I just finished reviewing my notes of Prof. Gerald Pollack’s book The Fourth Phase of Water and I realized that it’s too important not to dedicate it a few words.
You may think there’s not much to say about the banal/ordinary water. On a closer look, you may be wrong.
Before getting into details, I need to say that this is one of the most coherent and intelligible books that I read so far. It is written in lay term and it is packed with hundreds of illustrations to make it even more graspable.
Dr. Gerald Pollack is Professor of Bioengineering at The University of Washington. I need to mention some of the awards and distinctions he received:
Excellence Award for the book Muscles and Molecules
Distinguished Award for the book Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life
2008 Annual Faculty Lecturer Award from The University of Washington
2009 NIH Transformative Award for his “Unexpectedly Profound Role of Water in Biology and Medicine”
This is a mouthful; and these are only a few of the honors (more here).
From a personal perspective, Prof. Pollack really knows his stuff. I admire him for his empirical approach to science. He goes from experiments and observations to building theories, which is the opposite to most modern science undertakings.
First, I want to thank Prof. Pollack for giving me the permission and opportunity to post captions of the book.
Water has Four Phases
In this short blogpost, I will attempt briefing you on 4 major principles from The Fourth Phase of Water.
The key point of the book is to describe the apparently unusual phenomena surrounding water’s 4th phase, the exclusion zone. Prof. Pollack calls it EZ water and he places it in-between the liquid and solid phases of water.
In his own words:
“From childhood, we have learned that water has three phases: solid, liquid, and vapor. Here, we have identified what might qualify as a fourth phase: the exclusion zone. Neither liquid nor solid, the EZ is perhaps best described as a liquid crystal with physical properties analogous to those of raw egg white.”
Notice the use of words like “might” and “perhaps” which reinforce the reserved approach of Dr. Gerald Pollack throughout the book.
EZ water forms when bulk water (H2O) is near hydrophilic materials. EZ water is electro-negatively charged, while bulk water is positively charged. EZ is called so because it excludes everything as it is being built. I see it as an ultimate form of purified water.
“Hard water is full of minerals, which EZ water excludes.”
Since bulk (hard) water is positively charged and EZ water is negatively charged, Pollack’s team wanted to see if water can act like a battery. According to Pollack, EZ water stores energy in two ways: order and charge separation:
“Order constitutes configurational potential energy, deliverable as the order gives way to disorder. Charge separation entails electrons carrying the EZ’s usual negative charge, while hydronium ions bear the corresponding positive charge. Those separated charges resemble a battery – a local repository of potential energy.”
The next logic thing you may think of is if water can be used as a battery.
Using a rectangular chamber they placed plate electrodes at both ends. They applied a few volts and the dye color built into two semi-rectangular blocks. Then they disconnected the power supply. They found they could draw current.
“We could draw it from the same electrode pairs used for charging or from a fresh electrode pair positioned at any of a series of points straddling the chamber’s center line. We could recover 70 percent of the input charge.”
In another study , which came by accident in an attempt to find a cure for cancer, Kanzius et al (2010) found that when salt water is exposed to microwave (or radio-frequency) radiation, it catches fire. Water seems to act like fuel.
If you don’t want to read the study here’s a less scientific, news-oriented, version of the discovery.
This discovery was made in 2007. Several years later a company called Nanoflowcell AG builds a car that’s fueled based on this principle. Video: here and an updated version here. Car gets approval in Europe.
My next logic question would be:
If water can act like a battery, what would you need to charge/recharge it?
Principle #3 in Professor Pollack’s book demonstrates how light charges water. This is the ultimate form of clean energy production, if you ask me.
The team carried various extremely interesting experiments to prove the concept. I’m not giving away all the goodies of the book, so pick it up and see for yourself. But to make a point, sun’s electromagnetic energy builds potential energy in water:
“Photons recharge the EZ by building order and separating charge. They do this by splitting water molecules, ordering the EZ and thereby setting up one charge polarity in the ordered zozne and the opposite polarity in the bulk water zone beyond.”
One of the most important thoughts I got from the book:
“Plants absorb radiant energy from the environment and use it for doing work. Plants, of course, comprise mostly water; therefore, it should hardly surprise that the glass of water sitting beside your potted plant may transduce incident photonic energy much like the plant does.”
Most living organisms comprise a lot of water (including humans). Solar energy could build real chemical energy in our cells says Professor Pollack.
This may sound outrageous to many, but there are a couple of studies showing a photosynthesis-like mechanism in eukaryotic mitochondria. Start here and here.
In lay terms, we could use a similar mechanism to build clean energy inside our cells. Inputs needed: light (or radiant energy) and water.
The fourth major principle in the book can be seen as a paradox. Why?
We know that like particles repel each other. However, water may seem to disprove this concept. Here’s a visual representation.
If you followed through, you may not need further explanation to understand the concept.
As Professor Pollack says:
“The like charges themselves don’t attract; the attraction is mediated by the unlike charges that gather in between.”
Possible Avenues and Concluding Thoughts
These are only a few of the basic concepts demonstrated in the book. You will get a very deep understanding if you read it in its entirety because it goes from practice (experiments) to theory (opposite to what most science does today) and because of its highly graphical approach.
Sadly, water science did not catch too much attention yet possibly because water “has had a checkered history” which kept curious scientist away from studying it for decades. Some of the findings in water science are known since the early 20th century.
“With critics and their scorn awaiting at every turn, what prudent scientist would venture into the field of water research? Water became treacherous to study. Immersing oneself in water science has become as perilous as immersing oneself in corrosive acid.”
There are quite a few critics of these concepts; a simple Internet search will reveal that. In fact, to get a more balanced opinion, I’ve followed some debates on the topic and most of the critics do not seem to be familiar with the work that’s been done in the field, especially by the illustrious work of Gilbert Ling and the more recent work of Mae-Wan Ho.
Reading the 560-page recent work of Dr. Pollack, these critics would probably have second thoughts on their beliefs.
I think that Prof. Pollack’s book may/will make scientist return their attention to water research. There are dozens of unlimited opportunities in many fields (alternative fuel, clean water, medical applications, etc) that it would be reckless and unwise to turn away from exploring one of the most abundant substances on earth.
If you want to become more aware and potentially contribute to the field, I invite you to start by reading the book. And I end with a similar note:
“Charged entities such as membranes, proteins, and DNA all interface with water; exclusion zones should appear in abundance. Those EZs bear charge, which means they carry electrical potential energy. Since nature rarely discards available potential energy, EZ charge may be used to drive diverse cellular processes ranging from chemical reactions all the way to fluid flows. Opportunities abound.”
If you want a simplified version (that I don’t recommend) of some of these concepts and experiments, you can watch Prof. Pollack’s TED Talk.
- Rao, M. L., Sedlmayr, S. R., Roy, R., & Kanzius, J. (2010). Polarized microwave and RF radiation effects on the structure and stability of liquid water. Current science, (98).
- Valmalette, J. C., Dombrovsky, A., Brat, P., Mertz, C., Capovilla, M., & Robichon, A. (2012). Light-induced electron transfer and ATP synthesis in a carotene synthesizing insect. Scientific reports, 2.
- Xu, C., Zhang, J., Mihai, D. M., & Washington, I. (2014). Light-harvesting chlorophyll pigments enable mammalian mitochondria to capture photonic energy and produce ATP. Journal of cell science, 127(2), 388-399.
- Gerald H. Pollack (2013). The Fourth Phase of Water.
- Gerald H. Pollack (1990). Muscles and Molecules.
- Gerald H. Pollack (2001). Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life.