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Water + Salt + Energy = Clean!

chrisd posted more than 11 years ago | from the don't-know-that-I'd-drink-it dept.

374

codesmith.ca writes "CTV News is reporting about a device built at the Russian Institute for Medical Engineering that can convert standard water and salt into an antimicrobial solution. Apparently it's works on almost anything (virii, bacteria, cysts...) and it's safe for human consumption to boot. I can't find a site for the institute, but there are articles around. This one is fairly detailed, but hard to reach. Here's the Google cache. Here's one about a paper shows it's not exactly super-new technology." Any chemist care to comment on what sounds to be too good to be true?

cancel ×

374 comments

i think we know where this is going (2)

r00tarded (553054) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181919)

val kilmer shows up and proves it to be a hoax.

Re:i think we know where this is going (1)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181987)

That's going to bug me now because I can't remember the name of that movie. Somebody, what was it?

Re:i think we know where this is going (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181997)

That was The Saint [imdb.com] , a Nokia and Volvo-sponsored competition to the Ericsson and BMW-sponsored James Bond, a remake of a 60's series of the same name [imdb.com] . I heard rumours about a sequel, I wonder if it would be true. In any case, the TV series seemed a lot cooler, the guy had more mystery.

Re:i think we know where this is going (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182103)

From: Fruit of Isloom (fruitofisloom@hotmail.com) Subject: why didn't obi wan vanish when struck with doodu's saber?
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films, rec.arts.movies.current-films, rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, alt.fan.starwars Date: 2002-09-01 01:14:51 PST

remember in star wars, we learn that jedis vanish into the air when they die. when yoda croaked, he just faded away too, like general mccarthur. now why didn't this happen with gi kong guin in phantom menace? and why didn't it happen with jedis who fell fighting the droids? and why didn't it happen to obi when doodu hit him with the laser sword?

does a jedi have to an old man to go puff in the air when struck by light saber?

Message 2 in thread From: Sandman (mr@sandman.net) Subject: Re: why didn't obi wan vanish when struck with doodu's saber?
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films, rec.arts.movies.current-films, rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, alt.fan.starwars Date: 2002-09-01 01:50:02 PST

If you are a Yeti Master in Trek Wars, you become one with The Power when you are killed by a Dart Master. Sandman[.net]

From: - X - (freeloki@nospam.hotmail.com) Subject: Re: why didn't obi wan vanish when struck with doodu's saber?
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films, rec.arts.movies.current-films, rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, alt.fan.starwars Date: 2002-09-01 04:27:49 PST

Vanishing is a technique that has to be taught. When Qui-Gon and the other Jedi that you mentioned died, they didn't vanish because they hadn't been taught the proper technique. Simple as that.

Message 4 in thread From: howard@brazee.net (howard@brazee.net) Subject: Re: why didn't obi wan vanish when struck with doodu's saber?
Newsgroups: alt.fan.starwars, rec.arts.movies.current-films, rec.arts.movies.past-films, rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc Date: 2002-09-01 08:04:36 PST

You need to check with The Highlander to learn the answer to this question.

Message 5 in thread From: Erganomulos (fettman@hotmail.com) Subject: Re: why didn't obi wan vanish when struck with doodu's saber?
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films, rec.arts.movies.current-films, rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, alt.fan.starwars Date: 2002-09-01 10:24:40 PST

because their laser swords need to be at a certain energy lvl... when gi kong guin was fighting the phantom menance, there was a two-sided laser sword, so that takes up twice the energy, so gi kong guin wasn't able to puff into the air... the droids had special 'no fading' laser bolts so that when struck, a Jedi can't puff into the air... Dooku's laser sword was bent, so the energy lvl was also bent, and bent energy can't make Jedis puff into the air

cool (2, Funny)

jomast (173693) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181920)

cool
does this mean that windows machines will be virus free from now on??

Re:cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181932)

Well I'm sure that one way to purge any viruses/trojans/spyware on any machine would be to pour salt water on the motherboard! That will definately stop these hostile programs from running.

Re:cool (4, Funny)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181935)

cool
does this mean that windows machines will be virus free from now on??


I guarentee you that if you pour the solution into your computer, it will be free of viruses from now on. Should work on any operating system ;)

OK Disclaimer-- don't try this at home, or if you do, don't complain to me :)

Re:cool (1)

jomast (173693) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182078)

This has given me an awsome idea! i'll make millions by bottling salt water and marketing it as the first and only platform idependant anti-virus, anti-hacker, anti-whatever solution!
It works on windows, linux, bsd... on x86, PPC, SPARC, and more!
Get yours today!
$29.95
Supplys are limited so email your orders NOW!

Number three (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181927)

Yall can suck my balls. Blah. Voltron does your mom.

Correction... (2, Funny)

thelinuxking (574760) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181929)

This one is fairly detailed, but hard to reach.

ALL links in Slashdot are hard to reach. This one is just soon to be impossible to reach.

Kidneys? (1)

twenex (139462) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181930)

This can't be good for the kidneys.... are you sure this is for consumption, and not just for external use?

Am I the only one... (2)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181931)

who has ever been told to gargle with salt water for a sore throat?

1. Claim to have invented salt water

Re:Am I the only one... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181937)

2. ???
3. Profit!

Re:Am I the only one... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181941)

Dont like, it was your dads cum you were told to gargle... to cure the sore throat that you got when your dad rammed his cock down your throat

Re:Am I the only one... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181960)

zing!

Re:Am I the only one... (2)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182048)

You just forgot to dip the electrodes in your mouth while you were gargling.

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182059)

TIPS FOR YOUR EYE

If you've ever got an inflamed eye dip it in a cup of water with one teaspoon of salt.

If you've got something between your eye and your eyelid that you can't reach hold your eyelash, pull out slightly, and clench the muscle to close your eye. Your eye will now clean itself.

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182079)

like anyone would take medical advice from a post on slashdot! hah!

If people took anyone seriously on /. then we would see far more 2nd degree burns from hot grits down people's pants and natalie portman bodygaurd injuries.

Me too! (5, Funny)

Overcoat (522810) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181934)

I can convert beer into a water and salts solution! What do I get?

Re:Me too! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181963)

yellow sheets?

well, if you're in russia (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182088)

you get Frost Pist (note for those that aren't frequenty spelunkers into the zoo known as Threshold: -1, that's one of the misspellings the FPcretins use(d) to get around the first post bouncer)

My guess. (1)

Crusty Oldman (249835) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181938)

This wouldn't be a collodial silver generator, would it?

What the fuck is 'virii' ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181940)

What does that word mean?

Re:What the fuck is 'virii' ? (0, Offtopic)

Warped-Reality (125140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181945)

more than one virus.

Re:What the fuck is 'virii' ? (3, Informative)

MrP- (45616) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181951)

The plural of virus is neither viri nor virii, nor even vira nor virora. It is quite simply viruses, irrespective of context. Here's why: http://www.perl.com/language/misc/virus.html [perl.com]

Re:What the fuck is 'virii' ? (0, Offtopic)

limbostar (116177) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182030)

And yet language is such that it doesn't matter what OED says. If people say virii is the plural of virus, it is. It's the same with hacker / cracker.

You cannot stop language from evolving.

Re:What the fuck is 'virii' ? (0, Offtopic)

beanyk (230597) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182094)

You cannot stop language from evolving.


No you can't, but that's no reason not to try. I mean, death and is inevitable as well, but there's no reason to hurry it along.

Same thing happens at home (Ireland) with the word referendum. People pluralise it as if it were a neuter 2nd declension noun -- referenda, when in fact it's a gerund (or gerundive, I forget which), not a noun at all, in Latin. But in English it is a noun, and its plural is therefore referendums. Nothing else makes sense.

Right now, virii is wrong. Sure in the future, if enough people make the same mistake, it'll become the right plural, in some sense. But why help it along? As the perl.com link demonstrates, using fake plurals like virii is being pretentious. It *sounds* plausible, but by helping it along, you just spread ignorance.

