Wired article on Homeopathy

From: hal@finney.org
Date: Wed Mar 15 2000 - 10:03:43 MST

Wired has an article this morning about a supposed scientific theory
explaining why and how homeopathic medicines could work. I have done
some web research though and found an even more interesting story behind
the story.


In homeopathy, materials are diluted repeatedly, to an astronomical
degree. One drop of solution is mixed with 99 drops of pure water and
shaken to form a more dilute solution. This may be repeated dozens of
times, until statistically there is no chance that even a single molecule
of the original remains (unless it stuck to the glass, I suppose).
Homeopaths say that the MORE diluted it gets, the STRONGER it gets,
exactly the opposite of conventional medical reasoning.

Wired writes, quoting a homeopath's book:

   Validation of the dilution process came in a roundabout way, thanks
   to research by California Institute of Technology chemistry professor
   Shui Yin Lo, who was performing experiments on how to improve car
   engine efficiency.

   Lo found that water molecules, which are random in their normal state,
   begin to form a cluster when a substance is added to water and the
   water is vigorously shaken -- the exact process homeopaths use to
   create their medicine.

   Lo said every substance exerts its own unique influence on the water,
   so each cluster shape and configuration is unique to the substance
   added. With each dilution and shaking, the clusters grow bigger and
   stronger. This water, which homeopaths call "potentized," is considered
   "structured water," because the water molecules have taken on a shape
   influenced by the original substance.

   The clusters start to assume a form that mimics the structure of the
   original substance itself. So even though the chemical can no longer
   be detected, its "image" is there, taken on by the water molecules.

This would be remarkable if true. Now for the really interesting
part. I found a web page devoted to debunking these claims,
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/ATG/. It seems that Dr. Lo, presently a
visiting professor at Caltech, is Director of R&D at a company called ATG
which is exploiting his technology with some very questionable products,
including an additive for your air filter that will improve your car's
performance, and the "Laundry Ball" which will clean your clothes without
detergent (both of these products have been forced off the market as
fraudulent in some states).

Lo's research has been described as involving the discovery of "room
temperature ice" (shades of Kurt Vonnegut!). A press release from ATG
from the site above reads:

   A Unique Non-Melting Ice Crystal Found in Room Temperature Water:
   Significant Implications for Medicine, Manufacturing, and the

   New research by a group of California scientists at the American
   Technologies Group have discovered, identified, and characterized a
   unique type of stable (non-melting) ice crystals that maintain an
   electrical field. These scientists and several leading university
   professors are finding significant applications of these unique ice
   crystals in medicine and pharmacy, in combustion enhancement, and in
   surfactants and cleansing agents.

   Specifically, they have been found to increase significantly the
   antibody and cell-mediated immune responses to infection and cancer.
   They have been found to improve gas combustion and reduce pollution
   emissions. They have also been found to improve significantly the
   efficacy of large industrial furnaces used to make ingredients for
   the manufacture of plastics.

   Shui-Yin Lo, PhD, a visiting professor at the California Institute
   of Technology and an internationally respected theoretical physicist,
   has led a team of scientists to confirm the existence and significant
   of the ice crystals and their electrical fields.

   The existence of these ice crystals has been verified with photographs
   from an electron microscope, providing two-dimension al pictures of
   the ice crystals, and the newly developed Atomic force microscope
   which provides three-dimensional photographs of the crystals. Dr. Lo
   calls these ice crystals, IE crystals ("I" stands for ice, and "E"
   for the electrical field that is emanated from them). The IE crystals
   look a bit like a lentil bean and have a flat disc configuration. The
   crystals congregate into clusters that range from 15nm to several
   microns in size and can even be seen with a light micrscope using
   high power magnification.

Read the site for more surprises: the Scientology connection, a possible
stock scam, board members who were involved with another scam company,
and other miraculous technologies coming soon from ATG (including the
health products hinted at above).

Oh, it also turns out that Lo got into the dilution research with the
specific intention of copying homeopathic procedures. He didn't just
stumble into it as the Wired article implies.


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