People have speculated for some time over whether substances, such as water, actually have a memory. However, it was in 1988 that a truly staggering article appeared in the journal Nature purporting to report the experimental observation of this property assumed by many to be merely an attribute of animals, particularly humans. The article in question [1] by a team, headed by Dr. Jacques Benveniste, claimed to have observed that extremely dilute biological agents were still capable of triggering relevant biological systems. In fact, they even claimed this to be so in the absence of actual physical molecules of the agents concerned. Some of the experiments had been reproduced in laboratories other than Benveniste‟s and members of these laboratories co-signed the article. However, as has been noted in a popular book on homeopathy [2], this article “provoked a flurry of comment and resulted in the rerun of the experiments under the „scientific‟ eyes of a fraud detector, a journalist and a magician.” Presumably, by „a journalist‟, the writer of this book meant the editor of Nature, but the person concerned was by training a physicist and might have been expected to have had some elementary knowledge of information theory and that it had been applied to physical systems. Although a relatively old subject in its own right at that time, information theory had been coming into physics via such books as that of Brillouin [3]. It might have been thought by some that this fact would have introduced a more cautious note into some of the condemnation of Benveniste‟s work.

The article itself appeared in the issue of the journal for 30th June 1988 and the ensuing furore was such that the then editor of Nature summed up his reading of the situation and called a halt to further correspondence in the issue of 27th October 1988, after allowing Dr. Benveniste a chance to answer his critics. What really caused the furore? The answer is best summed up by the „Editorial Reservation‟ which appeared with the original article. This said that “readers of this article may share the incredulity of the many referees who have commented on several versions of it during the past several months. The essence of the result is that an aqueous solution of an antibody retains its ability to evoke a biological response even when diluted to such an extent that there is negligible chance of there being a single molecule in any sample. There is no physical basis for such an activity.” In the later commentary, attention was drawn to the fact that one of the concerns of the editor of Nature was that the publication of the paper was “certain to excite the interest of the homeopathic community”. Given this, therefore, it is surprising the article ever appeared in print, but appear it did even though it was stated there was no physical basis to explain the claimed phenomena.

It is this final statement which is now called into question with the appearance of an article purporting to give the biophysical basis of the Benveniste experiments [4] and it is the purpose of this note to draw attention to this work which could be of vital importance in helping establish the scientific validity of homeopathic remedies within the medical fraternity as a whole.

About the author

PhD J. Dunning-Davies

University of Hull 
Department of Physics and Mathematics

Gold medal for research into cleaner fuels at Hull
Pioneering work in the search to find new clean energy sources by a lecturer at the University of Hull has earned recognition from a prestigious association, set up to promote work into alternative fuels.

Jeremy Dunning-Davies has been awarded a gold medal from the Santilli-Gaililei Association, the Hadronic Mechanics Prize, for the first and only structural generalisations of thermodynamics for matter, as well as antimatter since the birth of the discipline.

Hadronic Mechanics, an area pioneered by Ruggero Santilli, is an extension of quantum physics. Jeremy's focus for most of his working life has been thermodynamics - he has revolutionised the area by extending the field into Hadronic mechanics. This has enabled others to look at alternative theories of key areas, such as anti-matter.

It is an ongoing fascination for Jeremy and he continues to explore this area. Jeremy Dunning-Davies, Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Hull, who is also a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, said, "I'm a bit overwhelmed to have been given this honour and I feel Santilli is the real leader in this field. I shall endeavour to continue my research in this area in order to help find cleaner fuels."

Click here for an overview of his more than 100 publications.