My point? If in doubt, just use the normal English rules of pluralisation: add an "s".

Re:What the fuck is 'virii' ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182109)

What is the plural of "virion"?

It means "You're a fucking tool, Beavis". (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181966)


It's true, I kid you not! Nine out of eleven ancient Roman emperors had to deal with idiots like you, and all of them would bellow "VIRII!" (as I said, this is absofuckinglutely historically verifiable truth and stuff) before cramming an empurpled imperial foot up the flabby ass of the idiot of the moment.

But and so, like, what they, you know, what they like meant by that was, so to speak, YOU'RE A FUCKING TOOL, BEAVIS.

And you can quote me on that.

What about the anti-gravity angle? (0, Troll)

theonomist (442009) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181949)


I saw the same infomercial on Russian TV one late night, and they said the very same device has been shown to cancel gravity in certainly irreproachably irreproducible experiments conducted at the Skvorny Prkgkvrkngov Institute for Mysterious Russian Research in Moscow.

You get a cool knife set, too, and five winning lottery numbers (based on your unique horoscope and biorhythms), if you order your device immediately and pay cash.

Dionne Warwick bought three.

Re:What about the anti-gravity angle? (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181964)

Prkgkvrkngov

!?!? If that's a real name then you can call me Mr. Asdfgshsahdsadasfddsdsfdsfsd Hinklesberry III

Re:What about the anti-gravity angle? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182032)

Good evening Mr. Asdfgshdsadasfddsdsfdsfsd Hinklesberry III

Re:What about the anti-gravity angle? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182022)

shut up you christian science fucktard! Would you suck Jesus' cock for blasphemy?

the majority of Russians are atheists and I'm proud to be one!

Re:What about the anti-gravity angle? (2)

be-fan (61476) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182097)

And don't forget, the first 20 collers get a free Elbrus E2K [geek.com] CPU!

If this is so good for you (2)

thelinuxking (574760) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181954)

Then why aren't you supposed to be in the ocean during a thunderstorm? Seems highly similar...Except apparently with real lightning and salt water you die.

Re:If this is so good for you (1)

jdkincad (576359) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182122)

Salt water conducts electricity. So if you are in water struck by lightning, you might as well just be struct by the lightning directly.

Just a Swimming-Pool Chlorine Generator? (4, Informative)

SkewlD00d (314017) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181955)

Using electricity, it splits table salt (NaCl) into Na+ and Cl- ions, and you get chlorinated, swimming pool water. And the Na+ is recycled by recombining with Cl- and all you ever add is salt. I saw one of these units on "This Old House," for a swimming pool. Bottom line: never add chlorine, just salt and electricity.

Re:Just a Swimming-Pool Chlorine Generator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181978)

Adding electricity to a pool is real smart.
With all those ions floating around it would sure make a pretty display.

no electricity needed. (2)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182002)

just putting salt into solution ionizes it. if you apply electricity you will hydrolyze the water and split it into hydrogen and oxygen gas. put the crackpipe down.

Re:no electricity needed. (2)

zaius (147422) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182064)

If you're so convinced that's what happens, then you should try hydrolyzing salt water and taking a nice, deep sniff of the gas that collects above the positive electrode.

Re:Just a Swimming-Pool Chlorine Generator? (3, Informative)

dpilot (134227) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182041)

Try:

http://www.watermaid.com.au

for one. There are quite a few others, too. Just throw "salt water chlorination" into google.

Re:Just a Swimming-Pool Chlorine Generator? (5, Interesting)

mesocyclone (80188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182044)

I built one of these things (salt water hydrolizer) in a (foolish) attempt to cut my pool chemical costs. Unfortunately, it leaked chlorine gas! I don't think my lungs have yet recovered, and it's been 20 years! Done right, however (and not being a putz as I was in the way I built it), people used to chlorinate their pools this way.

The Cl- ions form chlorine gas> If you can keep it involved in the water, the whole thing works. It does, however, produce lots of NAOH, which is not a nice thing to have around either!

Oh, and the design I used (I found it somewhere around town) used asbestos to separate the positive and negative regions.

In general, it was your all around chemical warfare and carcinogenic dream!

Re:Just a Swimming-Pool Chlorine Generator? (2, Informative)

prichardson (603676) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182062)

actually. you dont need electricity for the NaCl to turn into Na+ Cl-. In fact, salt water does kill bacteria. I think the electricity just makes it run faster.

The downside- (1)

Joe 'Nova' (98613) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182075)

You electroplate stuff onto the electrodes, and even if they are "Royal" metals(platinum, gold, etc..), metals will still plate out on the electrodes.(in India, they have highly saturated Arsenic in the wells drilled, so this might not be so bad after all)
But I suspect not for a while. Besides, who wants all the calcium ya can drink ;)
I would imagine you have to have a continual flow, or else the solutions will mix, maybe 1 gal/min?
But if it sterilizes water borne diseases, it would be a Godsend to thirdworld nations...

This thing makes no sense (2)

forkboy (8644) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181957)

From what the article says, it sounds like all they're doing is passing a high electrical current through a saline solution. I don't understand how this solution is supposed to retain its charge, let alone not decompose the salt solution into base molecules. (hydrogen, chlorine, oxygen)

Has anyone seen a more detailed description of how this thing actually works? It can't be as simple as the article describes, solutions just don't work that way.

It makes some sense... (1)

anactofgod (68756) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182042)

It sounds like what they are doing is applying electricity to a solution containing a dissolved salt to create two "products". Around the anode, an "anolyte" is created that has antibacterial properties (though the article claims antiviral, anticyst(?), antigerm properties, as well). At the cathode, a "catholyte" is created that can be used "for treating industrial effluent like the ones from Electro-plating, photographic, and/or textile plants. Catholyte has powerful properties for flocculation, coagulation, bionutrient transfer, cleaning purposes, and neutralizing the toxicity of heavy metals."

Of course, all of this would be apparent to anyone who actually reads the supporting material. *GRYNN* ...anactofgod...

Re:It makes some sense... (2, Insightful)

Steve Franklin (142698) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182119)

Basically, the idiot who wrote the CTV article has taken a straight scientific story and turned it into a gee whiz pseudoscientific fantasy.

Look, unless you believe in alchemy and slow retort cooking under the full moon, the only thing you're going to get from this contraption is Hydrochloric Acid and Sodium Hydroxide, a strong acid and a strong base (alkali), both of which have antibacterial properties. From the technical description of the actual device, it looks like they're using some kind of ceramic membrane to prevent the positive hydrogen ions and the negative hydroxyl radicals from actually recombining with the Sodium Chloride to form the respective acid and base, so what you end up with are free hydrogen radicals (basically just free protons) and free hydroxyl radicals (basically water that's missing a proton). Neither of these is safe in any sense I can imagine. I certainly wouldn't want to be around if the two products came into contact with NaCl by accident. Heat, Light, Boom, Burn! Or maybe just a slow dermal sizzle.

There's a real pastiche of data here. Variations on a theme mixed together in a haphazard way. None of which adds up to what the CTV article suggests. What you get when you send a reporter to cover a technical story.

Useful technology no doubt, but nothing you'd want to drink.

It makes some sense...(part deux) (1)

anactofgod (68756) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182073)

I should have added (by way of further explanation) that the anode (the positive terminal) would attract the negative ions of a dissolved salt (the Cl- ions of NaCl), while the cathode (or the negative terminal) would attract the positve ions (the Na+).

If you pump the water around the anode out, you will have H20 with Cl- ions floating freely in it, in a highly reactive state, ready to bind to any available positive ion. Likewise, pumping the catholyte out would have H20 with Na+ free floating in a highly reactive state,ready to bind to any negative ion.

It seems like the biggest problem would be storing the end products, but it sounds like the anolyte and the catholyte could be produced fairly cheaply and easily as needed, in a small unit.

