Magnet doubles hydrogen yield from water splitting


298 points | by thunderbong 208 days ago


  • p1mrx 208 days ago

    > it roughly doubled the current density at the anode without requiring any additional voltage

    Do I understand correctly that the magnet just makes the anode behave like a bigger anode, and does not make the process more energy-efficient?

    • philipkglass 208 days ago

      Sort of. It keeps the overpotential of the oxygen evolution reaction down at increased current densities. This means that a compact electrode arrangement can split water faster without losing efficiency. Normally more current would increase both current density and overpotential, so that efficiency would go down.

      This discovery maintains efficiency that would normally require a larger electrode surface. It doesn't double the chemical energy output from the electrical energy input. That would be impossible as conventional electrolyzers are already more than 50% efficient. It (potentially) improves the economic efficiency more than the thermodynamic efficiency.

      • strainer 207 days ago

        I think an efficiency improvement is also perhaps implied. They say a strong magnetic field doubles the current flow with no change in input voltage. Basically with V=IR and Power = I* I* R ,if the current has increased without change in voltage then the resistance has gone down.

        In a perfectly efficient process all of the resistance would owe to H2O splitting, but we know that's not the case - about half the resistance energy was creating waste heat.

        If its like an LEDs resistance which has a voltage drop component which produces light and a linear ohmic resistance which produces waste heat. This would be like getting twice the current (and light) across an LED from the same voltage.

        Either the voltage drop has been reduced, or the ohmic resistance is reduced. Either way, we can lower the voltage and produce the same amount of light that was possible without the magnetic hack. Same current with less voltage is less power, for same amount of light or H2O split.

        • philipkglass 207 days ago

          Yes, it improves efficiency under certain circumstances. This approach doesn't appear help if you wanted to set a record for world's most efficient water electrolyzer. But it does offer an efficiency improvement at industrially relevant (high) current densities. A lot of reported efficiency advances are relevant to setting records in the laboratory, but would be irrelevant to industry for various reasons. This appears to be the rarer case of the opposite limitation: not useful for setting new efficiency records in the laboratory, but potentially useful for improving industrial devices.

          If you look at the full paper through sci-hub [1], it's an efficiency improvement specifically at higher current densities. In the left hand side of Figure 1, the magnetic/non-magnetic curves are indistinguishable at very low current densities. Those low current densities also have the lowest overvoltage and highest efficiency per gram of H2 produced. But for an industrially optimized device you want to push production rates higher for a given electrode area, which requires more current density, which also requires more voltage. Higher current density implies higher energy wastage since the voltage has to go up too.

          The voltage increase with higher current density rises more slowly in the presence of a magnetic field. By the time current density reaches 50 mA/cm^-2, the setup with the magnetic field needs several millivolts less than the control setup without a magnetic field.


          • strainer 207 days ago

            Thanks. Tantalizingly, some plain efficiency measurements seem to be contained in articles supplementary material.

            > "Online O2 detection also confirmed quantitative OER Faradaic efficiency with and without the presence of a magnetic field (Supplementary Fig. 17)."

            But it looks to me like this effect is demonstrated as really significant already, for all the catalysts bar one. Application of it cant be far away. A bit like sticking a magnet on an engine block and getting loads more horsepower !

            • ogrisel 205 days ago

              > A bit like sticking a magnet on an engine block and getting loads more horsepower !

              Typical motors used in electric cars are a lot more powerful and efficient than their internal combustion engine counterparts ;)

          • stevespang 207 days ago

            . . . about half the resistance energy was creating waste heat.

            Would be interesting to see if they measured temperature differences, with and without magnet. A laser infra-red thermometer works well, even a $30 model at Harbor freight

        • TaylorAlexander 208 days ago

          Good question. Energy efficiency is what’s really important.

          • nomel 208 days ago

            For generating hydrogen for use, total cost is most important. Cost reductions are just as important as energy reductions since they both bring total cost down. This is a potential cost reduction.

            • Qwertious 207 days ago

              The cheaper renewables get, the less important energy efficiency becomes.

              Meanwhile, if the build-cost gets low enough then it suddenly becomes worth installing electrolysers for those occasional times when the cost of electricity goes negative and all that matters is throughput.

