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Tracking Water Molecules Could Unlock Secrets

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the h-two-ohmygosh dept.

Technology 102

ScienceDaily is reporting that several new discoveries about the simple molecule of water have kicked off a surge in research that scientists believe could lead to solving some of the world's most tricky problems from agriculture to cancer. "Understanding how individual water molecules maneuver in a system to form fleeting tetrahedral structures and how changing physical conditions such as temperatures and pressures affect the amount of disorder each imparts on that system may help scientists understand why certain substances, like drugs used in chemotherapy, are soluble in water and why some are not. It could also help understand how this changing network of bonds and ordering of local tetrahedrality between water molecules changes the nature of protein folding and degradation. 'Understanding hydrophobicity, and how different conditions change it, is probably one of the most fundamental components in understanding how proteins fold in water and how different biomolecules remain stable in it,' says Kumar. 'And if we understand this, we will not only have a new way of thinking about physics and biology but also a new way to approach health and disease.'"

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102 comments

Oh they're all wet. (0, Redundant)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319448)

Well, someone had to say it.

You're a raging homosexual (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319580)

Well, someone had to say it

Physics anyone? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319460)

Wasn't the whole point of the whole quantum mechanics thingie that you cannot measure things this precise?

Re:Physics anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319598)

They are talking about molecules... Quantum mechanics is only in effect when considering things even smaller then atoms.

Re:Physics anyone? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31320506)

Quantum mechanics is only in effect when considering things even smaller then atoms.

And cats.

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

Smooth and Shiny (1097089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31323012)

So the cats can unlock the power of the quantums and stuff?

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31323870)

So the cats can unlock the power of the quantums and stuff?

Shroedinger's cat can. And can't.

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31324680)

Love them or hate them, cats are clearly the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe. Even down to the tiniest quantum particles, some sort of force acts on everything in the universe, apparently except cats. Every other atom in the entire realm of existence can be herded together via some sort of force; work out how to herd cats and the creator of the universe will halt everything, present himself before you and speaking in his booming, majestic voice :

"How the FUCK did you manage that?"

Re:Physics anyone? (4, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320708)

Quantum mechanics is only in effect when considering things even smaller then atoms.

No, as a fundamental law of physics quantum mechanics is always "in effect" - otherwise it would not be a fundamental law. Classical mechanics is just the approximation of quantum mechanics for incoherent states with very large quantum numbers, but it is still quantum mechanics. Of course it is also possible, perhaps even likely, that Quantum Mechanics itself may turn out to be an approximation of some more fundamental physics but if that is the case we haven't seen any evidence of it yet.....other than our annoying inability to come up with a working quantum theory of gravity.

Re:Physics anyone? (4, Funny)

skgrey (1412883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319612)

Ten points for bringing up quantum mechanics and measuring precision, negative a thousand points for referring to it as a "thingie".

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

bakawolf (1362361) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319794)

great, so you know how fast he's moving....

Re:Physics anyone? (5, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320270)

Indeed, on the quantum scale it's a "thingette" or "nanothing". Physicists are still arguing over the correct nomenclature.

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321304)

unless it changes flavors - then it might be a whatzit or wherezit.

Seriously though, from WIMPs and MACHOs, I wouldn't be shocked in the least if the next generations physics students are learning about thingies.

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321978)

Seriously though, from WIMPs and MACHOs, I wouldn't be shocked in the least if the next generations physics students are learning about thingies.

I sure hope so. Maybe then they'll actually start reproducing.

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

Nevynxxx (932175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322062)

And calling quark flavours, strange and charm in the 60s was better? Up and Down were bad enough Top and Bottom often get called Truth and Beauty. At least WIMP and MACHO mean something.....

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322402)

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with it, I just wouldn't be surprised.

Re:Physics anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31321938)

I know a really cute physics student I'd like to teach about thingies.

Re:Physics anyone? (2, Funny)

thomst (1640045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322466)

"And a bird, you cannot change". -- Yoda Skynard

"And this bird, change you cannot". -- Yoda Skynnard

Fixed that for you!

Re:Physics anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31325124)

Actually the term is Scuzzywumple. It got its name from a quote by Feynmn in a conversation he was having with with a German experimentalist colleague in which he was relating his many paths idea and went into a tangent about Langston Hughs and Dr Seus that ended in a rather hilarious anecdote involving a made up furry creature and the number of neck ties one could expect to find in California. Its sort of a famous story amongst physics types, as it is rather hilarious.