Seems to be pretty reasonable to me, but I haven't studied chem for 16 years. ...anactofgod...

You are forgetting the sodium (2)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182100)

The water breaks down the sodium and chlorine ions itself, the eletricity just pulls them apart, giving you chlorine gas (I think).

I don't see how it would be safe for humans, but whatever.

Meaux (2)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181959)

Add some cough syrup to it and you get a Flaming Hom^H^H^H^HMoe!

Re:Meaux (2, Funny)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181972)

a flaming homo?

Re:Meaux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182055)

A Flaming Homer. It's in a Simpson's episode. If I can remember correctly, Homer invents it as a new drink, then Moe steals it (I could be wrong, it's been a while). Anyway, you light in on fire before you drink it, hence "flaming".

Re:Meaux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182082)

I wouldn't want to be near that

Re:Meaux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181974)

or time starts to slow down and music sounds really good.

don't knock it till you've tried it.

Is that really new? (1)

G0SP0DAR (552303) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181962)

That greatly resembles something much older called the ViruStat system, which was basically just a water purifier at the time, which was used to kill 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria to make it safe for drinking and medical purposes and such. That used mainly iodine and electrical charges, and probably some patented method of carbon scrubbing whith purifies the water through some grand lengthy process.

That's not news. What is even cooler is that some less-mainstream chemists and health professionals modified these techniques using certain ions of silver, gold, and vanadium to make some disinfectant agents that are not only cheap and easy to make, but are probably far more effective than older conventional disinfectants. Although aqueous silver and similar products are becoming more popular these days and are being taken more seriously by more respected health professionals, there's still a big 'voodoo' like following, so you'd be likely to find a bunch of snake oil ads if you were to try to find this stuff on the Internet. My best bet if any one is interested is to look for WaterOz or Grise, I'm not even sure now, but ionic solutions of certain transition metals in water are proven to disinfect and are safe to drink, so they make good panaceas in many cases. As it is with any such new products and techniques, buyer beware.

Great, I can finally throw out my brita (1)

DaBjork (575727) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181967)

This is just a water filtration device, it's not as outlandish as you people are trying to make it sound. if the "hard to find" article is accurate it's not a panacea just a water detoxifier. That's nice, but it's not exactly revolutionary. I guess this one must be fast or cheap or something, I know the destillers we use take forever to fill up. Good knews for the third world, but don't stop worrying about cancer

Re:Great, I can finally throw out my brita (1)

DaBjork (575727) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181976)

one day I will learn which news to use too. News not knews provides views!

Re:Great, I can finally throw out my brita (1)

sillyman71 (129782) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182026)

Last I checked, brita (and other brands as well) filter out chemicals, particles and stuff, not bacteria. I have no idea if this thing actually works, but it sounds like it only kills germs/parasites, not filter out things such as lead particles. If this thing is for real, you might want to use both, not replace the brita with it.

W0W!!! -- NOT!!!! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181968)

I hate how p33ps who post news always make it sound revolutionary untill you actually read the story and/or think about it.

Re:W0W!!! -- NOT!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182069)

I'm tired of "science" stories on Slashdot. Being a physician and biochemist, I find most stories posted on those topics here old, incorrect, sensationalistic or just plain silly. I read Slashdot for news on computers and related subjects, and I wouldn't expect the sites that provide me with biochemical and medical news to do accurate or interesting reporting on computing. Maybe it's all the scifi geeks who think it's k00l with "genes and stuff"...

Similar to work performed at MIT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181975)

Watching the new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe movie last night brought so many emotions to me: joy, for seeing my favorite characters brought to the small screen once again; skepticism, in trying to believe these are the same characters as their original counterparts; and a sense of being overwhelmed, by the sheer number of revelations and surprises Mattel and Mike Young Productions managed to pack into an hour and a half of television.

Truly this is an historic moment for He-Fans everywhere. No longer is our favorite childhood hero banished to a one-time existence in the mid-1980s. Now it has been revived in a refreshing and powerful new series and toyline. Now our He-Man will take his place among the ranks of G.I. Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, and other franchise creations that have permanent appeal over many generations. What the new cartoon proves more than anything is that the concept for Masters of the Universe is timeless.

"The Beginning," which will be split into three "Origin" parts for regular airing, aspires to do something never before attempted in the Masters of the Universe canon. The original cartoon (and toyline) begin during He-Man's heroic career, never explaining how he got the sword or how his rivalry with Skeletor developed. Instead, we were fed constant hints as to how these things happened (Sorceress was assigned the job of giving the swords to their destined owners in "Origin of the Sorceress"), but never truly told the straight story on how a cowardly prince became the champion of Eternia. Mattel and Mike Young Productions have chosen not only to finally tell He-Man's origin story, but Skeletor's as well, interlocking the two permanently.

Skeletor's origin story still leaves many questions to be answered. The writers have chosen to use the Keldor tale first popularized in the 1986 series Mattel mini-comic, "The Search for Keldor!," which insinuated that Skeletor was King Randor's long-lost brother. Whether or not they are siblings remains a question mark, but what we do know is that Skeletor was once known as a goatee-sporting villain named Keldor (and goatees are always a sure sign of evil, right?). By the way Randor warns the Elders in the Hall of Wisdom, we understand that Skeletor and his army are fast approaching, threatening and invading every corner of Eternia. It is apparent that Randor and the Defenders (the new title of the Heroic Warriors that shows they are constantly on the defense against Skeletor) are struggling to keep the planet safe. While Mattel has chosen to show how Skeletor got his skullface, they have left the story of how Skeletor became Eternia's chief enemy up to question. This leaves all sorts of room for Hordak, King Hiss, and any number of threads to weave into Skeletor's past. But at this point in his life, Skeletor seems to have asserted his rightful place as Eternia's resident master of destruction and created a loyal band of warriors to fight his cause. When Skeletor and his forces attack the Hall of Wisdom, a clash with Randor leaves Skeletor faceless. When Skeletor tosses a vial of poison at Randor, he deflects it with his shield, and the poison sprays all over Keldor's face. The animators try so hard to make this a "Big, Important Moment" that they use dreadfully sluggish slow motion to It is thrilling to finally see Skeletor clutching his head screaming, "My face! My face!," and it is even more satisfying to know that Randor caused the deformation. If there was not hatred between these two before, there definitely is now. Mattel has worked hard to incorporate Randor more tightly into the He-Man/Skeletor rivalry and give Skeletor real motivation to detest the king of Eternia.

Another longtime hole in Skeletor's story has been how Eternia fought him all those twenty years while waiting for Adam to grow up and assume the powers of Grayskull. There have been many theories as to how this might be explained, but Mike Young Productions has come up with the best one I've heard yet. The Council of Elders banished Skeletor and his gang to Snake Mountain (in the "Dark Hemisphere," perpetuating the idea that Eternia has a dark half and a light half). The Sorceress and Man-At-Arms generated a mystic wall to imprison the villains in their own sub-world. This is the cartoon's first symbolic union of science and magic, as Man-At-Arms thrusts a generator into the ground and the Sorceress ignites it with her magic power. This is the first time in either cartoon series that the Sorceress has really performed a jaw-dropping magic spell. The shots of the mystic wall are breath-taking, and we understand immediately that this Sorceress will be a force to reckon with.

Unfortunately, the Sorceress is a failure. Gone is the maternity and soft-spoken spirituality of a kind-hearted woman in bird costume. She has been replaced by a female Egyptian pharaoh that speaks cold declarations and looks with hard eyes. I always imagined the scene when the Sorceress bestows the sword upon Prince Adam to be a beautiful, loving scene where the Sorceress would gently explain Adam's destiny as he, overwhelmed but fully aware of the moment's importance, dutifully accepted his new role. All hopes for such a moment are dashed by the icy Sorceress and frightfully bratty Prince Adam seen in "The Beginning."