          • dr_dshiv 208 days ago

            Since this thread is about water splitting and woo, I thought I'd share my favourite example of using radio wave resonance to burn saltwater.

            Because that sounds so absolutely nutty, nobody seems to notice the published evidence that it actually works. The energy efficiency is so-so -- but the point is that the woo-connection creates a sort of forcefield around the topic, preventing scientific study.

            You'd hope it would produce the opposite effect. E.g, "wow, this has public interest, let's test and disprove -- and maybe make a practical discovery"

            • jodrellblank 208 days ago

              If you want it to be taken seriously, why do you - and Popular Mechanics - describe it in such woowoo terms?

              "using radio wave resonance to burn saltwater." ; "had discovered a seemingly impossible phenomenon: a way to burn salt water by exposing it to radio waves." - The salt water isn't burning, burning Hydrogen isn't seemingly impossible, separating Hydrogen from water isn't seemingly impossible. The description is nothing like what's actually happening.

              the effect can be achieved with a much lower energy catalyst: radio waves are present in everything from microwaves to televisions. - ??? is this trying to imply you can mine radio waves from a television and use them for this? What a bizarre sentence.

              "Nobody is claiming that you get more energy out than you put in," he says.; They even envision a future in which a vehicle can run off its radio's frequency waves.

              .. is that not getting more out than you put in? A vehicle which generates radio waves, uses them to split seawater, burns the gas, uses that power to generate the radio waves, and also motion? Then the burnt H and O turn into ash (H2O) and drip back into the "fuel" tank to be burned again? That's not water as a "fuel", that's an overunity machine, perpetual motion.

              If they're not claiming you get more energy out than you put in, stop claiming that. In the video the inventor is talking about how their Sterling Engine "could be a car engine if you wanted" but if you're putting in mains electric power to this, you'd be better off connecting that to an electric motor and saying "that could be a car engine" - it couldn't, it's mains electric powered.

              This is a neat electrolysis without electrodes idea, but why(??) is it being presented as the woowoo idea "water powered car"?

              • dr_dshiv 207 days ago

                I presented it in woo woo terms to make my point. Popular Mechanics put it in woo woo terms to sell copies.

                The point here is: holy crap, radio waves can provide electrodeless water splitting and physicists don't care because it sounds like woo.

                Of course the public and the press will see salt water burning and freak out -- but that excitement shouldn't be a reason for physicists to ignore the phenomena.

                • yetihehe 207 days ago

                  > radio waves can provide electrodeless water splitting and physicists don't care

                  Probably they don't care, because as soon as that water is split, it is ignited and burned again, so you can't have any hydrogen, you have just changed some rf energy into heat, losing some energy into heat in rf setup... It's easier to just heat something directly with elecrticity. Now if someone invented a way for oxygen and hydrogen split that way to remain split for more than milliseconds, physicists would be more interested.

                  • phkahler 207 days ago

                    >> Now if someone invented a way for oxygen and hydrogen split that way to remain split for more than milliseconds, physicists would be more interested

                    Sounds exactly like a cool research area for physicists.

                  • dr_dshiv 207 days ago

                    Sounds like a good research question for physicists :)

                    • ChrisLomont 207 days ago

                      I suspect physicists look at it for a moment and realize:

                      Converting electricity into radio waves with energy losses, sent through the air with energy losses, to bombard molecules, which then resonate with the waves to use electromagnetic forces to split molecules, will always be less efficient than simply using that original electric current to do the same thing directly with less energy loss.

                      This will always be energy inferior to simple electrolysis.

                      • dr_dshiv 207 days ago

                        That may be; I don't know the proof. There may be combined approaches, too, with potential for lowest system cost.

                        Here is a patent from an Israeli company on this topic, granted just this year:

                        • ChrisLomont 207 days ago

                          >There may be combined approaches, too, with potential for lowest system cost.

                          This simply violates basic physics. Turning electricity into radio waves only to turn them back into electricity is always going to lose energy. This is fundamental.

                          In a simplistic undergrad setting the absolute best you could hope for is zero loss, but there is no gain. In the real world with real materials there will be loss.

