I recently came across a review paper that shows a considerable amount, of progress in the last decade or so, in the understanding of the structure of liquids. That paper “The Structure of Liquid Water; Novel Insights from Materials Research; Potential Relevance to Homeopathy” constitutes a comprehensive review of work in the field. The authors, Rustum Roy, W.A. Tiller, Iris Bell and M.R. Hoover, are not lightweights in the science field, though many mainstreamers are likely to find fault, not least because the thrust of the paper and the evidence contained, referred to, therein, is diametrically opposite to what the mainstream wish to hear.
As the authors point out, the term structure is used in the materials science sense, to designate the three dimensional arrangement of atoms, or molecules, not the structure of s single molecule, or oligomer, as used in chemistry.
The structure of water is due not to just the well known hydrogen bonds but van der Waals bonds between and among the various oligomeric (cluster) structural units.
X-ray diffraction (XRD) is extremely useful for crystal structures but of no use for liquids. Currently, the only effective investigative tool for non-crystalline solids, such as glass structures, directly but only partially, is transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and this cannot be used easily, directly, on liquid structures. These difficulties have lead many scientists to hold the naïve view that all liquids, like most crystalline matter, are, broadly, completely homogenous structures down to the unit cell, atomic, or crystalline level and that they exhibit structural characteristics in line with the random network model, one of the two models developed in the 1930s for glasses.
Zachariasen’s 1932 model for the structure of glass was arrived at by model fitting to X-ray scattering but is based on no direct data from other methods. Even so it has dominated thinking in physics and chemistry ever since. I recall such diagrams from the time of my Master of Technology Degree, in Non-Metallic Materials, at Brunel University during the 1970s.
Opposed to Zachariasen’s model of a homogonous structure, was the early “crystallite” theory, which also brings back memories. That model posited that small 5-50 Ao fragments of various crystalline structures floated in a “monomeric sea”.
Between the 1930 and 1980s the concept of a homogeneous (random-network), or heterogeneous (crystallite) structure for glass (frozen liquids) was reconsidered at various times. Transition electron microscopy (TEM) rather than X-ray diffraction (XRD) produced definitive relevant data in common boro- and alumino-silicate glasses, which showed a heterogeneous nano-structure of very many transparent glasses which have even 2 or 4 separate phases; a phase is defined as a region of characteristic structure, or composition separated by a surface.
The whole of the glass-ceramic industry depends on this incipient nanoheterogeneity, or actual phase separation in glass, for its existence. The existence and the high probability of nano-heterogeneity in most strongly bonded glass and liquid structures are now established as the “standard model”.
After surveying experimental data and the resulting thinking about glass and liquid structures over the last several deacedes, Roy, et al, conclude that the actual expereiental data on the structrue of many glasses and liquids can be summarised as follows:
a) The ubiquity of nanoscale heterogeneity in the structure of many covalently bonded liquids
b) That such heterogeneity on the nanometer scale is the rule rather than the exception for the structure of all strongly bonded liquids (i.e. principally excepting ionic and metallic melts)
The Structure of Water
Roy, et al, wrote their paper in the “language” of materials science. However, they found that, via some 17 million hits on Google for “structure of water”, materials scientists have rarely studied what is an extremely common material. The vast majority of papers on the “structure of water”, in the chemical and biomedical literature, started and, most often, ended with statements and claims about what molecules exist in water on the basis of particular, increasingly specialised tools, with the prominence of hydrogen bonding in the molecules rarely being commented on.
Roy, et al, cite a prodigious work, a website by Martin Chaplin of South Bank University, London. As they say, it is an enormous, complex and well organised review of the entire field of water structure and related fields, like homeopathy, the treatment of the latter being unusual in that it is scientific, balanced and fair minded. The ambiguity in the chemical literature on the structure of water is well illustrated by the collected illustrations of that structure, as conceived, proposed, deduced.
What comes out of all of this is that water, along with other liquids, has a structure, in the materials science sense, that can store information and have information impressed in it by means of epitaxy (shape), pressure generation, electrically, magnetically, etc., and that information can be retained.
In their conclusion, Roy, et al, point out the key role of the nano-heterogeneity of liquid water and the resulting ease of change of structure. They go on to say that the understanding and mental images of the structure of water have been radically distorted in the minds of most scientists and, thence, the medical community. Liquid water (OH2) like its remarkably similar analogue SiO2, is not a homogenous structure at the molecular level. It is a dynamic equilibrium among changing percentages of assemblages of different oligomers. The structure, architecture, and these assemblages, or units, themselves are dependent on temperature, hence it’s many anomalous property temperature relationships, as well as on pressure and on composition. As a result the structure is more responsive to composition of low level solutes, to magnetic fields and to “subtle energies”.
There is an extreme structural flexibility that predisposes the water to change by both epitaxy and succussion, the latter introducing the possibility of a stable nano-air bubble colloid.
The latter factors provide a theoretical feasibility for, as the authors put it, “the robust outcomes data of dozens of researchers in the homeopathic field, who have reached more or less similar conclusion by other routes”.
To quote the following paragraph directly:
“The connection of the imprinting, via succussion and possible epitaxy, of the different specific homeopathic remedies on the structure of water eliminates the primitive criticism of homeopathy being untenable due to the absence of any remnant of the molecules. Structures change properties vastly more easily and dramatically than chemistry changes them. Beyond the homeopathic field, such an enormous structural pliability also provides a plausible framework for the claims of the most reliable workers in the field of “subtle energies” to be able to change the structure and properties of water.”
Also, in the words of the paper, relating to homeopathy, with which I have to agree:
“The central thrust of this paper, which has presented an argument which nullifies the simpleminded argument of ‘zero concentration of solute, hence no possible effect,’ is that it is structure NOT composition which ahs the effect.”
As Roy, et al, say, their paper outlines testable hypotheses about the ability to alter the structure of water in the ultra-dilute regime, though epitaxy, coupled with succussion (vigorous shaking) generating pressure and nano-bubbles leading to properties markedly different than those of untreated water.