Mattel has decided to make Prince Adam a boy and He-Man a man, which is a decision I very much approve. Michael Halperin, who wrote the original He-Man series bible, wanted Adam to be a teenager given the power to fight like a man, but Filmation nixed the idea in order to make He-Man and Prince Adam the exact same size and build to ease the difficulties of animating them. The new Adam provides endless avenues for personal growth and development. I think the writers chose to make Adam so unlikable in this first episode so that he would have some place to go and room to grow as the series fleshes him out. He certainly has the most potential of any of the characters in a series where the villain is usually the star. Adam's new look is a breath of fresh air, finally freeing him from that gaudy pink vest and giving him a look that crosses somewhere between Robin Hood and a punk rocker. The new story is more a fairy tale about how a child assumes the power to defeat bigger and stronger enemies, following classic myth-making principles.

But while writer Dean Stefan's decision to make Adam bratty now so he can become manly later is probably a smart one, it makes Adam's performance particularly hard to swallow. He jokes, chides, and ridicules the most important moments of his life, making him appear flippant and disrespectful. As soon as he meets the Sorceress, he makes a crack about sending her a birthday invitation (the guardian's silent response is the only moment when her frosty coldness truly works). Adam possesses reverence for almost nothing--his warrior training, his duties as a prince, his destiny as revealed in the legendary Castle Grayskull. Whereas his attitude in the old show was purely an act, this Prince Adam really does behave like this. It will be most interesting to see if, as Adam grows and accepts his challenges over time, he will grow out of his childishness and learn to act foolish only as a disguise for his secret identity. As told in "The Beginning," He-Man is merely a muscular costume for Prince Adam. Our hero is developed only minimally and possesses no life of his own. I always enjoyed in the old show how you could never really separate He-Man from Adam and vice versa--because even though Adam's behavior was all an act, his inner self was completely formed from the principles and strength of He-Man. One could not exist without the other, but there are times when Adam tires of being He-Man ("Into the Abyss") or outright gives him up ("The Problem With Power"). The writers for the new series seem to be going with the idea that Adam is the whole person and He-Man exists as an incidental, alternative form. If the writers are smart, they'll begin blending the two as the heroics of He-Man begin to have a maturing effect on Prince Adam. The new series promises us huge character development stories for Prince Adam, allowing us to fully understand the growing pains of suddenly becoming your planet's crowned champion.

Writer Dean Stefan produces an unexpected twist in the revelation scene at Grayskull when Adam completely walks out of it, mid-ceremony. Man-At-Arms, having known Adam's destiny all along (he and the Sorceress share a lot of secrets, don't they?), takes Adam to Castle Grayskull when he realizes the time has come. Adam hardly takes any of this seriously, which is a real shame. While I understand what the writers are trying to do, Adam's behavior subtracts not only from our love for him but also from the mystique of Castle Grayskull. If a teenage brat will not shut up when he enters Grayskull just from the feeling of being overwhelmed, then, well, he's a real brat. Adam's nonchalant attitude explodes when he declares, "I'm no great warrior. I'm just a kid. Thanks for the magic show," flagrantly refusing the Sorceress' offer. He flies back to the Royal Palace, where Skeletor and his minions have already wrecked havoc. Suddenly realizing that his family is in danger, Adam understands why he was asked to become a hero at this point in time. Some of Adam's behavior can be explained by his sheltered childhood lived in the safety of the Royal Palace. As Adam asks in his first scene, "What forces of evil? . . . They're history." He has never known evil, so how could he not have a carefree attitude about all this? By making Adam leave Grayskull prematurely, the writers force Adam to choose his destiny rather than have it simply bestowed upon him. Seeing the Palace in ruin, watching Man-At-Arms, his protector, jet off to the Evergreen Forest to join the fighting, hearing the words of his distraught mother, Adam has no choice but to return to Castle Grayskull and accept his adulthood. This plot twist allows Adam the power of choice and strengthens his character, even if it eschews the respectful scene I had always imagined in my head.

The problem with Adam's flippant attitude is that it belittles Grayskull in its very first scene, when it should feel the most powerful and grandiose. The director has chosen low angle and surveillance shots to give us a wide perspective on Castle Grayskull, mostly to make Adam feel small and lost in its expansiveness. The newly redesigned Castle Grayskull is another major weak point in Mattel's re-imagining of the old series. Rather than being a castle obscured by a twisting and elaborate Evergreen Forest, the new Grayskull is a vertical tower stuck in the middle of a jungle. It makes more sense now why no one could find Grayskull before, but that does not make for its frighteningly vertical design. Trying to better Filmation's Grayskull was a fruitless task from the beginning, since Castle Grayskull stands as the original He-Man's only true work of art. The huge jaw mouth, the deep, penetrating eye sockets, the animal-like body of the castle, its leg-like bones supporting its weight over the bottomless abyss, the organic green interior--how could the animators of today even begin to top all this? They don't even try. The new Castle Grayskull looks like any other stone castle with a skullface slapped on front. Instead of a dark interior that shifts and seems somehow alive, we are given dusty brick walls and empty corridors. The castle feels lonely more than anything else. The gargoyles peering from the rafters bring echoes of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" that I'd rather not acknowledge and, again, reduces Grayskull to a castle like any other. The designers give Grayskull no cohesive concept for its interiors. The entrance is a gothic stone corridor, the Sorceress's throne is an Egyptian pyramid, the labyrinth bears Roman coliseums, and the underground chamber is a haphazard mix between She-Ra's Crystal Castle and some vast region of outerspace (although the underground design certainly trumps all the rest of Grayskull). It's as if four different animators with completely different concepts for Grayskull decided they would each control a part of it. In the end, they succeed in making Grayskull into a confusing nothing. This is why the Sorceress's new Egyptian design does not fit in at all. If Grayskull were a pyramid, it would be appropriate, but not inside this castle. The Sorceress, the series's spiritual center, should be beautiful and simple, but the new design weighs her down with ornate designs and a heavy golden headdress. The new Castle Grayskull is this series' ultimate failure, unable to recapture almost any of the aura, suspense, or power of the original. Instead, it is an architectural mishmash.

The only attempt to capture the mystique of old comes when the Sorceress leads He-Man to the underground chamber. Her firefly light leads Adam through Grayskull's corridors, allowing for some of the best lighting and direction in the entire episode. As the Sorceress and Adam descend to the underground chamber, echoes of "Origin of the Sorceress" abound. Since that episode provides our only idea of what it is like to receive the powers of Grayskull, it becomes the benchmark by which this new scene must compare. And, unfortunately, it falls short. The underground chamber is the only Grayskull location that takes our breath away even for a second, as the crystalline expansiveness wows our eyes. The Sorceress sends a ray down into a black abyss, hinting that the abyss may be just as important in providing Grayskull's power as it was in the old series. An ornate chest rises out from the blackness, revealing Adam's sword. I do like that this entire sequence is free of dialogue, as if the Sorceress knew Adam's decision without asking him and he knew what to do without being told. But the scene lacks any pause, any breath, any learning. Adam picks up the sword with little or no hesitance, whips it above his head, and declares, "By the power of Grayskull!," without even the least bit of encouragement. Even Zoar had to have some coaching from Kodak Ungor before she could become the Sorceress again. In a few wild anime camera moves, Adam becomes He-Man in a shock of electric blue light. The transformation happens too rapidly without any of the reverence it deserves. This should have been a quiet, powerful moment as Adam accepts his destiny, but instead it barrels over Adam's "It's heavy" protest to reach the finished product, a sword-wielding muscle man named He-Man that almost seems foreign to the whole event.