                          >Here is a patent from an Israeli company on this topic,

                          Patents are granted on all sorts of nonsense. Having a patent is not proof of usefulness, or efficiency, or marketability, or even if it is better than any other competitor. A patent means the material seemed novel enough to the patent inspector that after repeated rounds of claim modifications and paperwork he wan convinced the claimed item is new. Usually patents are on a small piece of a technology, since it, like this one, builds on a lot of pieces coming before it (hence all the other patents cited).

                          • dr_dshiv 207 days ago

                            Every transformation will lose energy. Electrolysis isn't lossless either, hence the possibility for efficiency gains (or real-world cost reductions) through a combined approach.

            • nicodds 207 days ago

              This is one of the magnetic field effect on radical pairs recombination.

              Once you put a magnet near the site of a chemical reaction where radical pairs are formed, the rate of the reaction may be changed, due to the additional energy levels introduced by the spin-magnetic field interaction.

              Anyway, in order to have such kind of effects, you need an energy intensive process responsible for the radical pairs creation.

            • danw1979 207 days ago

              The article says that "about half" of the world's hydrogen is made by steam reformation of methane, and only 4% is made by electrolysis of water.

              Where does the other 46% come from ?

              • simonh 207 days ago

                Interesting, from Wikipedia: There are four main sources for the commercial production of hydrogen: natural gas, oil, coal, and electrolysis; which account for 48%, 30%, 18% and 4% of the world’s hydrogen production respectively.

                All the hydrocarbon sources are apparently processed by steam reforming.

              • mkj 208 days ago

                Is there any chance a similar magnetic effect could be used to improve performance of rechargeable batteries?

                • hoseja 208 days ago

                  I don't think those have chemistries with triplet states.

                • pkrein 207 days ago

                  Would this make hydrogen fuel cells (the reverse of electrolysis) have double the power density as well? That would be meaningful for reducing hydrogen fuel cell weight and cost per vehicle.

                  • skykooler 207 days ago

                    I doubt it. The reason this works is that when combining oxygen atoms from two water molecules to produce an oxygen molecule, they need to have parallel spins; the magnet aligns the spins and therefore speeds up this process. However, when breaking the O2 molecule to combine it with hydrogen (in a fuel cell), the atoms are already parallel in spin and are going to an unordered state, so there's no benefit to attempting to align them.

                    • daveloyall 207 days ago

                      Ok, thank you. How about lead-acid battery charging or discharging?

                  • hinkley 208 days ago

                    > After testing a variety of different anode materials, the ICIQ team found that the effect depended on the degree of anode magnetization and did not work at all with nonmagnetic anodes. This suggests that the effect is linked to the electron spin states of oxygen intermediates bound to the catalyst, says Galán-Mascarós.

                    So how do the production rates of magnetic versus non-magnetic anodes compare?

                    • hanniabu 208 days ago

                      Sounds like non-zero vs zero

                      • nitrogen 208 days ago

                        No, that is just referring to the magnetic enhancement. A nonmagnetic electrode will still work for electrolysis. The op has a fair question -- what is the quantified gain of this magnetic effect over traditional electrolysis?

                    • cr0sh 207 days ago

                      This is very interesting, but at the same time it seems like something the "free energy" people would have done and found a long time ago?

                      Maybe they did, but were dismissed out of hand due to everything else in their woo-based world?

                      Or maybe they tried it and saw no (or little) difference; the article did say that the effect wasn't shown to happen with every non-magnetic anode material - and I doubt that the "free energy" researchers tried a particular nickel-coated foam type of anode...

                      All of that aside, I do wonder if there are any "off-the-shelf" anode materials whereby one could experiment with this effect?

                      • carapace 207 days ago

                        Short answer: Yes.

                        If you take the time to trawl through Rex Research you would find this and a bunch of other stuff. Most of it is BS but the bits that aren't... there is some mind-blowing stuff that just hasn't reached critical mass in the collective consciousness yet.

                        For example, the device of Przemyslaw Lagiewka, which has to be seen to be believed (there are videos):

                        > A small Fiat 126p, going 45 km per hour, was driven into a concrete wall. The bumper was not damaged. The driver wore no seatbelts. The inertial reaction, which should have thrown him onto the hood, did not occur. The stopping distance was only 16 centimetres.




