so common-place in our everyday lives, it is often regarded as a ‘typical’ liquid. In reality water is most atypical as a liquid, behaving as a quite different material at low temperatures to that when it is hot. It has often been stated (for example, [127]) that life depends on these anomalous properties of water. In particular, the large heat capacity, high thermal conductivity and high water content in organisms contribute to thermal regulation and prevent local temperature fluctuations, thus allowing us to more easily control our body temperature. The high latent heat of evaporation gives resistance to dehydration and considerable evaporative cooling. Water is an excellent solvent due to its polarity, high dielectric constant and small size, particularly for polar and ionic compounds and salts.b It has unique hydration properties towards biological macromolecules (particularly proteins and nucleic acids) that determine their three-dimensional structures, and hence their functions, in solution. This hydration forms gels that can reversibly undergo the gel-sol phase transitions that underlie many cellular mechanisms [351]. Water ionizes and allows easy proton exchange between molecules, so contributing to the richness of the ionic interactions in biology.

At 4°C water expands on heating OR cooling. This density maximum together with the low ice density results in (i) the necessity that all of a body of fresh water (not just its surface) is close to 4°C before any freezing can occur, (ii) the freezing of rivers, lakes and oceans is from the top down, so permitting survival of the bottom ecology, insulating the water from further freezing, reflecting back sunlight into space and allowing rapid thawing, and (iii) density driven thermal convection causing seasonal mixing in deeper temperate waters carrying life-providing oxygen into the depths. The large heat capacity of the oceans and seas allows them to act as heat reservoirs such that sea temperatures vary only a third as much as land temperatures and so moderate our climate (for example, the Gulf stream carries tropical warmth to northwestern Europe). The compressibility of water reduces the sea level by about 40 m giving us 5% more land [65]. Water’s high surface tension plus its expansion on freezing encourages the erosion of rocks to give soil for our agriculture.

Notable amongst the anomalies of water are the opposite properties of hot and cold water, with the anomalous behavior more accentuated at low temperatures where the properties of supercooled water often diverge from those of hexagonal ice.c As cold liquid water is heated it shrinks, it becomes less easy to compress, its refractive index increases, the speed of sound within it increases, gases become less soluble and it is easier to heat and conducts heat better. In contrast as hot liquid water is heated it expands, it becomes easier to compress, its refractive index reduces, the speed of sound within it decreases, gases become more soluble and it is harder to heat and a poorer conductor of heat. With increasing pressure, cold water molecules move faster but hot water molecules move slower. Hot water freezes faster than cold water and ice melts when compressed except at high pressures when liquid water freezes when compressed. No other material is commonly found as solid, liquid and gas.d

The anomalies of water appear as a heirarchy of effects with different bounds [169]. These are shown indicatively opposite as derived from modeling, not experimental data. The ‘Structural’ bounds indicate where water is more disordered when compressed, the ‘Dynamic’ bounds indicate where diffusion increases with density, and the ‘Thermodynamic’ bounds show where there is a temperature of maximum density; with the data from [169] shifted upwards 38 K to give the correct temperature of maximum density under standard pressure. As density always increases with increasing pressure, a similar relationship holds with pressure along the horizontal axis. Heirarchy of anomalies, based on SPC/E model of Ref. 169. This graph is indicative only and does not show experimental points

Water phase anomalies e

  1. Water has unusually high melting point. [Explanation]
  2. Water has unusually high boiling point. [Explanation]
  3. Water has unusually high critical point. [Explanation]
  4. Solid water exists in a wider variety of stable (and metastable) crystal and amorphous structures than other materials. [Explanation]
  5. The thermal conductivity of ice reduces with increasing pressure. [Explanation]
  6. The structure of liquid water changes at high pressure. [Explanation]
  7. Supercooled water has two phases and a second critical point at about -91°C. [Explanation]
  8. Liquid water is easily supercooled but glassified with difficulty. [Explanation]
  9. Liquid water exists at very low temperatures and freezes on heating. [Explanation]
  10. Liquid water may be easily superheated. [Explanation]
  11. Hot water may freeze faster than cold water; the Mpemba effect. [Explanation]
  12. Warm water vibrates longer than cold water. [Explanation]