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319678)

Molecules are pretty huge in terms of quantum mechanics.

Re:Physics anyone? (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319702)

No. The point of quantum mechanics was the quantization, with all those little quanta (discrete particles). Hence the name. The uncertainty principle, moreover, has a numeric quantity behind it which describes exactly how much you can hope to measure in a specific measurement. The physics of hydrophobia/hydrophilia and molecular biology in the aggregate is quite discoverable.

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320072)

You pretend to know things. You should not.

A) TFS states that the they are looking at protein folding, which can hardly be viewed probabilistically for a macro-scale (ie "in the aggregate").
B) Quantum mechanics deals extensively with uncertainty through models of superposition, which include probability functions.

Re:Physics anyone? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321072)

You pretend to know things. You should not.

A) TFS states that the they are looking at protein folding, which can hardly be viewed probabilistically for a macro-scale (ie "in the aggregate").

Why not? I'm sure they are looking at many protein molecules, not just one. In fact any chemical reaction happens at the molecular level, but they are generally studied by looking at macroscopic properties of reactants and products. Protein folding is no different.

B) Quantum mechanics deals extensively with uncertainty through models of superposition, which include probability functions.

That's not quite correct. Probabilities don't come into the superposition part of it. Probabilities enter during measurement. In fact, one of the great unsolved mysteries of quantum mechanics is what exactly is a measurement?

Re:Physics anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330162)

Why not? I'm sure they are looking at many protein molecules, not just one. In fact any chemical reaction happens at the molecular level, but they are generally studied by looking at macroscopic properties of reactants and products. Protein folding is no different.

No. They are studying the folding of individual proteins. That is the entire point of the study. How does a single protein fold? We do not know yet. We want to understand the basic forces at work at the single-molecule layer. Any use of probabilistic approaches at the macro-level is therefore invalid, as you cannot observe intermediate states effectively for protein folding in a macro sense.
 
 

That's not quite correct. Probabilities don't come into the superposition part of it. Probabilities enter during measurement. In fact, one of the great unsolved mysteries of quantum mechanics is what exactly is a measurement?

No, the superposition is the simultaneous existence of all states, weighted by probability. You cannot draw a distinction between probability of state with probability of measurement. And no, measurement is merely allowing yourself to become superposed. This is widely accepted in the field. See Schrodinger's cat, and the implications of opening the box. It is one of the most popular examples of superposition, and is accurate when extended to the scientist in the box observing a living/dead cat. Oh, and it it is also a prime example of the cat being probabilistically dead based on the rate of decay of the isotope.

Re:Physics anyone? (4, Informative)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319716)

I'm not certain, but I suspect that this is an instance of a relatively new field called "mesoscale physics". This deals with systems on scales between the atomic or single molecule level and the thermodynamic level. Quantum effects are significant, but not as dominant as in atomic (and smaller) physics, but you don't have the advantage of having enough particles to use average statistical behaviour in place of a complete description (ie no thermodynamic limit). It is very very difficult, and it is only recently that we have the tools to begin tackling these sorts of problems. We had one faculty member working on this in my department, but she has recently departed for another university.

Futurama (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319994)

Wasn't the whole point of the whole quantum mechanics thingie that you cannot measure things this precise?

No Fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it.
- Prof Farnsworth, Futurama

The short version? (1)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319466)

So is he saying if we better understand why some things disolve in water (and particular interest, water in our blood stream) and why some don't we will better handle diseases?

Man. (0, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319480)

I fucking love living in "the future".

Re:Man. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319668)

I fucking love living in "the future".

Do you know why I only drink grain alcohol and rainwater, Mandrake?

Re:Man. (0, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320308)

Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

Re:Man. (1)

BlackSash (1420967) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329364)

Ahh if only more people knew of this little black-and-white gem of a movie...

Re:Man. (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321752)

I wish I could, but no matter how long I wait, it's always the present.

Ice 9 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319500)

Or they could unlock the secret of creating Ice 9.

We are all doomed!

The scientists then went on to create Ice Nine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319528)

And freeze all the worlds oceans. Kurt Vonnegut could not be reached for comment, because he is dead.

Hmm... (0, Flamebait)

roggg (1184871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319530)

Homeopathy FTW?

Re:Hmm... (4, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319642)

I'm sure someone will say it more seriously than you are, so let me just point out right away, the structures that the scientists are describing are fleeting, lasting for billionths of a second before breaking down and reforming with different water molecules. In short, even if the structure of these bonds could effect the body (and that's a big if), you'd have to deliver the water to the problem area within a billionth of a second for it to do anything.

