Category Archives: technical

Exclusion zone water

Note: this is rather technical. 

This spring I had the pleasure of speaking briefly with a distinguished engineer, inventor, businessperson, and benefactor of science. He explained how he has recently become interested in the work of Prof. Gerald Pollack, who discovered what he calls the “4th phase of water”. The very term “4th phase of water” immediately raised an alarm bell in my head, since there are actually 19 or so known phases of water. I decided to check out what this “4th phase” was. It turns out this ‘phase’ has so far only been observed at the boundary with an odd material called Nafion, so really, it’s interfacial water with special properties, not a new phase of the liquid itself. My research focus the past three years has been understanding the microscopic details underlying the dielectric properties of water.  I am very interested in the structure and behavior of water around proteins and dissolved ions (and have read numerous papers on the subject) so naturally I am interested in Dr Pollack’s claims. Additionally, Pollack has shown that he can use the exclusion done phenomena to build a device that filters out nanospheres, and he claims his discovery can be used for desalination technology. He has not yet actually presented a functioning desalination apparatus, but he has filed a patent for the technology.
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A physicist’s visualization of Bayes’ theorem

Have you noticed that everyone is talking about Bayes’ theorem nowadays?

Bayes’ theorem itself is not very complicated. The human mind, however, is extremely bad at trying to gain an intuitive understanding of Bayes’ theorem based (Bayesian) reasoning. The counter-intuitive nature of Bayesian reasoning, combined with the jargon and intellectual baggage that usually accompanies descriptions of Bayes’ theorem, can make it difficult to wrap one’s mind around. I am a very visual thinker, therefore, I quickly came up with a visualization of the theorem. A little Googling shows that there are many different ways of visualizing Bayes’ theorem. A few months ago I came across a visualization of Bayes’ theorem which I found somewhat perplexing.  Even though mathematical truths are universal, they are internalized differently by every individual. I would love to hear whether others find my visualization approach useful. It is a very physicist-oriented visualization.
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Periodic Boundary Conditions

As promised , I shall now reveal why I had a bout of interest in polyhedra, as discussed in my last post.

[Sorry for those of you who were waiting on the edge of your seats for three weeks]

It all has to do with periodic boundary conditions (PBCs).

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Quantum effects in water

***Note: although I personally found writing this post to be a useful exercise, unfortunately it turned out to be a rather long, rambling and at times rather technical brain dump. There are enough topics mentioned here for dozens of future posts (not to suggest that I could write on all of the topics mentioned off the top of my head – most would require research on my part.) Likely certain things will be fleshed out in future posts. I would appreciate any feedback if there are particular things my readers would like to see in future posts.***

In my last post I made the rather vague statement that quantum effects account for “about 10%” of the properties of water. I was basing this off the well-established understanding that the hydrogen bond is roughly 10% quantum covalent and 90% electrostatic.

Still, no doubt some of my readers may be confused about what I mean by a “quantum effect”. In this post I hope to clarify the term and some of the confusions surrounding the classical / quantum distinction. I will also give some precise examples of quantum effects in water.

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