Monthly Archives: January 2005

Does Water Remember?

Friends,

        Let me ask you a question:Take a bucket of water. Put a spoonfull of sugar in it. Mix thoroughly. Now take another bucket of water. Take a spoon of the sweetened water from the first bucket and mix in the new bucket( call this solution 2p). Now take another bucket of plain water.

And put a spoonful of the 2p solution and put this in the new bucket. Keep repeating this: keep taking a spoonfull of the diluted mixture and mix it in a new bucket full of water. After 20 such repeated dilutions do you think the water in the 20th bucket is sweet? “Certainly not!” I can hear you say. But there are people who believe that the water will remain sweet even after 20 such repeated-successive dilutions. These people believe in Homeopathy!

       Homeopathy is based on two principles:

 

1) Like cures like: If a substance can produce an symptom similar to a disease then it can be used to cure the disease itself.

 

2) Law of Infinitesimals: If you dilute a substance with water or sugar to infinitely small quantities  it will work even better than the orignal substance. The more diluted the substance the better its healing powers.

            There are two sorts of dilutions that are in common use in Homeopathy: X and C. In a X dilution you mix one part of substance in 9 parts of water. Then you shake violently. To make a 10X dilution you will repeat this process 10 times, each time taking one part of the mixture and mixing in 9 parts of water. So in a 30 X solution the above process has been performed 30 times. In a C dilution you take one part of substance and ,mix in 99 parts of water and so on. Most homeopathic drugs come in 30X dilutions or more. More “powerful” drugs come with as much as 30C dilutions. A 30 X dilution means that the orignal substance has been diluted 1000000000000000000000000000000 times! This mixture is SO dilute that if you were to drink a cup full of this there is almost NIL probability that it would contain a molecule of the orignal “curing” agent. It is just water!!!!

          And the homeopathy people know that there may not be any molecule of the curing agent in the drug you take. So how do they explain their “science”? They say that water has a memory! Water remembers the substance that it was once in contact with! So the water molecules remember the molecules that they touched and retain the healing powers of the curing agent. So more you dilute it and shake vigorously the more it remembers the orignal curing agent.  (Homeopathy people lay a lot of stress on diluting and shaking vigorously). The shaking vigorously is to help the curing agent molecules hit as many water molecules as possible!

          Any person who has studied any science will tell you that all this is nonsense. And that is why Modern Science does not believe in Homeopathy. And that is why VERITAS does not believe in homeopathy.

This article was inspired by a beautiful program that I saw in BBC’s Horizon series. In this program the well known sceptic James Randi offers a million dollars to anyone who can show that homeopathy works( The prize still being offered. Want to try?). The Horizon team decides to try. The experiment takes places in the labs of the Royal Society of Sciences. It is carefully monitored. After a long trial with plain water samples and medicinal samples diluted to homeopathic levels it was shown that both have the same ( NIL) effects on blood samples. So a homeopathic drug is just the same as water! Lots of other controlled experiments have been conducted and they all lead to the same conclusion: water does not remember and that homeopathy is nonsense.

         Then why do some people get cured by homeopathy? Medicine knows that faith( or mind) is a healer( the placebo effect). So if you get cured with Homeopathy then that is just the placebo effect at work. Modern Medicine ( the real one ) can be marketed only if it shows an effect  beyond the placebo effect. But if you still have faith in homeopathy then please continue with it. I am sure it will have no side effect on you!

 Kanwar

 

|======================================================|

  Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:                 

  Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:                 

  Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,                          

  Correct old time and regulate the Sun;                             

|======================================================|

 

Celebrations in 2005

 

Friends,

  Do you know that UNO has declared 2005 as the “World Year of Physics”?

This is to mark the 100th anniversary of a set of revolutions that shook the foundations of Physics and led to a complete change in man’s understanding of nature. Physics after 1905 would never be the same again.

It would be deeper, stranger and so much more beautiful. In 2005 the world will celebrate the revolution that took place in a small patent office in Switzerland in 1905. The revolution that was brought about by a clerk. The clerk who everyone later would recognize as a giant of intellect. The towering figure of Science-Albert Einstein. In today’s VERITAS we will recall that revolutionary year.

   In 1905 Einstein was a 26 year old patent office clerk in  Switzerland. He had barely passed his exams a few years back. In 1901 UNiversity of Zurich had rejected his doctoral thesis. He had difficulties finding a job as a Physics teacher. So he had joined the patent office. Einstein studied Physics in his spare time that he got from his office work and his family( Einstein was married and had a son at that time). He had access to very little Physics literature( the patent office library was strong in engineering but weak in Physics). Einstein wrote 4 papers that year. Any one of these could have ensured his name in textbooks. But they went much further. They revolutionized man’s view of nature. Only once before in human history had one year brought such a huge revolution in human thought: In 1666 Newton was confined to his country home to escape the plague. And he produced the basis of calculus, law of gravity and the theory of colours. 1666 was Newton’s “annus mirablis”( year of miracle). 1905 was Einstein’s “annus mirablis”.

      Lets take a look at the four papers of 1905:

1) “On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning Production and Transformation of Light”: In this paper Einstein solved the photoelectric effect. He applied Plank’s quanta to light. He showed that if we assume that light is quantized (consists of discrete bundles) then we can understand how light can bump off electrons to produce current. This idea would later pave the way to Quantum Mechanics and the dance of probabilities that Einstein himself hated. This paper would win him the Nobel Prize in 1922.

2) “On the motion of small particles suspended in liquids at rest…”: In this paper Einstein explained Brownian Motion( how particles suspended in a liquid randomly bump into each other). This was an important contribution to statistical Physics.

3) “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”: This is the special theory of relativity paper. This was the greatest of the four that Einstein wrote that year. What can I say about this? I cannot explain it in 2-3 lines. I can only say that when I first read about relativity when I was a school kid it seemed to be the most romantic subject. Constancy of light, the fact that electricity and magnetism are one, simultaniety, moving frames of reference, twin paradox, the oneness of space and time: it is soooooo beautiful. Anyone who wants to live life fully cannot be ignorant of this theory.

4) “A new determination of molecular dimensions” : This measured the speed of diffusion. We must remember that atoms were still a controversial subject in those days. Einstein tried to show that atoms of a definite size exist.

       So the two pillars of modern Physics: Quantum Mechanics and Relativity were born(in a sense) in 1905. Relativity was expanded in 1915 to form a new theory of gravity( The General Theory of Relativity). Quantum machanics took its own road : Quantum Field Theory, Nuclear Physics, Particle Physics, Quantum Chromodynamics.

      But everything that is beautiful has a tragic component as well. The beautiful march of Physics from 1905 onward has a tragedy associated with it as well. The two theories born that year dont meet each other: Quantum Mechanics and Relativity( actually General Relativity) are inconsistent with each other. Perhaps a new revolution is needed to unite them.

        In 2005 the world will celebrate and remember that year of revolution.

        “To Einstein, hair and violin

         we give our final nod.

        Though understood by only two people:

        Himself and sometimes God”

Kanwar

 

|======================================================|

  Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:                 

  Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:                 

  Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,                          

  Correct old time and regulate the Sun;                             

|======================================================|