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Education Science

'Floating Bridge' Property of Water Found 191

eldavojohn writes "When exposed to high voltage, water does some interesting things. From the article, 'water in two beakers climbs out of the beakers and crosses empty space to meet, forming the water bridge. The liquid bridge, hovering in space, appears to the human eye to defy gravity. Upon investigating the phenomenon, the scientists found that water was being transported from one beaker to another, usually from the anode beaker to the cathode beaker. The cylindrical water bridge, with a diameter of 1-3 mm, could remain intact when the beakers were pulled apart at a distance of up to 25 mm.'"
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'Floating Bridge' Property of Water Found

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  • Great! (Score:4, Funny)

    by fmobus ( 831767 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:16AM (#20793509)
    Now we can build 25mm bridges to nowhere!! fp?
  • hm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:19AM (#20793535)
    Like a bridge *entirely *composed *of troubled water...?
  • I RTFA for a change (Score:5, Interesting)

    by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:22AM (#20793563) Homepage Journal
    and it makes me wonder.. where they talk about the changes in water density.

    IF you could find a way to change the density of water within living cells-- decrease slowly, and increase rapidly...

    by oh say, 10% or more from standard...

    When you decrease slowly, then cellular walls could expand to accomodate the increased volume without bursting...
    now your return the density to normal (if necassary).. and before the cells recover- you freeze the cells-- and the expansion of the frozen water does not cause massive gross cellular damage.

    now cyronics is much more achievable.. (of course, the voltages described do not seem condusive to application to living flesh,, but perhaps another method could be found for the same effect...)

    • by Jarjarthejedi ( 996957 ) <christianpinchNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:25AM (#20793573) Journal
      One would imagine that, firstly, the cell walls could not take too much expansion and would likely ditch a lot of the water, secondly, that the cell walls would return to normal at the same speed as the water (if they matched the expansion, then why not the contractions?) and that, thirdly, one of the biggest cryo problems is that the water surrounding the cells become crystals and pierce the fragile cells, which this does nothing to alleviate.
    • Actually... (Score:2, Informative)

      by moosehooey ( 953907 )
      Actually the problem with freezing isn't the expansion, the cells could stretch enough to allow that. The problem is the ice crystals that tend to slice up the cells like a million tiny rasor blades. A further problem is cracking of the ice while it's going from freezing down to liquid nitrogen temperature.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Actually, the problem isn't the *freezing* at all -- it's the thawing. When the system thaws, the reperfusion of oxygen into the tissue causes a sudden reanimation of biological processes that most organsims are unable to handle properly. Ice crystals alone don't general cause as much of a problem as the body's reaction to that damage. (Source: some Cell articles from a year or two ago, but I don't have a citation handy. Immunohistochemistry in chipmunk brain slices, I believe.)
        • Immunohistochemistry in chipmunk brain slices, I believe.

          That's the funniest sentence I've read all day.
        • by DrKyle ( 818035 )
          Actually, one big problem is that while instant freezing from N2(l) can easily be done, the thawing takes time. During that time the small ice crystals formed by a rapid freeze will actually grow together and make crystals which are large enough to damage the cells. Think about it this way: Most people have enjoyed a slush on hot summer days. After a while a slush left out will form one large ice chunk floating in the middle of a syrupy liquid. The large chunk is the fusing of smaller ice crystals, whe
    • by peterofoz ( 1038508 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:36AM (#20793671) Homepage Journal
      I'd be curious if this also occurs in another natural high-voltage environment - thunder clouds. Do water structures form in clouds? How does this affect hail production? I used to think that hail stones would be carried upward by winds and grow over iterations of freezing droplets, but if a high voltage causes droplets to form larger balls of water which then freeze as they drop, that would be a simpler process.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chmcginn ( 201645 ) *
        The static electricity in the clouds would certain be high enough voltage to do this, but I don't think it would be close enough together. In the experiment, the 'water bridge' was only able to be formed within a few mm of the anode & cathode. In the case of thunderclouds, the anode and cathode would be hundreds of meters apart.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The water in the research at hand is clean (distilled) to a high degree, to avoid ionic conductivity. The water in living cells is VERY conductive and when you use high direct voltages, does Bad Things to these cells.

      Now, high grequency alternating voltage would cause no adverse effect because it would cause for the electric current to flow on the surface of the body, but that's another story, and it does not affect the fluid inside the cells (think Tesla holding a glowing gas discharge lamp in his hand).
      • by saider ( 177166 )
        Alternating current would have the same (disastrous) effect.