                      • jacknews 208 days ago

                        so what is the actual efficiency now - ie what is the energy content of the h2 produced, compared to the energy input??

                        • Beltiras 208 days ago

                          Sibling comment has the info. This is not an increase in energy efficiency just conversion efficiency. You pump in more amperes over the same voltage and manage to split twice the amount of water with the same size array. Still great thou. Anything that reduces the infrastructure needs to produce H2 is a good thing.

                          • jacknews 207 days ago

                            thanks, and in fact the wikipedia entry for electrolysis also has lots of interesting info.

                            It seems efficiency is between 70-85% depending on method.

                            Interestingly it seems there is potential to be >100% electrical efficiency if the water is also heated.

                            I can envisage concentrated heat-and-PV electrolysis plants.

                        • faissaloo 206 days ago

                          So we know what happens when you put the magnet at the anode, now what happens if you put it at the cathode? Hell, what happens when you put magnets on both?

                          • hinkley 207 days ago

                            Aren't there field lines between the anode and cathode in an electrolysis system? You have current moving, so there must be. I wonder how those affect the process.

                            • gpvos 207 days ago

                              This is a fairly obvious thing to try, and indeed one of the commenters writes that he discovered this already sometime after 1982 (too bad he is not more precise).

                              • wyxuan 208 days ago

                                Water splitting? Why didn’t they call it hydrolysis?

                                • adr_ 208 days ago

                                  Hydrolysis is chemical breakdown via reaction with water. This is electrolysis. But it's a popsci article, so they put that in the subtitle. "Splitting" makes sense to people who don't use terms like hydrolysis and electrolysis frequently.

                                  • wyxuan 208 days ago

                                    Oops. I stand corrected. It's been a while since I've used hydrolysis and electrolysis.

                                  • nxpnsv 208 days ago

                                    Your misunderstanding is a perfect illustration of why writers prefer simpler terms. That said, I’m sure you’d been ok with electrolysis, and anyone uncertain could look it up. Try looking up water splitting likely yields Old Testament stuff. In short: I agree, why not use the correct term and then explain it?

                                    • arnarbi 208 days ago

                                      > Try looking up water splitting likely yields Old Testament stuff.

                                      In fact, it yields exactly what we want:

                                      On my first page of Google results, all of them are about electrolysis, with a variety of diagrams from image search.

                                      • ClumsyPilot 208 days ago

                                        Google gives notoriously different results for me an or my parent'@)s account, I would not be surprised if they got the old testament ))

                                        • nxpnsv 208 days ago

                                          Thanks, I stand corrected. Same result for me, I must learn to not just shoot from the hip and google first.

                                      • _0ffh 208 days ago

                                        No idea, but the complaint sounds like hairolysis. :-p

                                    • markee_93 207 days ago

                                      Jesse would be happy.

                                      • th0ma5 208 days ago

                                        Geez makes you want to put a magnet on just about anything to see what happens.

                                        • DonHopkins 208 days ago

                                          I wonder what effect magnets have on the production of Fizzy Lifting Drinks?


                                          • novalis78 207 days ago

                                            It can’t possibly be the first time someone tried this.

                                            • Fjolsvith 208 days ago

                                              I walk around all day on hard concrete and my feet hurt at the end of each day. Found some ankle bracelets with little magnets in them and started wearing them, and my feet quit hurting entirely. I stopped taking pain killers altogether!

                                              • kirubakaran 208 days ago

                                                Placebo is one hell of a drug.

                                                • arcticbull 208 days ago

                                                  It’s effectiveness also correlates positively with our belief in modern medicine; it’s becoming more effective over time. Truly fascinating.

                                                  • phs318u 208 days ago

                                                    Indeed. But we’ve got to ask - is the increasing effectiveness of the placebo effect correlated with a dumbing down of the population (eg the increasing prevalence of anti-scientific views and the mistrust of authorities)? If so, one could foresee a time when the underlying anti-scientific views are cemented by some kind of widespread “scandal”, at which point one might expect the placebo affect to start diminishing in efficacy (if it is related to a belief in modern medicine). So, long-term it may be a bad sign.