Re:Hmm... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31321306)

The idea here is that if you understand the nitty-gritty details of how hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions work you could improve how we understand protein folding. Protein folding is an area of biochemistry with no really good models, because it's so complicated. I'm not sure these structures will do much to help us understand protein folding, but if they did it would increase biomedical understanding by a huge amount, as well as opening up possibilities in biocatalysis.

In short, even though the structures may not affect our bodies, the underlying principles affect our proteins' shape, which affects EVERYTHING in our bodies. (a mediocre analogy would be that counting doesn't affect our ability to use rockets, but understanding numbers/math makes a huge impact on our ability to make rockets)

Re:Hmm... (1)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31324214)

I'm not so sure about that. Protein folding is mostly a computational problem. Simplifying the computation is what will be needed to improve those models. Maybe this will help, but I'm not sure. It sounds like it might actually make the computation more complicated, which definitely won't help.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31324936)

No, the grand parent was correct. We understand very little about why proteins adopt the conformations they do. The best we do right now is essentially go through absurd amounts of combinatorics and find solutions which show the lowest free energy...as seen so far. Not the lowest, but the local minima which has been discovered. Look up Levinthal's paradox for more information, but we are simply take guesses as to what is somewhat possible and keep trying till the guesses seem reasonable.

Understanding more about protein's natural environment (mostly water and other proteins) could help us figure out why this psi angle is x and that phi angle is y.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31325886)

I don't disagree that we know little about protein folding. I'm just not so sure the findings in this paper help much. We can already model water as bulk solvent with varying properties--sometimes just a dielectric, other times with complex hydrodynamic properties. In the end, though, protein folding is a computational problem. We need better algorithms and/or models with fewer computational steps if we are going to further our understanding. Models that increase the number of computational steps (like this one) won't help much.

It may help us to understand other properties of water, though, such as the solubilities of non-ionic organic compounds and azeotropic effects of certain organic solvents.

Re:Hmm... (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321466)

I'm sure someone will say it more seriously than you are, so let me just point out right away, the structures that the scientists are describing are fleeting, lasting for billionths of a second before breaking down and reforming with different water molecules. In short, even if the structure of these bonds could effect the body (and that's a big if), you'd have to deliver the water to the problem area within a billionth of a second for it to do anything.

Yeah, but aren't we dealing with a pseudo-science that claims that solutions in the parts-per-trillion range (or less) are effective in treating everything from hair loss to athlete's foot? Once you've made that jump of logic, saying it happens in 10e-9 seconds is no big leap.

The funniest (and saddest) commentary on homeopathic "medicine" is on the box itself. I've seen several overpriced cure-alls that tout the fact that they are safe for children because they have "no side effects". Of *course* they have no side effects. They don't have any front, back, top, or bottom effects, either!

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31325190)

Dara O'Brain said, on homeopathy, something to the effect of 'No side effects, yeah, but you can fucking drown.'

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31320106)

Homeopathy FTEF

FTFY, HAND!

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31320364)

If by FTW, you mean a one part in a trillion tincture of win that follows the homeopathic principle dilution produces the opposite.

Finally a cure for DHMO poisoning (4, Funny)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319610)

Perhaps this might lead to finally finding a cure for http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html [dhmo.org]

Re:Finally a cure for DHMO poisoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319692)

No way. It will never happen.

Don't you know that the Oil Companies, Coal Companies, Tobacco Companies, and The Military Industrial Complex all use DHMO?

This will be buried for sure!

Worse yet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31320260)

I hear that some of that stuff is even leaking into our schools!

Wont someone PLEASE think of the children and get this stuff banned from schools and homes?

Re:Finally a cure for DHMO poisoning (4, Funny)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320362)

Don't you know that the Oil Companies, Coal Companies, Tobacco Companies, and The Military Industrial Complex all use DHMO?

That's nothing, I have it on good authority that DHMO has been used for years by the FBI, CIA, MOSSAD and of course the KGB.

Of course the conspiracy theorists will try to convince you that rampant DHMO usage stretches back to pre-history involving such figures as Leonardo da Vinci and the Templars and will even pull out Biblical quotations or try to convince you that NASA used it on all manned missions.

When will the madness end?