        The fluorescent light trick you mention happens because the person is not grounded and no current flows through their body. But when the vapor atoms are brought to a high voltage, they become excited and fluoresce. The same thing happens with DC and high voltages.
        • Actually, current most definitely DOES flows through the body of the presenter. The skin effect is, however, small in the case of tesla coil frequencies. Fortunately, rather small current densities and high voltage allow for the cells not to be damaged, and the relatively high frequency will make possible for the nervous cells not to detect the current and no heart (or other muscle) spams occurs.

          Anyhow, current flows through their bodies, and whether they are grounded or not does not change this fact.
    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )
      The problem you get with cryogenics is that the ice crystals are breaking the cell walls regardless of the amount of water in the cell, and once the cell is thawed it leaks. The cell breakage is due to the fact that cells are freezing slowly (relatively) which allows for growth of larger crystals. If a way can be found to stop the creation of large ice crystals that breaks through the cells cryogenics will be possible.
    • Human cells have membranes, not walls. Only plants and bacteria have walls.
    • by pavon ( 30274 )
      Or you could increase the density of water for super-human powers, like instant brass knuckles. Although, if you wanted to preserve volume, you'd have to drink a lot of water beforehand and then expel it afterwords. You could achieve both of these by drinking some fluid that contained both water and a time-release diuretic. Also adds a nice subplot of a man caught in a self destructive cycle of addiction. They called him PubMan.
    • by kennygraham ( 894697 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:31PM (#20794029)

      When you decrease slowly, then cellular walls could expand to accomodate the increased volume without bursting...

      I don't wanna hear about your fancy new penis pump.

    • by Briareos ( 21163 )
      Screw cryongenics and water - find a way to change the density of fat cells, and most plastic surgeons will go out of business...

      np: Burnt Friedman - Need Is All You Love (ft. Theo Altenberg) (First Night Forever)
    • Actually, the cell walls are destroyed by the crystalization of water, not the expansion of it. The crystalization causes the water to "cut" through the walls like a knife... from the outside in... not from the inside out via expansion. There is also other chemical breakdowns that occur during freezing that cause even more damage. But, in either case, the density of the water isn't a factor.

    • by Cybrex ( 156654 )
      That's an interesting idea, but I'll put my money on vitrification, which is the current state-of-the-art process. Vitrification involves replacing a significant percentage of the inter- and intra-cellular water with a cryoprotectant which causes the cells to attain a glass state rather than forming ice crystals. It's not perfect, but it does go a long way toward eliminating freezing damage.
  • The Abyss (Score:5, Funny)

    by gadzook33 ( 740455 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:23AM (#20793569)
    So raise your hand if you think that was a Russian water-tentacle.
  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:32AM (#20793627) Homepage Journal
    I predict we'll be seeing homeopathic "medicine" made out of this magick water within a few weeks.
    • by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:49AM (#20793757)
      Sadly the parent should be moderated insightful rather than funny.
    • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:52AM (#20793769)

      I predict we'll be seeing homeopathic "medicine" made out of this magick water within a few weeks.

      Correction - that would be homeopathic "medicine" that doesn't contain a single molecule of this magick water...

      However, this is basically another way of making that amaxing wonder-drug called "placebo" which is so effective that it is the standard against which all other drugs are tested. And if the homeopath also sits you down, remembers your name from last time, gives you a nice cup of jasmine tea and has a nice sympathetic chat about your condition, how much stress you are under at work and whether you're eating properly... well, you probably stand a better-than-average chance of getting better.

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:07PM (#20793873) Homepage
        You do hit on an important point - people want to be treated by people who actually seem to care about the fact that they're suffering.

        Too many doctors just poke, prod, wrap it up in 3 minutes, and generally act like you're a nuiscience that they have to endure to collect their paycheck.

        I know somebody who had to wait a long time to visit a specialist, and took time to write up a brief one-page history of her condition and the various treatments to date and how they generally worked out. She also wrote up a list of medications (current, ones successfully used in the past, allergies, and unsuccessful medications). She also had a log of daily diagnostic tests as well.

        The doctor couldn't really be bothered to read any of it and frequently asked questions that would have been covered in the history. The answers to those questions weren't nearly as complete as what would have been found in the history as well. The doctor would suggest stuff contradicted by stuff tried in the past, which would get pointed out. Despite going around in circles a few time he still didn't bother to read the history. In the end he ordered some tests and sent her home (where she'll no doubt need to bug him to follow up).

        Would it have really hurt the doctor to spend all of 3 minutes reading the one page piece of paper which was obviously extremely important to his patient? Sure, he might notice a few mistakes in reasoning, and might be skeptical about some of the patient's conclusions, but perhaps it would at least reassure the patient if it seemed like the doctor even remotely cared about whether the patient actually recovered? And maybe the doctor would improve his success rate by at least considering all the information available - maybe it would contain some clue that would shape his reasoning?