He-Man himself appears oddly disconnected and undeveloped in his first outing. Having just been created, he lacks any real personality of his own. The writers have taken great pains to improve our hero from the one of old. He-Man's action sequences are a lot like his old ones (picking up a boulder, deflecting Skeletor's blasts, stopping a fall in mid-air by plunging his sword into the cliffside), but they are a lot harder for him to perform. Lifting a boulder appears to take all his strength, as he carefully cuts the rock with his sword, pulls it up from the ground, and takes his time rising from his knees to hold the boulder completely in the air. A huge problem in the original series was that He-Man appeared to do anything and everything almost effortlessly. When a hero is all-powerful, he becomes boring. The new series has taken great pains to show He-Man is strong, but his feats of strength are not necessarily easy. This allows room for He-Man to be weak, to fall, to make a mistake. Already the writers have cured one of the major ills of the old show. I particularly love it when He-Man catches Randor as they fall into the lava pits and Randor asks, "He-Man, you can fly?" in a stroke of comedic genius. He-Man, of course, can not fly, pointing out one of his weaknesses right from the start. He plunges his sword into the mountainside to stop, but fails, and he has to let go of Randor to make the second attempt work. This is far more dramatic than He-Man quickly and effortlessly saving the day. Unlike the original series, the action sequences of the new one will actually be interesting.

If there is any message the new series is trying to send us, it is this: THE ACTION SCENES WILL BE MUCH, MUCH BETTER. At least a third of "The Beginning" movie is spent on battles, pairing up different character so they can square off and demonstrate their weapons and abilities. Just like "Diamond Ray of Disappearance," Mattel is using this as a toy commercial to demonstrate all the "neat things" each character can do, enticing us to buy. But such commercialism can be excused because the animators go to great lengths to make these tiffs interesting and exciting. One of the major problems of the old series was the "one strike, you're out" formula, which dictated that any time a villain was struck, hit, or kicked, he was automatically defeated and completely out of commission. This is why battles on the old series happen so quickly and quietly: all it takes is one action for a hero to knock out the villain. The new series has much more faith in the resilience of its characters. When Man-E-Faces knocks Mer-Man down, he stands up again and whips out his sword (cleverly using his belt emblem to hide his sword). The villains are not defeated easily and the heroes are not perfect, making the action scenes far more intriguing. The heroes might actually lose against these ferocious enemies.

While I do not have space to talk about every character individually, I would like to write a few quick impressions about each one:

Man-At-Arms - a more quiet force than I first expected, he maintains his fatherly presence with a bit more strategic intelligence. His once useless battle mace can change shape and produce strategy plans, and he seems more like a middle-aged warrior than the aging engineer of old.

Man-E-Faces - one of the most useless characters of the original toyline, Mattel could have ditched him this time around. But instead, they are trying to finally integrate Man-E with the rest of the cast. He still has not found his place, but he is more active than I expected. The question still remains whether his shifting faces actually change his personality and his powers or if they do nothing to him at all.

Ram Man - does not really have much to do here, but maintains the clumsy, dumbfounded personality of old, and his beefier redesign fits his powers perfectly

Mekaneck - this new series works hard to give Mekaneck the purpose he never really attained in the original; the fact that his neck can bend and twist will aid that goal a lot.

Stratos - not much different from the Stratos of old, his main purpose is to be the Defender that can actually fly.

I was actually amazed at how much Mattel did NOT change from the original series. Most of the characters' redesigns are variations on the old ones, and they all possess the same powers and even the same weapons of the originals (and the cartoon has managed to integrate the weapons in ways that Filmation never bothered to).

Teela has a refreshing new anime look, given long ponytail hair and a ferocious, wide-eyed attitude. She does not seem nearly as reserved and harsh as the old Teela; in fact, she comes across as playful, youthful, and freed up. This allows her to have more of a bantering sibling relationship with Prince Adam than the almost parental relationship of old. The new show chooses familiar ground with which to introduce them--the traditional training sequence in the Royal Palace courtyard under the watchful view of Man-At-Arms. Returning to this place assures the audience that nothing has changed at all. Adam and Teela's spirited attacks on each other tell us right from the start that their attraction is more than just the kind of bond childhood friends share. Teela's backflips and snake staff action prove she will certainly have more than her fair share of great action scenes in the new series.

Orko remains surprisingly unchanged from the original series. His more wizardly outfit works well, but his high-pitched squealing and Freudian slips prove he will be comedic relief all over again. That will probably be okay, since the writers must know Orko was overused in the original show. The writers have done an excellent job of solving yet another mystery from the original series: how Orko found out Adam's secret (or why Adam would tell him it at all). Orko and Cringer follow Adam to Grayskull and witness his transformation, becoming the only two other than the Sorceress and Man-At-Arms to know the secret. I like that Cringer and Battle Cat are unable to speak in the new series. It allows Cringer to be frightened constantly without the whiny voice (he looks more like a real cat too). Battle Cat's new design is disappointing, however. The animators have scaled back his armor, but his head is way too small for his body. Orko, Cringer, and Battle Cat always bear the burden of being the funny sidekicks, and the jury is still out on exactly how they will function in this new series.

King Randor and Queen Marlena are remarkably muted in their twenty-first century redesigns. The gruffness of Randor's original voice is missing, and he almost sounds like he could be He-Man's age. The animators have chosen to dress Randor and Marlena in the same brown and orange colors, but this has a dulling effect. Whereas the original Queen Marlena, in her striking and simple green gown, provided a commanding presence even when she did not speak, the new Marlena seems quiet and unaware. She's a token mother figure without any of the intelligence and power of the original. I can hardly imagine this Queen Marlena being a headstrong astronaut from the planet Earth.

But while Mattel and Mike Young Productions have done a credible job with the heroes, their energies have obviously been better spent on the villains. Maintaining the looks and color schemes for the Evil Warriors, the animators have wisely sharpened the appearances and powers of Skeletor's ratpack. Here's my rundown:

Mer-Man - the Best Entrance award goes to Mer-Man, who pops out of a swampy pool in foreboding, grand style. The animators have taken away the bumbling oafishness of the original and made Mer-Man's fishy origins an asset. His razor-sharp teeth, piercing eyes, and throaty voice make him dangerous and full of malice. His scene with the giant floating blowfish goes on way too long, however, and having Man-At-Arms trapped in its belly is a little too "Jonah and the Whale" for my tastes.

Beast Man - the quintessential first henchman, Beast Man fails to return to his darker roots from the first episodes of the original series. Instead, the writers have opted to go with the bumbling, clueless Beast Man that became the norm. His chief allies appear to be the Griffins, which allow him to swoop in and rescue Skeletor whenever necessary. The scene where the two ride Griffins and the wind flies against them is one of the strongest sensory moments in the episode and proves that Beast Man is Skeletor's right hand man.

Trap Jaw - thankfully, Trap Jaw's foolishness has been reduced and his powers emphasized. His huge robotic arm supports almost any weapon, and he actually seems threatening now.

Clawful - the loneliest of Skeletor's first season band, Clawful was a villain who always had great potential with his echoing voice and devilish eyes. The new series kills that potential by giving him the idiot voice and brain that Trap Jaw abated. But, like all the other villains, his terrific redesign and blazing powers reveal a triumph of brawn over brain.

Whiplash - how did Whiplash get so big? He's huge now, and the better for it. His tail cracks down on Teela, and if that doesn't frighten a person, Whiplash sitting on you will.
Tri-Klops - the "odd man out" of Skeletor's original five cohorts (Beast Man, Trap Jaw, Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man, and Tri-Klops), Tri-Klops returns in this series with newfound purpose. His cyclops eye can shoot fire now (among other things, I'm sure), and his Doom Seeker robots attack when we least expect them to. The Doom Seeker have not been fully explained, but they add purpose to Tri-Klops. Expect a lot more from him in the future.

