Water Dynamics at the Root of Metamorphosis in Living Organisms
Water Dynamics at the Root of Metamorphosis in Living Organisms
Emilio Del Giudice, Paola Rosa Spinetti and Alberto Tedeschi
Published on 3 September 2010 by Water (Special Issue ISSN 2073-4441, “Water: Facts without Myths”)
Liquid water has been recognized long ago to be the matrix of many processes, including life and also rock dynamics. Interactions among biomolecules occur very differently in a non-aqueous system and are unable to produce life. This ability to make living processes possible implies a very peculiar structure of liquid water. According to modern Quantum Field Theory (QFT), a complementary principle (in the sense of Niels Bohr) holds between the number N of field quanta (including the matter field whose quanta are just the atoms/molecules) and the phase Ф. This means that when we focus on the atomic structure of matter it loses its coherence properties and, vice versa, when we examine the phase dynamics of the system its atomic structure becomes undefined. Superfluid liquid Helium is the first example of this peculiar quantum dynamics. In the present paper we show how consideration of the phase dynamics of liquid water makes the understanding of its peculiar role in the onset of self-organization in living organisms and in ecosystems possible.
Keywords: water; coherence; quantum electrodynamics; dissipative structures; interfacial water; biological evolution; ecosystems. ________________________________________________________________________________
A very long time ago, water was recognized to be the matrix of life; Thales  stressed this point, following maybe the teachings of more ancient traditions. In recent times, a huge amount of findings have been collected in regard to the role of water in living dynamics. In the years following the Second World War, many reports appeared showing that living organism‘s surfaces were coated by thick layers of a peculiar water substance exhibiting the properties of a ―liquid ice‖; these layers reached depths of up to hundreds of water molecule diameters . In the 1950s, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi admitted that biologists were still unable to provide a formally satisfactory definition of the difference between ―animate‖ and ―inanimate‖ objects since ―…biology has forgotten water or never thought of it‖ . The main proposal of Szent-Gyorgyi [4,5] was that the organized water existing close to the biological surfaces was able to induce a very long lasting electronic excitation of the different molecular species present, thereby making their activation possible and selective mutual attraction. As a matter of fact, most biochemical reactions are redox reactions, which demand a supply of electrons. However, both biomolecules and isolated water molecules are not electron donors, since electrons are tightly bound to parent molecules with binding energies of several eVs. In the conventional theory of liquid water, this paradox cannot easily appear, since the existence of the liquid is taken for granted (no description is provided for the dynamics of the phase transition vapor-liquid and the consequent large increase in density). Starting from an ensemble of molecules, which are already close enough to stay within the range of static interaction, the computer simulation calculates the shape of the network formed by a small number of molecules (at most one thousand). Hence, the probability of the movement of protons along the network is estimated through computer simulation; in this way it has been found  that it is possible to recover the mechanism introduced by Grotthuss  200 years ago. In the conventional approach the importance of the collective effects has been recognized. Stanley and Teixeira  for instance point out that ―…a description of molecular behavior of water by an effective pair potential will never be completely realistic, because of the existence of many-body forces and the complexity of water‖. The difference between the conventional approach and the Quantum Field Theory (QFT) approach is just in the size of the aggregates of molecules. The aggregates emerging from the ab initio calculations, which use static interaction, only have a size of a few tens of Å at the most, whereas the water Coherence Domains (CD), as we will see in the following, span over 0.1 m and include millions of molecules. Computer simulations usually deal with regions whose size doesn‘t exceed some tens of Angstroms. The extrapolation of the results to more extended regions implies the assumption of the homogeneity of the liquid on larger scales, which is just the assumption to be proved. Moreover the problem of the condensation of the liquid, namely the transition from a rarefied vapor where the intermolecular distance is 36 Å to the dense liquid, where this distance falls off to 3 Å, is not addressed. What is the dynamic process that arises abruptly at 100 °C and 1 atm and brings the widely separated vapor molecules to a close distance? Why is this process not a gradual evolution but occurs in a discontinuous way at a given thermodynamic condition? Actually the problem of the dynamics of the phase transitions has not been addressed so far in the conventional model, which addresses only its thermodynamics. The solution to the problem implies the recognition of the long-range messenger able to attract the initially separated molecules to a much closer distance, namely a messenger able to establish a communication among molecules which are 36 Å apart. This messenger must be the electromagnetic field, which is the field that modern quantum physics considers responsible for the interaction between particles, in this case the molecules that are not at rest but are subjected to quantum and thermal fluctuations. The conventional approach introduces the a priori not unreasonable approximation that only the static part of the interaction is relevant. The QFT approach includes also the non static interaction, which has a much longer range than the static one. Let us come back to the problem of the electron transfer in liquid water. The ionization potential of a water molecule is 12.60 eV , an energy corresponding to soft X-rays. In this situation, what could be the source of the electrons supplying the redox reactions? Szent-Gyorgyi  was able to recognize that water at interfaces was just the electron supplier, but this would have demanded a deep reshuffling of the electron clouds of water molecules. Szent-Gyorgyi suggested that, at least in living organisms, there were two different electron energy levels of water molecules, the excited state and the ground state. According to this suggestion, a voltage should appear at the boundary between interfacial water and bulk water. He also suggested that this property should give rise to energy transfer in biological systems and to the long lasting electronic excitations which were observed. In the following decades, however, mainstream Molecular Biology focused on the interactions among biomolecules [10-12], neglecting any possible role of water. Simultaneously, water investigations focused on the inner structures of pure water, which is actually an abstraction since there is no such thing in Nature as pure water, because water always contains other molecular species, first of all atmospheric gases. The problem of electron transfer  in the water of living organisms has not been addressed. Recently, a surge of interest has arisen concerning the role of water in organizing structure, which makes the emergence of complex dynamics possible . As an example, we quote here recent reports on the presence of coherent structures within organisms, which make specific biological functions possible. We refer in particular to the studies on photosynthesis [15-17]. In these articles, a very long time of coherence of chloroplasts is reported, possibly larger than predicted by the available theories of biomolecules. Since theoretical investigations based on Quantum ElectroDynamics (QED) have suggested the spontaneous emergence of coherence in liquid water [18,19], an appealing possibility is that the coherent electromagnetic field responsible for the coherent molecule structures in water, which are in principle very long lasting, could explain the peculiar coherence of chloroplasts. An additional indication of the organizing role of water has been recently provided  in the frame of the investigations on the Beloussov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) phenomenon, which is a regular time oscillation of the concentrations of chemical reagents within a suitably prepared system. It has been shown that the regular oscillation appears only when the amount of water bound to the surface exceeds a critical threshold; an indication emerges that water could play the essential organizing role. In the present paper, we wish to discuss the requirements imposed by the structure of water to its ability of governing molecular dynamics within itself. In this frame we will try to understand the rather unique role of water in living organisms (actually water cannot be replaced by any other H-bonded liquid), and the differences between the normal bulk water and ―special waters‖ such as those close to the surfaces, which mimic the water in biological systems.
Giudice, E.D.; Spinetti, P.R.; Tedeschi, A. “Water Dynamics at the Root of Metamorphosis in Living Organisms”. Water 2010, 2, 566-586
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