Re:Finally a cure for DHMO poisoning (2, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320706)

DHMO is nothing compared to the threat that is Oxygen Dihydride [ressuage-m...g-dpc.info] (PDF, info on page 3).

Re:Finally a cure for DHMO poisoning (1)

querky (1703040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31323894)

I've been addicted to DHMO for several years now, I'm trying to quit but the withdrawal symptoms are so intense. Can anyone direct me to a local DHMO addiction center? On a more serious note, did you know that over 99% of Americans have been addicted to DHMO atleast once in their life? It's a global problem and hundreds of millions of people suffer withdrawals on a daily basis.

Re:Finally a cure for DHMO poisoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31320150)

Perhaps this might lead to finally finding a cure for http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html [dhmo.org]

Mod Parent Up. This isn't "Funny".

My Grandfather, a Navy man of 23 years, died from overexposure of DHMO. They tried to remove it from his system; there was nothing that could be done.

I'll never forgive the government for making him work basically knee-deep in the stuff for the entire time he was in the service. It was almost inevitable.

Re:Finally a cure for DHMO poisoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31320730)

Jesus, some people use this in pools to keep the balance??

YES, AND LET'S JUST USE LAVA TO CLEANSE OUR SKIN.

Water structure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319690)

Well, on its 125th anniversary Science Magazine listed "What is the structure of water?" as one of the 100 questions that will keep scientists busy this century.

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5731/78b

Simple as it might seem, water is one of the most complex fluids, because of the long range order created by hydrogen bonds.

Trust me. I am betting 5 years of f*ck*ng PhD work on water structure and dynamics.

Re:Water structure (4, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320932)

Simple as it might seem, water is one of the most complex fluids, because of the long range order created by hydrogen bonds.

Hear hear.

Back in the '60s when I was taking chemistry there was much talk about how @$^%ing complex the behavior of water was, how major breakthroughs were needed to really understand it, how it affected so many other things in chemistry, how you have to understand not just the individual molecules but the interactions of many of them with each other and other molecules, yadda yadda. Expectation was that really understanding water would occur late in the reduction of chemistry to something that could be (near-)fully modeled and predicted.

Then supercomputers came along and we started to get good solutions for a lot of stuff. Complex mechanical loading. Nuclear and subatomic physics. The utterly anti-intuitive science of aerodynamics. Brute-force correct solutions to video synthesis replacing cute tricks that dripped with artifacts. Weather prediction (pushing out near the newly-understood chaos limit of the input measurements). Then they were surpassed by more powerful supercomputers formed of networks of machines for parallelizable tasks. Even digital cryptanalysis and protein folding began to be tractable.

But it is only now, as cheap supercomputing capability is in the hands of individuals (in the forms of graphic processing units that became cheap commodities due to their utility for computer gaming), that we're starting to see breakthroughs in understanding the behavior of water.

Sounds like it's right on track.

Re:Water structure (1)

agbinfo (186523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322480)

So what you're saying is that if it's not porn that drives technology, it's video gaming?

Re:Water structure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31325430)

Is it more complex than, say, ammonia? Ethanol?

The Cancer card... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319732)

When in search of funding, linking your research to cures for cancer increases your odds of funding approval.

Re:The Cancer card... (1)

robotkid (681905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31323874)

When in search of funding, linking your research to cures for cancer increases your odds of funding approval.

If you RTFJA (journal article) the authors make no claim of applicability to cancer research. That's just a weird tack that a misguided science journalist at Science Daily decided to take with it. Many, many people have been studying water using similar methods for decades. "So how will this cure cancer ?"

" Um, . . we're simulating the structure of supercritical water and. . "

"Does cancer have water?"

"Well, yes, but. . ."

"Got it, you're curing cancer! Awesome"

Cat's Cradle (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31319736)

Has anyone mentioned ice-9 yet?

That could solve a few problems.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319800)

Understanding complex issue X can increase our ability to cure cancer and HIV, thereby making X-research eligible for the ocean of cancer-related research funding. /Mister Cynical

Re:In other news (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321016)

Understanding complex issue X can increase our ability to cure cancer and HIV, thereby making X-research eligible for the ocean of cancer-related research funding. /Mister Cynical

The claim is that understanding THIS is a significant component of understanding the behavior of the molecular machinery of which cells, cancers, and anything that can affect them are composed.

If that's correct, making it eligible for such funding may be appropriate.

Sometimes self-interest and truth point in the same direction.

