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Water Remembers? Homeopathy Explained?

New research suggests water remembers what has been dissolved in it, even after dilution beyond the point where no molecule of the original substances could remain. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho reports.

For more than a century, practitioners of homeopathy have used highly diluted solutions of medicinal substances to treat diseases. Some substances are diluted way beyond the point at which no trace of the original substances could remain. It is as though the water has retained memory of the departed molecules. This has aroused a great deal of scepticism within the conventional medical and scientific community. To this day, ‘homeopathic’ is used as a term of derision, to indicate something imagined that has no reality.

But a series of recent discoveries in the conventional scientific community is making people think again.

First, there were the South Korean chemists who discovered two years ago that molecules dissolved in water clump together as they get more diluted (see SiS 15), which was totally unexpected; and further more, the size of the clumps depends on the history of dilution, making a mockery of the ‘laws of chemistry’.

Now, physicist Louis Rey in Lausanne, Switzerland, has published a paper in the mainstream journal, Physica A, describing experiments that suggest water does have a memory of molecules that have been diluted away, as can be demonstrated by a relatively new physical technique that measures thermoluminescence.

In this technique, the material is ‘activated’ by irradiation at low temperature, with UV, X-rays, electron beams, or other high-energy sub-atomic particles. This causes electrons to come loose from the atoms and molecules, creating ‘electron-hole pairs’ that become separated and trapped at different energy levels.

Then, when the irradiated material is warmed up, it releases the absorbed energy and the trapped electrons and holes come together and recombine. This causes the release of a characteristic glow of light, peaking at different temperatures depending on the magnitude of the separation between electron and hole.

As a general rule, the phenomenon is observed in crystals with an ordered arrangement of atoms and molecules, but it is also seen in disordered materials such as glasses. In this mechanism, imperfections in the atomic/molecular lattice are considered to be the sites at which luminescence appears.

Rey decided to use the technique to investigate water, starting with heavy water or deuterium oxide that’s been frozen into ice at a temperature of 77K. The absolute temperature scale (degree K, after Lord Kelvin) is used in science. (The zero degree K is equivalent to –273 C, and deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen which is twice as heavy as hydrogen).

As the ice warms up, a first peak of luminescence appears near 120K, and a second peak near 166 K. Heavy water gives a much stronger signal than water. In both cases, samples that were not irradiated gave no signals at all.

For both water and heavy water, the relative intensity of the thermoluminescence depends on the irradiation dose. There has been a suggestion that peak 2 comes from the hydrogen-bonded network within ice, whereas peak 1 comes from the individual molecules. This was confirmed by looking at a totally different material that is known to present strong hydrogen bonds, which showed a similar glow in the peak 2 region, but nothing in peak 1.

Rey then investigated what would happen when he dissolved some chemicals in the water and diluted it in steps of one hundred fold with vigorous stirring (as in the preparation of homeopathic remedies), until he reached a concentration of 10 to the power -30 g per centilitre, and compare that to the control that has not had any chemical dissolved in it and diluted in the same way.

The samples were frozen and activated with irradiation as usual.

Much to his surprise, when lithium chloride, LiCl, a chemical that would be expected to break hydrogen bonds between water molecules was added, and then diluted away, the thermoluminescent glow became reduced, but the reduction of peak 2 was greater relative to peak 1. Sodium chloride, NaCl, had the same effect albeit to a lesser degree.

It appears, therefore, that substances like LiCl and NaCl can modify the hydrogen-bonded network of water, and that this modification remains even when the molecules have been diluted away.

The fact that this ‘memory’ remains, in spite of, or because of vigorous stirring or shaking at successive dilutions, indicates that the ‘memory’ is by no means static, but depends on a dynamic process, perhaps a collective quantum excitation of water molecules that has a high degree of stability (see "The strangeness of water and homeopathic memory", SiS 15).

Source

Rey L. Thermoluminescence of ultra-high dilutions of lithium chloride and sodium chloride. Physica A 2003, 323, 67-74.

Living with the Fluid Genome

By Mae-Wan Ho, ISIS-TWN, London & Penang, ISBN: 0-9544923-0-7, 2003.

Inside story from a scientist who has warned that genetic engineering is both dangerous and futile. Tells you why the whole biotech enterprise - from GM crops to gene drugs and human cloning – is a phenomenal waste of public finance and scientific imagination, and what it means to be living with the fluid genome.

Soon to be on sale in bookstores, and still available from ISIS’ on-line bookstore

Details here.

Some words of mouth

"Probably the most disturbing book of recent times, on a par with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Opens the lid on the intellectual corruption of Western science." Noel Lynch, Green Member of the London Assembly, UK

"This book serves a need to describe the obvious to literate and astute masses! As educators, we need to critically analyse our failure to convey the fundamental biological insight of life as a continuum to our students." R.H. Richardson, Professor of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, USA

"A trenchant, lucid and thrilling account of how a multi-billion industry has been built on fraudulent concepts." Caroline Clarke, Concerned Citizens of Burnhams, UK

"An excellent scientific summary; explains in layperson’s language the differences between GM and non-GM DNA, the problems of GM, and how GM has come from a flawed, narrow, reductionist concept of a static genetic structure. It brings to life the reality of the fluid genome as part of the dynamic, integrated whole." Margaret Stronach, Friends of the Earth, Wokingham, UK

"Mae-Wan Ho is the tenacious champion of a heretical science that is fast-becoming the mainstream." Dr. Finn Bowring, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK

"An exposé of the risks of genetic engineering and a warning to developing countries that new technologies are not necessarily beneficial, appropriate or needed." Martin Khor, Director, Third World Network

"This enlightening book takes you through the theoretical and empirical evidence on why we must totally reject the creation of Frankenstein foods." Edward Goldsmith, Founding Editor of The Ecologist.

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