Of course the most improved villain is Evil-Lyn, who reaches her full potential in this new series. While the new design is a little too sticks-and-bones for me, the attitude and the power are all there. Whereas it was sometimes unclear her role in the original series, Evil-Lyn is undoubtedly second-in-command now. She stands alongside Keldor in his first scene, and takes over for Skeletor when he escapes with Randor. And just as Skeletor receives a tilting shot over his body upon entrance, so too does Evil-Lyn warrant a similar shot later on, proving that she is just as threatening. Her staff-length crystal ball is an improvement and her glowing purple eyes are a welcome addition to her sorceress ensemble. Whereas Evil-Lyn always seemed like Teela's evil counterpart in the original series, this Evil-Lyn positions herself far beyond Teela's level. As a longtime Evil-Lyn fan, it is a thrill to see her finally kicking butt. After Tri-Klops, Trap Jaw, and Beast Man each try to break the mystic wall, Evil-Lyn steps forward and declares, "Step aside, boys," and fires her magical best. While her attempt fails (allowing Skeletor to assume his rightful role as destroyer of the mystic wall), the sequence proves the hierarchy of the Evil Warriors and Evil-Lyn's place atop it. Perhaps no moment among the action scenes is more powerful than when Evil-Lyn sends a cosmic blast across the Evergreen Forest and turns it into a barren wasteland, turning the tables and making the Evil Warriors the team to beat. Never would the original He-Man series have produced a moment where it seemed so much like the villains would actually win. Skeletor's army is, on a hand to hand ratio, more powerful than He-Man's Defenders, allowing them to become the longtime threat legend has made them out to be. Now we understand why Eternia needs He-Man: these enemies are too strong for anyone but him.

Evil-Lyn's rise to power could not come without a hint of mutiny. Writer Dean Stefan chooses to end the episode with a tacked-on scene where Evil-Lyn questions Skeletor's authority. "Perhaps you think you could run things better than I," Skeletor coldly says to Evil-Lyn, eliciting the conciliatory reaction he wanted from her. The scene is rather useless in "The Beginning," but it does promise plenty of classic tension between these two power-starved villains. Evil-Lyn will be her own force in this new series.

But just like "Diamond Ray of Disappearance," the true star of this premiere episode is Skeletor. Retaining the wit of the original, this Skeletor is far more powerful and threatening than ever before. His voice leaves much to be designed, but Mattel has successfully re-imagined him as a warrior. The new Skeletor is far more physical, allowing him to fight He-Man almost equally. His flips and jumps into the air, his amazing sword slashing, and his dynamic mid-air moves all reveal the potent influence of anime on the new Masters of the Universe. Skeletor can do almost anything, and that makes him a stronger villain. Thankfully, the animators have brought back the Havoc Staff and added a royal cape, giving Skeletor a captive elegance and form he did not quite possess before. The director has overused the red eyes glowing, which are supposed to signal the moments when Skeletor gets most angry. The red eyes were used throughout original He-Man memorabilia, but Filmation chose to resist it. It was inevitable that the new cartoon would employ the red eyes, but the animators should be frugal with their usage. On the other hand, director Gary Hartle chooses brilliantly to obscure Skeletor's skullface until he finally reveals it to King Randor, the man he blames for his deformation. As Randor wisely responds, "You did it to yourself," cleverly pointing out that Skeletor's evil will poison himself and ultimately bring his downfall. Obscuring Skeletor's face, shrouding him in darkness, and granting him legendary fighting skills and magic powers have bolstered Skeletor to the level he was always meant to achieve--a serious, powerful supervillain almost incapable of defeat. Skeletor still delivers terrible dialogue about threatening He-Man and ruling Eternia, and he still surrounds himself with blundering idiots (he gets annoyed with Beast Man), but he's a much stronger villain than the one Alan Oppenheimer voiced (even if Oppenheimer's Skeletor laugh was much better). As always, Skeletor remains the star of He-Man's show.

Mattel and Mike Young Productions have done an amazing job of streamlining and retelling the often incongruous He-Man mythology. The Hall of Wisdom, which never appeared in the original series, finally establishes the Council of Elders as the center of wisdom and power in Eternia. When Keldor attacks the hall, the Elders vanish and declare Captain Randor king of Eternia (finally proving that Randor rules over all, not just part, of the planet, but vanquishing the King Miro mythology of the old series). The Elders' disappearance marks a powerful shift for all of Eternia. Randor, standing alone in the now empty hall, hears only the voice of the Sorceress in falcon form. She declares, "Peace will come only for a time. A hero shall emerge to protect Eternia." Director Gary Hartle takes care to obscure the Sorceress until Adam meets her, cleverly hiding her in shadowed shots of her wings. The Sorceress explains to Adam that the Elders joined their powers and gave their energy to the Sorceress to protect. While this would seem to answer the question "What is the secret of Grayskull?," it does not quite make sense. If the ultimate power of Grayskull is the the power and knowledge of the Elders, then what did Grayskull exist before they stored their power in it? Why was the Sorceress living there? When Skeletor grills King Randor for information, he asks, "Now that the Council of Elders is no more, who controls the power of Eternia now?" What is this power of Eternia? Does it allow one to control Eternia, or the entire universe? Is is simply the knowledge and power of the original Elders? And why did Grayskull exist before it became the storage place for that power? Since Skeletor is still looking for the Elders, he does not even realize that Grayskull exists, adding an interesting new twist to the mythology. Skeletor will not attack Grayskull until he learns that the Elders' power is stored with in it. I am hoping that Grayskull houses more than just the Elders' magic. The original Grayskull kept its secret mysterious, but always offered the power to control the universe. This new series does not quite say if Grayskull offers this kind of power anymore or if the "power" is just the concentrated wisdom of Eternia's oldest Elders.

Furthermore, is the Hall of Wisdom still standing? With all the energy put into creating the Hall of Wisdom at the beginning of this movie, we would expect its presence to continue. I wish the animators had put as much effort into Grayskull as they did the hall. The opening shots and music in "The Beginning" are unrivaled by the rest of the story. On the whole, the music is banal and disinterested, providing more coverage than truly adding excitement. Places where the music should have provided the most emotion (such as Adam receiving the Power Sword) is where it remains the most unmemorable. The direction is vastly improved, showing what twenty years can do to children's animation. The moving camera shots, low angles, and blazing action cuts show the new influence of anime and modern cinema on animation. Director Gary Hartle has done a supreme job of making the once stagnant He-Man characters practically jump off screen.

The new He-Man series brings almost hundreds of welcome improvements upon the original, including better action scenes, better continuity, and darker villains, but it fails miserably when it comes to voices. King Randor and Mekaneck and Man-At-Arms all sound like the same person. Skeletor's voice is hollow and posses none of the resonant vocals of Alan Oppenheimer. He-Man's voice sounds the way a boring muscle-man's should, lacking any of the maturity and moral depth of John Erwin's performance. Even Evil-Lyn, who has the best voice of all the new characters, sounds grainy and desperate when listened against the golden confidence of Linda Gary's witch. All the characters look fantastic, but when they open their mouths, I want to cry.

Still, my complaints are largely nitpicky. Mattel and Mike Young Productions have overcome the major hurdles by firming up the mythology, finally telling the origin story of He-Man, and re-envisioning the entire cast of characters without taking away the appearances, powers, and personalities that first made us love them. I am impressed by how much has not changed, and most of the changes are welcome improvements upon the original series. Executive producer Bill Schultz has succeeded in guiding this new series to its rightful place. On the whole, "The Beginning" is off to a great start.

Important! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181977)

It is important to note that the plural of virus is VIRUSES, not "virii".

Learn why there's no such thing as "virii" here:
http://www.perl.com/language/misc/virus.html

Re:Important! (1)

woogieoogieboogie (598162) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182057)

"Anyway, Latin already had a word viri, but it was the nominative plural not of virus (slime, poison, or venom), but of vir (man), which as it turns out is also a 2nd declension noun. I do not believe that writers of English who write viri are intentionally speaking of men"

There are some who consider man a virus upon the planet earth.

Have you ever had a dream, that you were so sure was real?

Am I really watching The Matrix or is it just a dream of me watching The Matrix.

Hmm... I'm sceptical. (3, Insightful)

26199 (577806) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181980)

Let's have a look at that CTV report:

The resulting solution is so energy rich, it dissolves all microbes it comes in contact with, in water, on objects and on human skin. It also happens to be odorless, colorless, and completely safe for human consumption.