Stevia + Water = Pure H2O = The Cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31319844)

It's like this, the evidence for stevia keeps piling up. Farrah's PhD confirmed it, now its getting validated everywhere. Trust and believe. If you're not on the stevia bandwagon yet? Basically, you mix stevia and water in a blender, ok, this creates a soap of all that toxic shit, ok, and you get that out through cold fission, ok. All provable. Now you're left with what I like to call Pure H20, the cure for the human body. Oh for sure, homeboy. If you think, ok, that i'm 40 years old, and I couldn't explode you? With hands? lol. You're living in fantasy mang. And it's like this, ok, the surge of interest in water is all part of the stevia revolution and you better be on that train when it comes, cause I'm gonna pay it forward and others will too.

The Abyss? (1)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320058)

We could save ourselves some time and just ask the sea creatures at the bottom of the ocean how they do it.

Re:The Abyss? (2, Funny)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320388)

We could save ourselves some time and just ask the sea creatures at the bottom of the ocean how they do it.

Deep sea creatures do it under pressure [wikipedia.org] .

Please (3, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320088)

...could lead to solving some of the world's most tricky problems from agriculture to cancer.
 
Please please PR people, come with something more original next time. The solving cancer thing is so old, nobody believes that anymore. And I never knew agriculture was a problem.

Re:Please (3, Informative)

rodarson2k (1122767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320486)

It also bears mention that when you're making nonsensical claims about things that you fix, you are supposed to choose "from A to Z", not "from A to C". Even if cancer is more widely feared than zoonotic disease.

Biological processes depend on temperature... (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320096)

Since biological processes (and I mean all of them from the molecule level to the baby-making level) depend on temperature, it is obvious that knowing how water works at this molecular level can in fact solve many variability in medicine.

If you think about it... our body maintains itself at a constant temperature as much as possible... there's a reason for that... for the biological processes within the body to react efficiently.

This can lead to different types of medicines that are most effective at certain temperatures.

Funding needed for research on ... (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320128)

... the behavior of H2O - C2H5OH solutions. Please expedite. I'm making a run for supplies ASAP.

Study was peer-reviewed by Harold (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320138)

"Understanding hydrophobicity, and how different conditions change it, is probably one of the most fundamental components in understanding how proteins fold in water and how different biomolecules remain stable in it," says Kumar.

When asked by a reporter, Kumar said the idea came to him while hitting the bong.

Oh ya, and then there's this. (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320296)

We need more grant money or we'll have to get real jobs.

Re:Oh ya, and then there's this. (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320490)

Yeah. Fuck "research" about "diseases" or whatever. What we need is more baristas at Starbucks. I actually had to wait last time.

maybe they'll rediscover "polywater" (2, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320448)

Polywater [wikipedia.org] was the "cold fusion" of the 1960s. There is a new age fad called structured water [greenplanetparadise.com] too.

Polywater (1, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320580)

What I find interesting is that this opens up at least the possibility of that old sci-fi standby (really old - I haven't seen a reference to it in modern sci-fi) of polywater.

Polywater is supposed to be one of those "unobtaniums", theoretically impossible - but then again, bees have been "proven" not to be able to fly.

Re:Polywater (2, Informative)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321846)

bees have been "proven" not to be able to fly

Well, not exactly. [paghat.com]

Re:Polywater (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31326632)

bees have been "proven" not to be able to fly

Well, not exactly.

Why do you think it put "proven" in quotes? Because " I " like " using " quote " characters " or " s"o"m"e"t"h"i"n"g" """?

I know, you're just bugging me, right :-)

I knew that when I brought up polywater, I'd get a mini-tsunami.

Re:Polywater (1)

maestroX (1061960) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322158)

What I find interesting is that this opens up at least the possibility of that old sci-fi standby (really old - I haven't seen a reference to it in modern sci-fi) of polywater.

Polywater is so last century ... cat food [wikipedia.org] is the future!

Re:Polywater (2, Informative)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322398)

Polywater is supposed to be one of those "unobtaniums", theoretically impossible - but then again, bees have been "proven" not to be able to fly.

People like you make my head hurt.

It's just mind-boggling to me that such an obvious and completely asinine urban legend is STILL being repeated some 70 years after it was first invented. I can understand young children repeating everything they're told ... but judging by your user number, you're probably older than I am. Stop and think before you speak!

What I find interesting is that this opens up at least the possibility of that old sci-fi standby (really old - I haven't seen a reference to it in modern sci-fi) of polywater.

