Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The origin of life – is it in your water?

Layers of EZ (exclusion zone) water next to hydrophilic material
From Prof Gerald H Pollack's TED lecture

Sackerson recently emailed Professor Jerry Pollack with a number of questions about his discovery of light-driven exclusion zones in water. Professor Pollack’s replies were both prompt and interesting enough to prompt further posts.

Here’s one obvious possibility. Highly speculative I agree, but surely too fascinating to ignore.

Question. The H3O2 layers suggest that their construction liberates hydrogen gas. What happens to it - does it bind with dissolved oxygen in seawater? If using pure distilled water in a non-oxygen atmosphere, would it generate hydrogen gas?

Prof Pollack’s answer. We're not so sure about hydrogen has. Certainly EZ buildup generates protons. Whether those protons normally collect to form hydrogen gas remains uncertain. On the other hand, the fact that salt water bombarded with RF/microwave radiation can catch fire (see book) implies that hydrogen has could, at least under certain circumstances, be generated. One thinks also of Brown's gas.

So when light shines on water in contact with a hydrophilic surface, a proton gradient across the exclusion zone is created automatically. Now proton gradients are associated with a range of basic energy-related biochemical processes. 

The proton gradient can be used as intermediate energy storage for heat production and flagellar rotation. In addition, it is an interconvertible form of energy in active transport, electron potential generation, NADPH synthesis, and ATP synthesis/hydrolysis.

The electrochemical potential difference between the two sides of the membrane in mitochondria, chloroplasts, bacteria, and other membranous compartments that engage inactive transport involving proton pumps, is at times called a chemiosmotic potential or proton motive force (see chemiosmosis). In this context, protons are often considered separately using units of either concentration or pH.

Suppose we imagine Earth’s surface before life evolved. No microorganisms, no plants and certainly no animals. But there is water and sunlight. Picture a shallow pool of water in contact with a hydrophilic surface such as clay particles. As yet there are no organic compounds in the water, let alone organic life.

The sun shines down on that pool of water to create exclusion zones at the surface of the clay particles. The exclusion zones form proton gradients, a ready-made energy source for many chemical reactions.

So even before organic molecules have a chance to combine and recombine into the building blocks of life, an inexhaustible energy source may have been waiting, ready to go.

If so, then proton gradients within our biochemistry are an unimaginably ancient inheritance. Not merely from our earliest biochemistry, but before biochemistry even existed here on Earth. Before even the simplest organic molecules had begun to take advantage of the subtle properties of water.

Note. As far as I am aware, this speculative possibility has not been raised by Professor Pollack, but his work is comparatively new to me and I may be wrong.  

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

iClegg is go!

In the run up to next years's general election, Lib Dem strategists plan to relaunch the career of party leader Nick Clegg, branding him as a vibrant, technically sophisticated leader for the digital age.

Dubbed iClegg by his young team of tech-savvy PR minders, Mr Clegg will feature in a series of cutting-edge promotional YouTube clips such as the one above.

Here, the narrative has him on his smartphone arranging an important global meeting with world leaders Kofi Annan, Nicolas Sarkozy and Haile Selassie.

Monday, 21 April 2014


Bamburgh Castle

We're up in Northumberland for a few days, so blogging may be light. 

As I sit here sipping champagne, I can see Holy Island through one window and as dusk falls I can just make out the Cheviots through the other window. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Fourth Phase of Water

I've come across exclusion zones in water before. It's a fascinating subject, highlighting the subtle and complex properties of this apparently simple compound.

A Citroën by any other name...

When the Derbyshire Times does a puff piece for Citroën , spelling the name correctly would be a fine place to start.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


Political language is weird.

For example, what on earth is a “conservative” supposed to be? From Wikipedia we have this as a broad definition.

Conservatism as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions. A person who follows the philosophies of conservatism is referred to as a traditionalist or conservative.

Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others, called reactionaries, oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were"

Fair enough, but almost all of us are deeply conservative in one way or another. Some who do not count themselves as conservative appear to have extremely conservative ideals. Their means may not be conservative but their ends most certainly are.

I'm thinking of that fake middle-class radicalism which aims to overturn certain social structures as a means to an end, the end being an unchanging micro-managed utopia where nothing changes ever again. 

For instance, the belief that we must do something to avert catastrophic climate change has to be the most pathologically conservative notion ever dredged up from the murky depths of the human psyche. Even the climate must be managed and subject to legal restraint. An obviously bonkers aspiration, yet I’m sure the whole crazy mess is seen as radical by its ultra-conservative proponents.

Climate mitigation is radical, but only in a profoundly conservative sense where the end result is UN-controlled energy policies across the entire globe. I suppose one could call that radical in its means, but fanatically conservative in its desired ends.

On the other hand, some of those who claim to be conservatives often seem intent on conserving their privileges at the expense of the rest of us. I'm thinking of wealthy conservatives, so nothing new there.

Yet further down the social scale we find de facto conservatives filling the ranks of both the traditional left and right. Political colours seem to make little difference. The means vary but the ends are profoundly conservative.

It's no surprise of course. Many of us have some degree of financial security in which we have invested or intend to invest a huge chunk of our working lives. Naturally we want to conserve what we already have, including our expectations. 

So the controlling classes invent an endless stream of scare stories to maintain a permanent sense of unease in the bowels of those of us without the security of wealth.

They are happy for us to remain deeply and irredeemably conservative and for our radicalism to be even more conservative. The political brand we favour, the cross we make in the ballot box, none of that matters to them.  

Modern political games are bankrolled by conservatism - ours.

Google humour

I haven't seen this example of Google humour before. Does it always appear?