                                                    EDITED: spelling and grammar fixes.

                                                    • ekianjo 208 days ago

                                                      Its not. We mistakenly call placebo effect mostly what is regression to the mean. When it is regression to the mean it has nothing to do with placebo - it would occur without anything.

                                                    • semi-extrinsic 208 days ago

                                                      .. and that's the reason why I think there should be a well-functioning and regulated market for these kinds of things. Magnets, homeopathic remedies, chiropractors, etc.

                                                      As long as there is regulation preventing manufacturers and practicioners from claiming they can cure cancer/etc., and the remedies do not have any harmful side effects, why on earth should we leave a treatment as powerful as placebo off the table?

                                                      GP here has significantly reduced his painkiller intake and reduced chronic pain by putting some magnets on his feet. That is without doubt a strong net positive outcome. Why do we mock it?

                                                      • Elrac 207 days ago

                                                        Pretty much every "alternative" medical procedure or product for the gullible has one serious side effect: the potential for abandoning medicine that actually and empirically has an effect superior to placebos.

                                                        Prominent example, to make it a bit more real: Steve Jobs had a cancer with an excellent prognosis on real medicine but chose to handle it with... fruit juice, I think. Steve Jobs is now dead.

                                                        Oncologists write bitter and angry testimonials about patients they weren't able to save because those patients turned away from effective medicine. It's even more infuriating when ignorant parents make these decisions for their children.

                                                        • semi-extrinsic 207 days ago

                                                          Yes, this is exactly why I believe that strong regulation is necessary, with regards to what people selling the "medicine" are allowed to say.

                                                          Your Steve Jobs example highlights that the problem wouldn't be fixed by removing alternative medicine. People can always claim that perfectly ordinary objects have alternative medicine properties.

                                                          I believe if there was a well-regulated alternative medicine industry where people would trust practicioners like they do today, but where those practicioners were prohibited from saying they could cure cancer etc, we would end up in a much better situation.

                                                        • thombat 208 days ago

                                                          I don't think it's being directly mocked: the implicit association with this electrolysis result is being questioned.

                                                        • Fjolsvith 208 days ago

                                                          Its amazing. Magnets even help alleviate the pain of downvotes.

                                                          • thombat 208 days ago

                                                            Be inspired to run a small trial of magnets vs placebo by having your S.O. randomly swap them for similarly heavy non-magnetic lumps and keep a journal of the results. Of course puts your pain relief at risk (regardless of its basis), but the sweet taste of upvotes for your home-brew sciencing will make it all worthwhile.

                                                            • _Microft 207 days ago

                                                              S.O. better shouldn't know which is which to avoid influence on them, i.e. double-blind the experiment.

                                                              • Fjolsvith 206 days ago

                                                                Hmm. So if neither I nor S.O. knew which bracelets had magnets, would that be a double-placebo effect?

                                                            • edejong 208 days ago

                                                              And of grammar nazi’s telling you it’s “it’s” not “its”.

                                                              • thombat 208 days ago

                                                                "nazis" (briefly hugs self with silent glee at besting a grammar nazi in the field, then quietly settles to await the inevitable reply pointing out my own solecism)

                                                                • edejong 207 days ago

                                                                  Oh, the shame. I've handed in my resignation as grammar nazi.

                                                            • nihonde 208 days ago

                                                              As is hubris

                                                        • williesleg 207 days ago

                                                          What happened to plug power?

                                                          • andrewstuart 208 days ago

                                                            Always with the magnets.


                                                            I know someone who was telling me with great sincerity about how she just puts a couple of magnets in with her wash and far less soap is needed.

                                                            I told her that I only go with things where I can look up the science behind it.

                                                            • ekianjo 208 days ago

                                                              This being said science has not researched every single phenomenon either. There would be no Science if all we had was disbelief in every extraordinary claim in the first place. At one point pretending that the Earth rotated around the sun was crazy for most people.

                                                              • Scoundreller 208 days ago

                                                                Meanwhile I find that clothes wash just fine with 1/2-1/4 of the recommended amounts unless they're soiled.

                                                                Makes the colours last longer too.