No, it doesn't. As Feynman said, if pollywater were possible, we'd have an animal that doesn't eat. It would just drink normal water and excrete polywater, living off of the energy released in the process.

Re:Polywater (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31326776)

but then again, bees have been "proven" not to be able to fly.

People like you make my head hurt. It's just mind-boggling to me that such an obvious and completely asinine urban legend is STILL being repeated some 70 years after it was first invented. I can understand young children repeating everything they're told ... but judging by your user number, you're probably older than I am. Stop and think before you speak!

Why do you think I put "proven" in quotes? Trying to score cheap points by demonstrating the reading skills of a 2nd-grader is not cool. (see, I can play the insult game too).

What I find interesting is that this opens up at least the possibility of that old sci-fi standby (really old - I haven't seen a reference to it in modern sci-fi) of polywater.

No, it doesn't. As Feynman said, if pollywater were possible, we'd have an animal that doesn't eat. It would just drink normal water and excrete polywater, living off of the energy released in the process.

Wrong on two counts, but nice to see you can stupidly parrot wikipedia.

1. Animals eat for more than just energy.

2. People used to think that solids could only shrink when compressed. We now have solids that expand under pressure. Things change as our understanding of the universe changes.

3. Again, according to yours (and Feynmans) beliefs, I should be okay to eat gasoline - after all, it's got more energy than the salad I had at supper. Carbo-hydrates, hydro-carbons, what's the diff ... but it doesn't work that way.

4. Feynman also believes there's only one electron, one proton, and one neutron in the whole universe, and they cycle back and forth in time - we see a cross-section of those multiple paths as our current universe. Do you buy that too?

5. One word: Catalysts. Meditate on it. NO, don't start now ... meditate on it. For at least a week.

Look, all rancor aside (because after all, you DID start it), we spend too much time saying why something is "umpossible", and not enough asking how we can make it possible. Progress doesn't happen by accepting the status quo, whether it's in the "textus receptus" of science or society. Would polywater be awesome? Yes. So instead of coming up with a million reasons why it can't possibly exist, why not ask "why not?"

Progress is made only by the "why not" crowd. Why not free the slaves? Why not abandon feudalism? Why not give women the vote (personally, I think that if anyone should have the vote taken away from them, it's men - they think with the wrong head - the one that's too small for any brains) Why not allow same-sex marriage? Why not have heavier-than-air flight? Why not travel faster than sound? Why not go to the moon? Why not network all these computers together? Why not try to sell computers to people instead of just jigamongous corporations? Why not try yet another filament even though the first 1000 didn't result in a practical light bulb? Why not try to make this piece of code better, even though it's already "sort of good enough"?

Look at your own personal life. Hasn't the most progress been made, or you achieved the most, when you decided that you would do something anyway, even though you could easily justify shirking the opportunity?

Why not polywater? Even if it's just for the lulz?

Re:Polywater (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31327384)

Why do you think I put "proven" in quotes?

I dunno - 'cos lots of morons misuse quotation marks?

Animals eat for more than just energy.

Yeah, that's OBVIOUSLY because they don't have Magic-Water (tm). Sheesh. Don't you know anything?

People used to think that solids could only shrink when compressed. We now have solids that expand under pressure. Things change as our understanding of the universe changes.

Yeah, that's the standard woo-woo response, so I'll ignore it.

Again, according to yours (and Feynmans) beliefs, I should be okay to eat gasoline - after all, it's got more energy than the salad I had at supper.

Obviously you have no idea what either I of Feynman were saying. I don't give a shit what YOU eat for supper - the fact of the matter is that, since oil is a source of energy, there should be species out there which can eat oil. And guess what: THERE ARE.

Feynman also believes there's only one electron, one proton, and one neutron in the whole universe, and they cycle back and forth in time - we see a cross-section of those multiple paths as our current universe. Do you buy that too?

Feynman is dead, so I very much doubt that he believes anything. I'm not going to address some jackasses perceptions of the supposed beliefs of a man who can no longer defend himself.

One word: Catalysts. Meditate on it. NO, don't start now ... meditate on it. For at least a week.

Those of us with an IQ over 70 prefer to actually research, think, analyze, and experiment. We leave the "meditation" to the micro-cephalics.

Enjoy!

Why not polywater? Even if it's just for the lulz?

Why not jump off the empire state building buck-ass-naked, and fly? Even if it's just for the lulz?

Well? Why not?