Water density anomalies

  1. The density of ice increases on heating (up to 70 K). [Explanation]
  2. Water shrinks on melting. [Explanation]
  3. Pressure reduces ice’s melting point. [Explanation]
  4. Liquid water has a high density that increases on heating (up to 3.984°C). [Explanation]
  5. Pressure reduces the temperature of maximum density. [Explanation]
  6. There is a minimum in the density of supercooled water. [Explanation]
  7. Water has a low coefficient of expansion (thermal expansivity). [Explanation]
  8. Water’s thermal expansivity reduces increasingly (becoming negative) at low temperatures. [Explanation]
  9. Water’s thermal expansivity increases with increased pressure. [Explanation]
  10. The number of nearest neighbors increases on melting. [Explanation]
  11. The number of nearest neighbors increases with temperature. [Explanation]
  12. Water has unusually low compressibility. [Explanation]
  13. The compressibility drops as temperature increases up to 46.5°C. [Explanation]
  14. There is a maximum in the compressibility-temperature relationship. [Explanation]
  15. The speed of sound increases with temperature up to 74°C. [Explanation]
  16. The speed of sound may show a minimum. [Explanation]
  17. ‘Fast sound’ is found at high frequencies and shows an discontinuity at higher pressure. [Explanation]
  18. NMR spin-lattice relaxation time is very small at low temperatures. [Explanation]
  19. The refractive index of water has a maximum value at just below 0°C. [Explanation]
  20. The change in volume as liquid changes to gas is very large. [Explanation]

Water material anomalies

  1. No aqueous solution is ideal. [Explanation]
  2. D2O and T2O differ significantly from H2O in their physical properties. [Explanation]
  3. Liquid H2O and D2O differ significantly in their phase behavior. [Explanation]
  4. Solutes have varying effects on properties such as density and viscosity. [Explanation]
  5. The solubilities of non-polar gases in water decrease with temperature to a minimum and then rise. [Explanation]
  6. The dielectric constant of water is high. [Explanation]
  7. The dielectric constant shows a temperature maximum. [Explanation]
  8. Proton and hydroxide ion mobilities are anomalously fast in an electric field. [Explanation]
  9. The electrical conductivity of water rises to a maximum at about 230°C. [Explanation]
  10. Acidity constants of weak acids show temperature minima. [Explanation]
  11. X-ray diffraction shows an unusually detailed structure. [Explanation]
  12. Under high pressure water molecules move further away from each other with increasing pressure. [Explanation]

Water thermodynamic anomalies

  1. The heat of fusion of water with temperature exhibits a maximum at -17°C. [Explanation]
  2. Water has over twice the specific heat capacity of ice or steam. [Explanation]
  3. The specific heat capacity (CP and CV) is unusually high. [Explanation]
  4. The specific heat capacity CP has a minimum at 36°C. [Explanation]
  5. The specific heat capacity (CP) has a maximum at about -45°C. [Explanation]
  6. The specific heat capacity (CP) has a minimum with respect to pressure. [Explanation]
  7. The heat capacity (CV) has a maximum. [Explanation]
  8. High heat of vaporization. [Explanation]
  9. High heat of sublimation. [Explanation]
  10. High entropy of vaporization. [Explanation]
  11. The thermal conductivity of water is high and rises to a maximum at about 130°C. [Explanation]

Water physical anomalies

  1. Water has unusually high viscosity. [Explanation]
  2. Large viscosity increase as the temperature is lowered. [Explanation]
  3. Water’s viscosity decreases with pressure below 33°C. [Explanation]
  4. Large diffusion decrease as the temperature is lowered. [Explanation]
  5. At low temperatures, the self-diffusion of water increases as the density and pressure increase. [Explanation]
  6. The thermal diffusivity rises to a maximum at about 0.8 GPa. [Explanation]
  7. Water has unusually high surface tension. [Explanation]
  8. Some salts give a surface tension-concentration minimum; the Jones-Ray effect. [Explanation]
  9. Some salts prevent the coalescence of small bubbles. [Explanation]

Anomalies of water graph

Legend

Some of the anomalies of water related to temperature.

The graph uses data that have been scaled between their maximum and minimum values (see original data).


a   Whether or not the properties of water are seen to be anomalous depends upon which materials water is to be compared and the interpretation of ‘anomalous’. For example, it could well be argued that water possesses exactly those properties that one might deduce from its structure (see for example, [402]). Other tetrahedrally interacting liquids, such as liquid Si, SiO2 and BeF2 have many similar ‘anomalies’. Comparisons between water, liquid sodium, argon and benzene appear to Franks [112] to indicate several of the properties given above as not being anomalous. However, these materials are perhaps not the most typical of liquids. My list gives the unusual properties generally understood to make liquid water (and ice) stand out from ‘typical’ liquids (or solids). See [242] for a review concentrating on the non-anomalous properties of water; that is, those that are the ‘same’ as for other liquids. [Back]b    It is therefore very difficult to obtain really pure water (for example, < 5 ng g-1). For a review of aqueous solubility prediction, see [744]. Note that ice, in contrast, is a very poor solvent and this may be made use of when purifying water (for example, degassing) using successive freeze-thaw cycles. [Back]c    Some scientists attribute the low temperature anomalous nature of water to the presence of a second critical point; an interesting if somewhat unproductive hypothesis as a sole explanation (as the attribution mixes cause with effect). Water’s anomalies do not require this as an explanation. [Back]d    The temperature range of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ water varies in these examples; see the individual entries for details. [Back]e    The anomalies of water are divided into groups but, clearly, some anomalies may be included under more than one topic and there may not be universal agreement for the groupings shown. [Back]Re skeptic comments: links to and brief summaries of peer-reviewed articles or reasonable blogs discussing the above will be accepted. H4H.  