                                                                • Nition 208 days ago

                                                                  There are scam products - "laundry disks" or "laundry balls" - which take advantage of the fact that clothes still get pretty clean without using any powder. You use the thing (which costs $50+), don't use powder, and it something something magnets something something ions and wow your laundry gets clean!

                                                                  • ingsoc79 208 days ago

                                                                    My parents sent me off to college with a laundry disk, and I remember thinking I should visit my physics professor's office hours and ask how it worked. In retrospect I'm glad I didn't.

                                                                    • asah 208 days ago

                                                                      Meanwhile, wool dryer balls are fantastic low-tech solution to static cling!

                                                                      • Nition 208 days ago

                                                                        Most dryer balls also claim to reduce drying time, which is also untrue, although at least the claims are more grounded in physical possibility than the washing machine ones.

                                                                        • Alex3917 208 days ago

                                                                          Your wet sheets aren't going to dry if they're effectively tied in a knot. It's not some sort of mystery of physics.

                                                                          • DonHopkins 208 days ago

                                                                            If the toss a brick in the dryer, that will prevent your sheets from getting tied in a knot.

                                                                            • saagarjha 208 days ago

                                                                              It'll instead prevent you from visiting the local laundromat ever again.

                                                                              • stevespang 207 days ago

                                                                                You heard about the mafia gang that threw captured enemies into commercial driers along with cactuses and ran a cycle . . .

                                                                            • Scoundreller 208 days ago

                                                                              Wouldn't they help increase airflow around/between clothing?

                                                                              • Nition 207 days ago

                                                                                In actual tests there's no difference in drying time found between using dryer balls and not using them.

                                                                            • ncmncm 208 days ago

                                                                              It is probably worth mentioning here that dryer sheets are mutagenic, and the toxins they leave in the clothes are absorbed through the skin.

                                                                          • Smoosh 208 days ago

                                                                            I have some spiked hard plastic balls which I think were intended for the dryer. They were about $5 for two from some chinese online retailer. I sometimes use them in the wash (with detergent) when I'm trying to clean particularly filthy items. I don't think they're magic but I assume they assist the cleaning through mechanical action.

                                                                          • ekianjo 208 days ago

                                                                            Water (especially warm water) and mechanical action will remove a lot of simple stains already.

                                                                          • jacquesm 207 days ago

                                                                            Good thing the drums tend to be stainless steel which is non magnetic otherwise that might have had completely different effects.

                                                                          • chillingeffect 208 days ago

                                                                            not kidding here, but could this shed new light onthose homeopaths/acupuncturists who put magnets on their wrists, etc. to increase blood flow?

                                                                            • phnofive 208 days ago

                                                                              No, if for no other reason than the mechanism by which spin alignment increases the efficiency of electrolyzing water can’t be compared to the mechanism by which magnetism of certain components of blood would allow a magnet to improve blood flow (the latter mechanism does not exist, to be clear).

                                                                              • taneq 208 days ago

                                                                                I actually talked to one of their sales people a while ago out of idle curiosity, and within five minutes felt like my head was going to explode from "that's not how any of this works".

                                                                                I went into it with as open a mind as I could muster, and was told the following:

                                                                                - The magnets are arranged so that there's a positive magnetic field in the middle surrounded by a ring of negative magnetic field

                                                                                - Blood cells are clumped and this arrangement of magnetic fields pulls apart the clumps, making the blood cells more efficient

                                                                                - The magnetic field also ionizes your blood, giving the cells a positive charge so they can hold more oxygen (!)

                                                                                - They don't claim that it's a medical device because pharmacies won't let them (so as to get more money from doctors prescribing medicine)

                                                                                - The sales girl's pet cat is way more friendly since starting to use one of their magnet things

                                                                                I checked their website which yielded further such gems as:

                                                                                - Magnotherapy has been used for centuries by humans and animals to aid healing

                                                                                - It is reported that Cleopatra wore a small magnet on her forehead to preserve her beauty and youthfulness!

                                                                                - Our magnets use a strong, multi-directional force of magnetism called ‘Central Reverse Polarity®’ also referred to as ‘CRP®’, to mimic the expensive professional equipment used by physiotherapists. Molecules that exit a CRP® field are more efficient than those produced by standard magnets.