I'll be waiting at the bottom. I hope you'll sign an autograph for me!

Re:Polywater (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329962)

What a moron.

Re:Polywater (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331032)

Coming from a twit who's trying to convince me that magical water can solve our energy issues? Heh. What can I say. Thanks? Don't forget to tip your homeopath!

Re:Polywater (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 4 years ago | (#31323744)

What I find interesting is that this opens up at least the possibility of that old sci-fi standby (really old - I haven't seen a reference to it in modern sci-fi) of polywater.

How?

Polywater is supposed to be one of those "unobtaniums", theoretically impossible - but then again, bees have been "proven" not to be able to fly.

Do you even know the story about Polywater. It's not a theoretical anything. The idea came about because of shoddy experiments that introduced contamination. It really does boggle the mind how stupid ideas can persist in peoples minds and continue to be regurgitated.

Read about it [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Polywater (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31326814)

Those who don't know history are doomed to misquote it from wikipedia.

Polywater was a plot device in a "golden-age" science fiction story. That's WAY before the first use mentioned in the wiki.

Where do you think they stole the term from?

It did not, as the wiki claims, originally come from shoddy experiments. The original story had a scientist polymerize water, which was great - until it started polymerizing all the water it came into contact with. This story predates, and also foreshadows, modern-day nanotech "grey goo" stories.

Col Ripper was right! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31320722)

They are tampering with our precious bodily fluids!

The top priority should be....... (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321254)

To use this research for water and wastewater treatment, the basis for civilization. For instance, chlorine is used to disinfect water but is not 100% effective. Chlorine leaves behind disinfection by-products which are a common cause of taste and odor problems in municipal water supplies. The EPA says there must be a chlorine residual of 5mg/L at the farthest point in the distribution system. Chlorine combines with many organic molecules to form carcinogens, (chloramines). Chlorine is not needed after it leaves the distribution system. There really needs to be an effective and economical alternative! If chlorine is used to kill organisms then why are we drinking it? Also, there are many organisms that survive the treatment process whether they are immune to chlorine or not. These organisms form colonies in the distribution system and feed off of each others wastes and have to be removed by stuffing a foam bullet down a supply line. Then there's also the issue of sediments contaminating your water from the iron and copper pipes which distribute it. Also, look at the corrosion of your hot water pipes. This is because the lime used to treat water falls out of suspension at warmer temperatures, but is still suspended in the cold water you drink. Wastewater treatment is a tricky business that we largely depend on microbes to do the dirty work. This process has to be closely monitored since what is in the wastewater is never constant unless you are treating industrial wastewater. A good portion of industrial, medical and food processing outfits are fined for the wastes they produce, but only pass that cost on to the consumer. Hopefully one day there will be a method effectively and economically discriminate contaminants at any point of discharge, whether wastewater or at the tap. Until then, waste the first 30 seconds of water from your tap or at least until the chlorine smell goes away.

Who vets these articles??? (5, Insightful)

TeethWhitener (1625259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321268)

Seriously, how did this get on the front page? I suppose it's an interesting article, to theoretical chemists, but that's about it. Here's [pnas.org] the paper from PNAS (heh).

You may notice a few things if you read it. First, it's an MD (molecular dynamics) simulation. Read: classical equations of motion with an empirically-derived force field (just to head off the quantum gibberish). Second, you'll notice that the paper doesn't mention anything about agriculture or cancer (or much in between), but instead seems to focus on topics as vital to our way of life as orientational entropy and the Widom temperature of water. Third, if you read the last few paragraphs (if you can make it that far), you'll see that a referee brought to the authors' attention that the work presented in their paper had essentially already been done about 15 years ago. Fourth, and perhaps most telling, is that this study is published in PNAS. This journal has an interesting quirk in that if you're a member of the Academy, you get to choose who referees your paper. Trust me, I've seen first-hand how some ancient Academy members use this policy to publish some serious garbage in that journal.

Now I'm not saying that Kumar et al's paper is not an important contribution to the field of theoretical water chemistry. I am, however, saying that it's not nearly interesting enough to be on the front page of Slashdot. Not sure why ScienceDaily picked it up either. I keep telling myself that when I have time, I'm going to start a lit review blog in this field so that the general (geeky) public has a little better handle on the stuff going on in physical chemistry that's actually interesting. Well see if it ever happens.