It dissolves microbes, but is safe for human consumption? Is anyone else not convinced?

Researchers said the technique used to control bacteria, viruses, cysts and germs is 200 to 300 times more efficient than any other purification alternative.

200 to 300 times more efficient, how, exactly? And what does it do to help cysts?

(and, er, what's the difference between a virus and a germ?)

The process is cheap. It costs just fractions of a penny to purify a litre of water. Researchers have even been able to take spoiled milk and, by passing it through the Emerald, make it fresh once again. Sounds like science fiction, doesn't it?

Yep... it does. Sorry.

Re:Hmm... I'm sceptical. (2)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182017)

Doesn't sound like science fiction to me. Science fiction tends to be at least a little bit plausible. This thing sounds like ordinary everyday quackery.

Difference between a virus and a germ (3, Insightful)

AlaskanUnderachiever (561294) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182060)

Bare with me, biology was a LONG time ago and chemistry was more recent.
A virus is basically a self replicating (with a hosts help) package of RNA.

A germ (or bacteria) is a single celled organism.

Here's the problem as I see it. "spoiled" milk is not JUST caused by bacterial action. It's also a chemical conversion of lactose and lipids. Unless this stuff is some Uber-Converter that can reverse time, this story is full of crap. Now, it COULD have enough energy to 'dissolve' the biological matter present in it. Hell, if I put a huge current though an ionic solution, I can almost guarantee everything in it is going to be toast too.

That's not remarkable, that's bad swimming pool pump maintenace.

Re:Difference between a virus and a germ (1)

t0rnt0pieces (594277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182105)

A virus is basically a self replicating (with a hosts help) package of RNA.

A germ (or bacteria) is a single celled organism.


Allow me to make a few corrections. Viruses can be DNA *or* RNA, and they don't self-replicate, they take control of cells and use the cells' equipment to replicate. Germs and bacteria aren't neccessarily the same. "Germ" isn't really a biology term anyway. "Germ" is just the word lay-people use for pathogenic microorganisms.

so... (1)

squarefish (561836) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181982)

is it CowboyNeal safe?

bacteria? (1)

goatasaur (604450) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181984)

The human body is made of millions of bacteria. Especially the digestive system.

I'd be interested in knowing how this solution can target only bacteria deemed 'harmful', and not wipe out my damn large intestine in the process.

Re:bacteria? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181998)

Unless you intend to pass your large intestine through the electrical current, I think you'll be okay.

This thing's a water purifier. Bully for them, but it's not exactly cold fusion.

Re:bacteria? (1)

goatasaur (604450) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182033)

The synopsis says it works on anything, including virii and cysts. It sounds like it's being marketed as a curative, to me.

Viruses, not virii (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182039)

Typical /. moron

Re:bacteria? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182089)

> The human body is made of millions of bacteria. Especially the digestive system.

"Millions"? Any healthy individual actually has a larger number of bacteria (the normal flora) than he has human cells in his body...

A more balanced description (5, Informative)

jbuhler (489) | more than 11 years ago | (#4181988)

Here's a report summary I found on the technology from the Foundation for Water Research. It's not all that and a bag of chips.

http://www.fwr.org/wrcsa/832100.htm

Sugar too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4181992)

Sugar can also be used to kill bacteria, the sugar creates an osmosis effect to explode the bacteria. Place sugar on wound.

Re:Sugar too (2)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182013)

Sugar can also be used to kill bacteria, the sugar creates an osmosis effect to explode the bacteria.

Actually they dehydrate and essentially implode.

The egyptions used honey on surface wounds, and mouldy bread on deeper wounds. THe honey worked on the same principle.

As best I can tell, the idea here is to kill bacteria by applying charge. It might not be very effective after the charge was released (for those that don't know, the salt creates a pathway for electrons to pass through the solution, but they are passed in the form of H+ and O- ions, and this gives off H2 and O2 as the electricity is applied.

Mirror of hard to reach page (1)

CoolQ (31072) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182006)

I put up a mirror of the hard to reach page. Yes, I see the google cache link, but don't you want to see the pretty pictures? :)
Mirror is here [zoplionah.com]

It's plain simple ... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182009)

No rocket science here, don't understand why something as simple as the electrolysis of brine makes in on Slashdot ...

Freshman chemistry tells you:
NaCl -> Na+ + Cl-
H2O -> H+ + HO- (actually H3O+ instead of H+ but that's details)

Then, you add some electricity and you get:

At cathode (- electrode), H+ -> H2 (bubbles out) which means a lot of Na+ and HO- are left floating around - thus, per Google cached article in the original post: "The catholyte is a powerful alkaline solution used for [...]" -- not surprising at all, as you can see ...

Then, at anode (+ electrode) you've got HO- and Cl- ... as expected, Cl- -> Cl2 ... but the trick here is that the formed chlorine reacts with water and even better with the NaOH that diffuses from the cathode to form ... bleach (hypochlorite that is) !
Cl2 + NaOH -> NaCl + NaClO
Now what does the article say? ... "The anolyte has powerful bactericidal characteristics and is effective in the control of harmful organisms like bacteria, viruses, cysts, and germs."

Damn that highschool chem :-)

END-OF-CHEM-LESSON

I've seen something simliar. (2)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182011)

My father's company is involved in medical disinfection, they've had a similar machine for evaluation at their factory a number of years ago. It came from Germany I believe.
No one could believe it worked. All they did was add salt to water and run a charge through it. All it made was salty water. Despite the manufacturers claim of disinfection, they couldn't verify it.

I'm not a chemist by any means, but the only thing we could think of was that it created Na+ and Cl- ions, causing some sort of disinfection on contact. Which is believeable, because that's how your home pool works. Interesting....

This is SO snake-oil (5, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182012)

Oh goodness, catholite and anolyte from the cathode and the anode! What a scientific miracle!

This is an experiment I did in elementary school.

It's called electrolysis. You separate salt water into

  • Hydrogen a highly-reactive gas, thus antibiotic.
  • Oxygen, an oxidizer (duh), oxidation is about the most commonly used method of disinfection.
  • Sodium, a highly reactive chemical and thus disinfectant.
  • Chlorine, a superoxidizer (see above).

Use enough voltage, and maybe you bump oxygen to ozone, a superoxidizer (see above).

None of this takes any kind of chemist to see.

Note also that these chemicals are extremely hazardous in their uncombined forms. Remember Apollo 1 and its pure oxygen atmosphere at full sea-level pressure? Skin catches fire almost explosively in that sort of atmosphere - it's truly horrible what pure oxygen can do. Combine hydrogen and oxygen in the right proportions and they will explode. Sodium is poison and explosive when combined with water. Chlorine is poision.

Some of the more recent explorations into silver as a disinfectant with good tolerance in the body might be more profitable to follow, but also have snake-oil potential because too few people recognize that as another century-old technology that has a mass-market application in swimming pools today.

Were I you guys, I'd kill the story.

Bruce

Re:This is SO snake-oil (2)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182040)

Combine hydrogen and oxygen in the right proportions and they will explode.

Those right proportions are 2 hydrogens for every oxygen. The explosion is from the energy being released. Which is almost as much energy as it took to crack the hydrogen from the oxygen in the first place.

Oh yeah, when the energy is released you have water again, I hope there is some sodium around at that time.

Re:This is SO snake-oil (0)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182099)

* Chlorine, a superoxidizer (see above).

Technically chlorine is a chlorinator...

By its very definition (and the base for the word) the only oxidizer is oxygen. Many compounds containing oxygen (such as water) are also oxidizers, but that is merely because of the oxygen in it.

Chlorine gas has no oxygen in its purest form, and therefore is not an oxidizer.

Well... (2)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182115)

Keep in mind that no more energy is going to be released by this thing then put into it, so the byproducts won't be all that bad.