        I work in IT and am often confronted with customers who have misdiagnosed the source of their technical problems. I just patiently listen to them, gather additional information, and then explain what my thoughts are and why I think they are correct. If you take the time to treat your customers as if they have a brain they will generally respect your opinions (they're coming to you for help, after all). If on the other hand you just brush them off without explaining yourself then you'll find yourself with few customers. And the medical profession is in for one heck of a shock when the voters are done with them at the rate they're currently going...
        • I work in IT and am often confronted with customers who have misdiagnosed the source of their technical problems. I just patiently listen to them, gather additional information, and then explain what my thoughts are and why I think they are correct. If you take the time to treat your customers as if they have a brain they will generally respect your opinions (they're coming to you for help, after all). If on the other hand you just brush them off without explaining yourself then you'll find yourself with fe

          • by Rich0 ( 548339 )
            BTW - I did want to respond to somebody else's comment about having to run through patients every 10 minutes to remain solvent. I do sympathize with this and clearly this is no way to properly practice medicine, and doctors are stuck in this mess as much as many patients are.

            The only thing I'd encourage is that more doctors need to treat their patients with dignity and with decent people-skills. When you need to get them in and out at least try to explain why thing seem so rushed - maybe they'll call up t
            • Your correct to hassle the docs about being rushed / insensitive / etc. It's certainly not universal, but not uncommon either.

              I'd still like to reboot patients. Actually, rebooting the whole system would be a good idea, except I have a sneaking suspicion that the boot up screen would be something like:

              System not found.
              (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail

              Then what would we do?

    • I bet its already being sold.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:33AM (#20793645)
    We know your tricks, Jesus. You were generating large amounts of voltage through each of your legs. It's only a matter of time before we figure the other ones out!
    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )
      I have heard about a more mundane explanation there and that was that the sea in question actually had ice on it - probably in patches.

      Or as the joke goes : Fisherman and Priest is out with a boat and suddenly the fisherman jumps overboard and it looks to the priest as if he is walking on water so the priest does the same thing and got himself submerged. The fisherman returns him to the boat and the priest asks "Are your belief so strong that you can walk on water but mine is too weak?" The fisherman repl

      • by Belacgod ( 1103921 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:58PM (#20794279)
        After the resurrection, Jesus goes around gathering his old Apostles. Wary of fraud, Thomas demands a test to prove that he's the real Jesus. So they go out to the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus walks out...only to find that he's sunk up to his knees. The apostles begin to disperse. Jesus asks Simon what went wrong, and Simon replies, "Last time you tried it, you didn't have holes in your feet!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by c_forq ( 924234 )
      They day we figure out how to make water into wine 98% of Higher education in America will cease to exist.
      • by grumling ( 94709 )
        1) plant grape seed
        2) Add water (it's what plants crave!)
        3) harvest fruit
        4) squash juice out of fruit
        5) put juice in sterile barrel
        6) add yeast
        7) wait a month or two

        • by c_forq ( 924234 )
          You can already do something like that with a lot less work using water, milk jugs, balloons (have to let the container expand as fermentation takes place), juice concentrate, sugar, and yeast. It only takes weeks instead of months. We did it when I was in the dorms, I'm sure there are people still doing it today.
      • by chochos ( 700687 )
        I can turn wine into water...
    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )
      Well, it would have been funny, but Moses parted the Red Sea not Jesus. Its also not funny becasuse this only works with distiled water the NaCl in sea water would prevent this from working. Sorry still a miracle...but keep trying I am sure God finds your ignorance a pleasant diversion.
      • Well, it would have been funny, but Moses parted the Red Sea not Jesus. Its also not funny becasuse this only works with distiled water the NaCl in sea water would prevent this from working. Sorry still a miracle...but keep trying I am sure God finds your ignorance a pleasant diversion.

        Maybe you missed the whole "walking on water" part during your mandatory daily Bible study?

        "Still a miracle" ... or maybe "still an ancient folktale that has about as much credibility as a record of actual events as does the
      • but Moses parted the Red Sea not Jesus.

        Wait a minute... Moses and Jesus are different people? Now I'm confused. Next you'll be telling me the the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are, in fact, three entirely different entities...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cno3 ( 197688 )
      Sounds like a job for the Mythbusters!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What does empty space mean here?
    Was the experiment done in a vacuum, open air, or in space?
  • by Keyper7 ( 1160079 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:05PM (#20793859)

    ...so you don't have to cope with skeptical people.

    - What you said that is?
    - A water bridge.
    - That's bullshit.
    - It's true. The water is floating between the beakers.
    - Oh, really? Then I guess it's okay for me to touch to confirm it, right?
    - I don't recommend that.
    - I knew it. You're so full of shit.
    - Okay, touch it if you want. But I wouldn't do that.
    - *laughs* Yeah, I'll just touch this "water bridge" and we can't move on with our... AAHHH!!!
    - *increases voltage gradually* That's for calling me a liar. Asshole.