Re:Who vets these articles??? (1)

robotkid (681905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31323972)

Mod parent up. IAACBP (I am a computational Bio-Physicist) and although I find this paper interesting, why Science Daily chose to feature this particular PNAS paper is not readily apparent to me. Even with its quirks (indeed, the paper was direct submitted by the last author, a PNAS member, and therefore did not undergo the standard peer review process as hinted by the parent) there are many, many other neat findings in PNAS that would have made much more interesting subjects for a sciencedaily article, without having to make over-reaching statements about applicability to curing cancer.

Re:Who vets these articles??? (2, Interesting)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31324354)

Seriously, how did this get on the front page?

It's because a lot of people really want to believe in homeopathic medicine, even though it completely contradicts most of our current scientific models. If there is any possibility that "water has memory" people will jump on it....

Re:Who vets these articles??? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#31324446)

Agree with you on PNAS - they're generally considered a top-tier journal with the exception of anything written by NAS members. So, the irony is that the articles written by no-names in that journal are often the better ones. That isn't to say that NAS members can't write good stuff - only that skipping the review stage allows them not to in some cases.

That said, water structure is an interesting topic. I had a professor in college going back 15 years that was doing work in this area. The college didn't have a lot of funding so the methods were fairly classical. If you look at the properties of simple compounds that have a mix of hydophilic and hydrophobic character you'll find that they behave as if their size in solution is much larger than you'd otherwise expect. This is because the water molecules surrounding the hydrophobic regions become ordered and contribute to the apparent size of the molecule. A simple viscosity measurement will demonstrate this fairly well.

Now, just measuring viscosity doesn't tell you exactly what is happening at the molecular level, but it does go to show you that you can do fairly advanced work without a $10M grant. Moderately more expensive techniques can generate more experimental constraints, and it sounds like modelling is getting to the point where perhaps we can use those constraints to make some models.

For a more direct look at this sort of thing I once heard a talk by a guy who was immersing protein crystals in organic solvents. This would actually stabilize loosely-bound water molecules associated with the protein so that you could detect them in an X-Ray crystal structure (sometimes 2 layers deep). The obvious downside is that this really isn't observing the system under normal conditions. Crystallography is a lot more expensive than a viscometer, but it still is a relatively cheap field.

tetra = 5? (1)

v.dog (1093949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321652)

every water molecule fleetingly interacts with its four nearest neighbors, forming a tetrahedron

So that's why I haven't cured cancer yet- I didn't realized the tetrahedrons in water need to have five points!

Re:tetra = 5? (1)

Frenchman113 (893369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321884)

The tetrahedron has a center, dumbass.

Re:tetra = 5? (1)

robotkid (681905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31323784)

every water molecule fleetingly interacts with its four nearest neighbors, forming a tetrahedron

So that's why I haven't cured cancer yet- I didn't realized the tetrahedrons in water need to have five points!

The water model consists of 5 points. You could think of it as one for each of the (2) hydrogens, one for the oxygen, and two for the lone pairs that cause water to be V-shaped instead of linear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_model#5-site [wikipedia.org]

Wow, I bet the Homeopathy people will invest (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321874)

Why they must deeply desire to understand what water does, right? Unless of course they know their 'science' is bogus.

I knew Vonnegut knew more than he was letting on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31322934)

This is Ice-9! We're doomed!

There were clues... (1)

meburke (736645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31324300)

I struggled through the article (I'm not a physicist although I studied lots of Physics 35 years ago), and realized I was able to understand it because I twice struggled through reading R. Buckminster Fuller's, "Synergetics" Vols I and II. His key point on systems practically begins with a tetrahedron http://www.rwgrayprojects.com/synergetics/s04/p0100.html#402.00 [rwgrayprojects.com] , but his description of close-packing atoms and molecules is pretty vivid.

(Anyone trying to visit the site above: Do not be discouraged. It is full of totally interesting concepts and well-worth the effort. It helps to have a reading method such as described in Mortimer Adler's, "How to read a Book", http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Book-Touchstone-book/dp/0671212095 [amazon.com] which is also worth the effort.)

False statement in TFA (1)

NCatron (103418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31324532)

"...to improving chemotherapy drugs whose side effects arise from their solubility or insolubility in water."

This is absolutely not true. The side effect is inherent to the molecular structure of the molecule, not its solubility or lack thereof. (If it's insoluble it doesn't get into the body, and hence doesn't have a side effect... but then it has no effect at all.)

Duplicate (1)

redGiraffe (189625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31327122)

This article on Homeopathy was posted last week, who was checking submissions?

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