Believe It Or Not:

Derailing Myths About Water

The fact that water is a surprising and valuable substance is no doubt. The greater becomes the temptation to believe another tale, for example, that water reacts to certain words or stores information like a computer. Some, after hearing about these miracles on television, not only believe in them, but are trying to educate the others. What about this science? Let's try to understand.

Myth №1. Water is touchy and vindictive

A cruel joke was played by the film «Great secret of water», which was shown by one of Russian Federal TV channels and had won several awards. This pseudoscientific movie made the audience learn that water is very sensitive to sounds. For example, if shouting or swearing at her, or making her «listen to» heavy metal, frozen crystals will turn ugly. And if you pray, or listen to recordings of Mozart, the shape of the crystal will be ideally perfect. In addition, the film states that the water remembers any information, positive or negative, in other words, acts as a memory card, which can record your favorite song or save a carefully prepared curse for enemies. This effect is achieved due to the fact that water molecules are supposedly combined into a memory cells.

Форма кристаллов не зависит от слов, которые мы произносим

The idea that water responds to negative emotions and has a memory belongs to Japanese Masaru Emoto. He has published several books, in which he described his experiments with water filled containers. Emoto brings photos of the resulting snowflakes as evidence that water reacts differently to the good and the bad words or music,.

– In fact, water does not react to our thoughts and feelings. It's only water! - explains Kenneth Libbrecht, Professor of physics from the California Institute of technology. – How to explain why the picture shows the difference between the samples? I think Mr. Emoto has raised hundreds of crystals, and then has chosen those that confirm his idea. For example, when talking about the influence of classical music, the most beautiful are selected, if punk rock used, they're the ugliest. But in reality, the formed crystals are different, regardless of our actions and desires.

It is worth considering that the works of Masaru Emoto were never published in any serious scientific journals. He has called himself Professor, but his activities were more like a business. For example, he suggested to buy bottles of correctly structured water.

Вода - отличный растворитель. Но не самый мощный в мире

Myth №2. Water is the best solvent

Excellent property of dissolving other substances is called as one of the mysteries of water. But is this ability unique?

– In fact, water is not the most powerful solvent on Earth. The same acetic acid is capable to dissolve substances that are lying in the water for millions years and nothing happens. Sulfur, for example, or phosphorus. The same can be said about the alkalis, which dissolve the metals and oxides with such speed that water never can. And these substances can be found in nature; one volcanic eruption can throw million tons of sulfur oxides to the Earth's atmosphere, which in contact with water gives sulphuric and sulphurous acids, – says Alexey Paevskiy, science journalist.

После душа мы не становимся тяжелее, значит, вода не впитывается

Myth №3. Penetrating shower

Another popular misconception: supposedly, when a person is taking a bath or taking a shower, about 1.5 liters of water is absorbed by the skin. This statement is easily refuted by a simple experiment: stand on scales before and after bathing. Well, gained half a kilo?

Myth №4. Immortal snowflake

Some believe that if the snowflake has melted, it is possible to re-create it, re-freezing the water. Again, because the molecules"remember its shape.

This beautiful legend, alas, has nothing to do with reality. Perhaps it occurred to those who watched the video with the melting snowflakes on backwards. While it seems like a drop of water in advance knew what shape to take. But if you picture the process of the birth of crystals from the start, it will become clear that they are generated each time anew, depending on conditions.

Myth №5. The Mpemba Paradox

This phenomenon is called Mpemba effect - on behalf of the African schoolboy, who noticed that the hot cream froze faster than cold, and asked the teacher of physics to explain what was going on. Since then, many researchers have tried to find out whether the hot water can freeze faster than cold. But we did not come to a consensus.

– To this day any convincing evidence that would prove the existence of the Mpemba effect is not shown, – says Professor Kenneth Libbrecht. Physicists have tried to explain it with the help of various theories, but experimentally they were able to prove nothing.

For freezing you need to start the process of crystal nuclei formation in the liquid. This process depends on many factors: the presence of dirt particles in water, scratches on the surface of the container, vibration and so on.

If you place containers of the same capacity at the same time in freezer, they will not freeze at the same time. Indeed, sometimes warm water freezes faster than cold. And sometimes vice versa. So where is your Mpemba effect?

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