  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:17PM (#20793925) Homepage
    Since the water molecule is asymmetrical, and can sometimes be pictured as the head of mickey mouse with the head as oxygen and the ears as hydrogen atoms it sure is intriguing already there.

    And to make things worse :-) it can be formed in a large number of types of ice, not only one type. Which type depends on the pressure involved. (I don't have the exact figure about how many types of ice that exists, but I think it's at least eight.) Some types of ice has a higher density than the liquid form of water while other as we are familiar with has a lower which results in the fact that ice floats. If ice hadn't been able to float life as we know it wouldn't have formed, or at least the oceans would be a lot different since the bottom would be covered in ice.

    Depending on the temperature and pressure water can change state from solid to gas or vice versa without going to the liquid phase. There is also at least one point at which the properties that separates the gas form and the liquid form ceases to have a meaning and a fourth state is entered. If I remember it correctly it appears at a temperature of about 340 degrees C. (I may be wrong)

    And even if we don't think about it as such water is actually one of the best solvents around. More often we think about some petrol or alcohol when we are saying solvent, but water is also our friend here. The reason why water and oil doesn't mix is because water is a polar molecule with a positive and a negative side while the molecules oil is built on are electrically neutral. An intermediate here are alcohols (a few of them drinkable, but most of them not - or only once) where one end of the molecule is electrically neutral and friend with oil while the other is polarized and water-friendly. This means that alcohols can be used when you want to mix water and oil. In some cases it is possible to create an emulsion of water and oil too, and one of the most common is mayonnaise (which most people has been in contact with).

    Sometimes the term heavy water is making it's way through the news. It is actually ordinary water - chemically speaking - which means that there is no problem if you should drink it - except that it's rather expensive. The difference is that one or both of the hydrogen atoms in the molecule has an extra neutron or two. These forms are called deuterium or tritium. The extra neutron involved means that the atoms can be fused with each other to create helium. It is possible to fuse plain hydrogen atoms too, but the amount of energy needed is much larger and not precisely what can be done in a normal lab.

    At least two cases has been in movies or TV series that I know of that refers to heavy water and special properties (neither of them plausible) and the first was a humor series involving English POW:s in a German camp where they were trying to seed the idea of the wonder properties of heavy water when it comes to hair growth to a bald German. The second was that it could be used to cure cancer. (don't believe either)

  • by ciaran.mchale ( 1018214 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:39PM (#20794111) Homepage
    I have a vague memory that in one episode of MacGyver, the hero did something like this to redirect water from the corrupt landowner's property to nearby drought-stricken peasant's fields. He used a car battery initially to get the voltage required to create the water bridge. But when the car battery started to die, he used the water to drive a small generator (made from an empty Wite-Out bottle, some fuse wire and scuba diver flippers) that produced the electricity to keep the water bridge going. It was a great episode, even if the perpetual-motion machine was a bit far fetched.
    • It's not a perpetual motion machine, as far as I can tell, unless you necessarily need more electricity to make the water bridge as you'd gain from the water falling, but as long as it's going downhill, there's at least the possibility of a net power gain, right?
    • by aug24 ( 38229 )
      Not that I ever saw it, but it needn't be perpetual motion - the water can be allowed to fall (downhill onto peasant's land, perhaps through a tube to reduce friction) till it has kinetic energy, use the kinetic energy to generate electricity, and send the electricity back up to the pump station.

      Did I really just comment on a MacGuyver ep?

  • American beer does the very same thing.. /thought it was funny //is american.. drank american beer last night

  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @03:03PM (#20795119)
    I'm thinking of a bartenderless bar, controlled by some OS.
    And I'm talking about alcohol diluted enough that its not going to become a Flaming Moe.
  • I have some questions. Maybe somebody with a 20KV power supply and rubber boots could find this out..

    1. Would work with other polar solutions? Of course you want one that won't combust..

    2. It seems this must be in operation at small scales, where static electricity easily makes huge charges? link [amasci.com]

    3. If you took 2 icicles and made a V out of them could you make a Jacob's Ladder high voltage traveling arc with them? (maybe the tips would shoot off into someone's eye so we should use ice blocks tilted away from
  • by permaculture ( 567540 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:49PM (#20795805) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of a story about Queen Victoria (of Britain.) Someone was showing her around a factory where they were producing wire for electrical street lighting, and she asked:
                        "How do you drill the hole in the wire for the electricity to go through?"
    While this revealed that she didn't understand how electricity works, it was rather a good question.

    How does this relate to the matter at hand? Well, we need to come up with some good questions to help us work out how this water bridge thing works.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."