 

13 February 2008

Homeopathy myths: it’s ‘just water’

The Homeopathy Research Institute  (aims: ‘To perform and promote innovative research of the highest scientific standard in the field of homeopathy.  To enable and encourage communication between the scientific community, the medical profession, professional homeopaths, the media and the public at large’)

reports in its February newsletter:

 

It’s not ‘just’ water

“It’s hard to realise just how complex a substance water really is.  Water is everywhere; it covers 2/3 of the earth’s surface and makes up 60-70% of the human body.  In our daily life, we only know water as either a liquid, ice or vapour. However upon closer inspection, scientists have catalogued 15 different types of ice1, which can be admired in the intricate designs of snow flakes and the amazing pictures of water crystals taken by Dr Imoto2This complexity is due to the precise structure of the water molecule, making water one of the most complex substances known to science3.

Opponents of homeopathy often refer to the simplicity of the water molecule as a key argument why homeopathy cannot work. “It’s just water!” they say.  However this is not the case as has now been shown by several fields of science outside of homeopathy4.

In the field of toxicology there is a known and documented phenomenon known as ‘hormesis’4A substance showing hormesis has the property that it has the opposite effect in small doses, than in large doses.  This supports the use of tautopathy, where homeopathic doses of a toxin are given to accelerate the detoxification of that same toxin (e.g. Arsenic).

Furthermore, in the field of material sciences, there is a phenomenon known as ‘epitaxis’.  This phenomenon is used in the industrial manufacture of semiconductors for microprocessors.  Epitaxy refers to the transfer of structural information from one substance to another, which can happen at the interface between the two substances.  This transfer of structure information can remain after the original substance has disappeared from the system.  This is very similar to the theory of homeopathic dilutions, the only difference being that epitaxy is known to happen in crystaline materials but not in liquids such as water5.

More recently, experiments using the light emission spectrum (Raman and Ultra-Violet-Visible spectroscopy) of homeopathic water vs normal water have shown that homeopathically prepared water has a different molecular structure than normal water6.  Although these are preliminary results they do indicate that homeopathic remedies are not ‘just water’, something has remained of the originally diluted substance.

Finally I want to return to the work of the late Dr Benveniste (1935-2004).  Benveniste’s original publication in 1988 in Nature7 – science’s most prestigious journal – created outrage in the scientific community all over the world.  It showed that dilutions beyond Avogadro’s number (behond which there is no trace of the original substance left in the solution, corresponding to –12C) have a reproducible biological effect onliving cells.  The scandal eventually let do Benveniste having to resign from his position as director of the CNRS, France’s main governmental science agency.  It is reassuring that his results have since then been reproduced and confirmed, showing that indeed highly (homeopathically) diluted substances retain a biological activity akin to that of the substance in its crude form8-9.

In this brief overview of the science of water I hope I have managed to convey some of the strong scientific arguments that support the theory of homeopathic dilutions and thus the validity of the homeopathic principle of potentisation.”

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ice

2. http://www.masaru-emoto.net and his books such as ‘Messages from water’.

3. http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/anmlies.html 

4. Mastrangelo D., (2007) ‘Hormesis, epitaxy, the structure of liquid water, and the science of homeopathy’. Med Sci Monit 13 (1):SR1-8.

5. Roy R. (2005) “The Structure of Liquid Water; Novel Insights from Materials Research; Potential Relevance to Homeopathy.” Material Research Innovations. 9 (4), pg 577-608.

6. Rao ML (2007) “The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy”. Homeopathy. 96 (3); 175-82

7. E Davenas & J Benveniste (1988). “Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE” Nature 816 – 818

8. Belon P. (1999) “Inhibition of human basophil degranulation by successive histamine dilutions: results of a European multi-centre trial.”, 48 Suppl 1: S17-8

9. Belon P etal (2004). “Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation”. Inflamm Res. 53 (5):181-8

More discussion on water memory here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_memory

Interesting description of hormesis here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormesis ‘The biochemical mechanisms by which hormesis works are not well understood. It is conjectured that a low dose challenge with a toxin may trigger certain repair mechanisms in the body, and these mechanisms, having been initiated, are efficient enough that they not only neutralize the toxin’s effect, but even repair other defects not caused by the toxin.’

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