Killing bacteria is not always a good thing (1)

majestynine (605494) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182018)

More and more these days we see advertising for 'antibacterial' this-and-that. The problem with all of these products is not so much that it kills the bacteria, but that pretty soon, the bacteria develops defences aganist the things that will kill it - rendering them useless. When this happens, you then need to start using products which are stronger and stronger, each time as the bacteria becomes resistant.

We have major problems in the medical world, because anti-biotics have been regularly prescribed for common colds since antibiotics have existed. As a result, strains of the flu, and other similar sicknesses are becoming highly resistant to antibiotics. I just hope that if we see the introduction of something like this, that it doesn't lead to the same thing. Perfectly clean drinking water is one thing, but perfectly clean water that kills bacteria? Thats another thing...

Re:Killing bacteria is not always a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182035)

The flu is a virus, so antibiotics would never have worked. THAT is why it is so rediculous to give them. All it does it mess up your natural bacteria, and make them resistent. Hence, antibiotic resistant strep and e coli

Re:Killing bacteria is not always a good thing (1)

Handpaper (566373) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182101)

I beg your pardon? Flu? Antibiotics? Influenza and "acute nasopharyngitis" (common cold) are viral and cannot be treated in any way by antibiotics. BTW the only effective antiviral drug is currently being sold over-the-counter to treat......Cold Sores!!

It can help (2)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182120)

When you have a cold you're immune system is weaker, and antibiotics can help prevent extra infections, and kill off any opportunistic ones that happen to show up.

Damn! (1)

smashr (307484) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182020)

Here's the Google cache.


No karma whoring for me now :(

Nooooooo.... (1)

extagboy (60672) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182023)

Water + Salt + Energy = Hydrogen + Chlorine + Sodium Hydroxide (lye)

NEXT@CNN (1)

Lovejoy (200794) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182024)

I saw this on CNN yesterday. I didn't understand how it works from this explanation, but here is the transcript page for NEXT@CNN [cnn.com] . (Click August 31)

i call bullshit on this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182031)

cold fussion anyone?

Anti-anthrax (2)

shokk (187512) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182034)

This was already on the news this week. It's being touted as a non-toxic way to clean a building of anthrax and reoccupy the building within hours.

This article just shows (1)

Bytal (594494) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182045)

...how many talented former Soviet Union scientists are wasting away in no name research labs in Russia and former republics. With no funding, no equipment and no corporate or government backing I am sure that countless great ideas are being discarded as we speak. It's too bad that while many companies are expanding into third world countries and building facilities and recruiting people there, a country with a huge established base of high class engineers, scientists and researchers is being forgotten about. I'm sure that any company that knows its business well would be able to recruit hordes of very competent scientists with wordclass education and knowledge for very little money and be lauded as a local hero and savior by the people in Russia.

of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182046)

Why not make this into a Beowulf cluster?

How can this be just a "water purifier" (1)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182058)

I'm not sure how everyone can be calling this a water purifier. I'm not saying I know what this thing is, or what it can and can't do, but a water purifier won't do any of what the article describes the machine doing. If I take de-ionized water and sprinkle it all over an anthrax laden envelope, it does nothing. Somehow, this salt water mixture is supposed to "scrub" all the baddies and microbes away, leaving the envelope safe for mucking. According to the article, this doesn't purify the water, it turns it into a purifying agent itself.

Water purifiers don't really do anything for large scale sterilization like this device claims to. And if it is just a water purifier, it'd do no more for 3rd world countries and military soldiers than iodine tablets.

Just give it a nice name (1)

Comrade Pikachu (467844) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182061)

The less informed citizenry tend to reject beneficial technologies that don't sound nice. That's a big reason that there aren't many foods that have been "irradiated" (a harmless process that kills food-borne bacteria).

"Electro-Chemical Activation" sounds a bit harsh. Allow me to suggest "Fuzzy Wuv-Bear's Magic No-Germy Stuff".

Chemistry lesson time (2)

ThesQuid (86789) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182085)

Ok, when you dump salt (NaCl) into water, it instantly dissolves into the respective ions, Na+ and Cl-. Cl- ions are not what are used for sterilizing swimming pools; Sodium hypochlorite is used for this, that splits into Na+ and a Hypochlorite- ion. Hypochlorite is very aggressive & will reduce (give an electron to) practically anything.

What makes me suspicious of the Emerald device is the following line:

"The catholyte is a powerful alkaline solution used for treating industrial effluent like the ones from Electro-plating, photographic, and/or textile plants. Catholyte has powerful properties for flocculation, coagulation, bionutrient transfer, cleaning purposes, and neutralizing the toxicity of heavy metals."

Ok, if the catholyte is a powerful alkaline solution, it then follows that the anolyte is a powerful acid solution. Can't make one without the other. And powerful acid solutions aren't exactly benign.

osmosis+E = AHHHHH!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4182106)

Sounds like they turned a reverse osmosis machine into a giant frickin capacitor.

An energy rich solution still has a quantized ammount of energy at any time.

Science News had an article on this... (5, Informative)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182111)

The reaction isn't, as some have said:

NaCl + 2H20 + electricity -> Na + Cl + 2H2 + O2

Rather, you get a hypochlorous acid ion, an a sodium hydroxide ion. In effect, the reverse of mixing hypochlorous acid and lye.

However, you get it in VERY dilute quantities, nowhere near what you'd need to damage human skin. But if you are an itty bitty microbe, the oxidizing effect is deadly.

Really, this is just a "bleach on demand" sort of thing.

A clear and concise explanation... (3, Interesting)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 11 years ago | (#4182123)

...for the device's operation.

No doubt the electric field applied causes small bubbles to form within the solution, and then rapidly collapse. This collapse leads to extroardinarily high temperatures and pressures, which in turn cause nuclear fusion to take place. Stray gammas generated by this fusion result in the destruction of nearby pathogens.

Seriously, this technique sounds like a load of crap, for the most part. I can buy the electrochemical action bit, sort of. Pure molten NaCl (salt, hereafter) will electrolyze to form sodium and chlorine gas, sure enough. With a little creative engineering, it is possible to separate these to products and collect them for later use. Indeed, this is exactly what is done for commercial production of these two elements.

On contact with water, pure Na will form a solution of (aggressively basic) sodium hydroxide plus some hydrogen gas. (This, I assume, is the catholyte we hear about.) Chlorine in water forms an acidic solution which is, to be fair, definitely germicidal.

I see two problems. The first is technical. In a water solution, the electrolytic yields of sodium and chlorine are typically both very low, because oxygen and hydrogen gas are preferentially formed first. (There are sound thermodynamic reasons for this.) Maybe these experimenters have gotten around this somehow, perhaps using exotic catalysts or something.

The second problem is a bit more difficult. If the two component solutions (sodium + water and chlorine + water) are kept separate, individually they would be quite toxic. Brought together, there is a very quick reaction that brings us right back to salt and water--not a particularly powerful disinfectant, and what we started with before we had a mystical black box.

I can think of some other more creative possibilities, as well. Perhaps they're talking about generating some sort of activated state oxygen to do the dirty work (the salt just makes the water conductive)--in which case, they're definitely frauds. There just aren't any activated oxygen states that are stable long enough (in water) to get to the surface to be disinfected. Atomic oxygen might do it, but that's already been invented--and I'm pretty sure it won't last very long in solution either.

Finally, from the article, we have the quote:

f a letter is suspected of containing anthrax spores, it could be passed through a dry mist made from the Emerald solution and the letter would be sterilized.

The letter wouldn't even get wet. Anyone exposed to the spores could bathe in the solution and be germ free.

Erm. Dry mist. Sure. What's in this dry mist, exactly? Chlorine? Nope--it's way toxic. Sodium? Nope--it's a metal. Hydrogen? Um. Yeah. Oxygen--maybe, but atomic oxygen generators already exist (they're used for restoring artwork and whitening teeth). Singlet oxygen will kill things, but it only lasts a few nanoseconds in water.

So, to conclude this lengthy post--I call bullshit!

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