                                                                                - The use of a Central Reverse Polarity magnetic field therefore has a three-fold effect on the body’s energy levels (talking at a molecular level);

                                                                                -- It activates the release of energy

                                                                                -- It boosts the volume of stored energy

                                                                                -- It acts as a catalyst by providing energy to increase the rate of chemical reactions.

                                                                                tl;dr no.

                                                                                • brownbat 208 days ago

                                                                                  Reminded me of this episode of Patient Zero, which covers some fringe treatments for Lyme disease:

                                                                                  Spoiler: Don't try to fight bacterial infections with lasers.

                                                                                  • msds 208 days ago

                                                                                    Eh, with a big enough laser, I'll guarantee a 100% success rate at killing any bacteria infecting you.

                                                                                    • thombat 208 days ago

                                                                                      Yep, like the boast on bottles of bleach: "Kills the AIDS virus!". So does sunlight, soap, drying up, in fact almost anything besides "being kept in a body fluid at ambient temperature"

                                                                                      • taneq 207 days ago

                                                                                        Obligatory XKCD quote: "When reading that a particular compound kills cancer cells in a petri dish, remember so does a hand gun."

                                                                                  • HeWhoLurksLate 208 days ago

                                                                                    My head hurts just from reading that. Yikes.

                                                                                    • 0db532a0 208 days ago

                                                                                      According to Wikipedia, Hindus wear red dots (bindi) on their forehead to retain energy and strengthen concentration. Might be worth trying during another all-night coding session.

                                                                                      • mypalmike 208 days ago

                                                                                        Sounds like a bunch of CRP.

                                                                                      • neftaly 208 days ago

                                                                                        The results suggest that magnetism catalyzes electrolysis by temporarily aligning oxygen electron orbits. There is negligible effect otherwise; if electrolysis happened in ones' wrists, you'd merely experience extreme agony for a while, before exploding.

                                                                                        There is also clear, well-documented evidence that homeopathic magnets have no effect beyond a placebo.

                                                                                        • eru 208 days ago

                                                                                          And as much as we like to make fun of those woo peddlers, they are fulfilling a very important role in the progress of science. See eg

                                                                                          > That is, in let’s say a drug testing experiment, you give some people the drug and they recover. That doesn’t tell you much until you give some other people a placebo drug you know doesn’t work – but which they themselves believe in – and see how many of them recover. That number tells you how many people will recover whether the drug works or not. Unless people on your real drug do significantly better than people on the placebo drug, you haven’t found anything.

                                                                                          > On the meta-level, you’re studying some phenomenon and you get some positive findings. That doesn’t tell you much until you take some other researchers who are studying a phenomenon you know doesn’t exist – but which they themselves believe in – and see how many of them get positive findings. That number tells you how many studies will discover positive results whether the phenomenon is real or not. Unless studies of the real phenomenon do significantly better than studies of the placebo phenomenon, you haven’t found anything.

                                                                                          > Trying to set up placebo science would be a logistical nightmare. You’d have to find a phenomenon that definitely doesn’t exist, somehow convince a whole community of scientists across the world that it does, and fund them to study it for a couple of decades without them figuring it out.

                                                                                          • TeMPOraL 208 days ago

                                                                                            You've missed the reveal. The next paragraph:

                                                                                            > Luckily we have a natural experiment in terms of parapsychology – the study of psychic phenomena – which most reasonable people believe don’t exist, but which a community of practicing scientists believes in and publishes papers on all the time.

                                                                                            And now for the cliffhanger: so how does real science fare against its control group? (The answer is in the article.)

                                                                                            • eru 207 days ago

                                                                                              Well, I already implied the reveal in the introduction I wrote above the quote. I didn't want to repeat the punchline.

                                                                                              But we both seem to agree that people should read the article.

                                                                                            • neftaly 208 days ago

                                                                                              Absolutely. Placebos also hold an important place in medicine, and the reduction of suffering.

                                                                                              • evancox100 208 days ago

                                                                                                There's also some evidence that just the care and attention associated with delivering the placebo can have real benefits.

                                                                                          • senectus1 208 days ago

                                                                                            sort of, it'll help to shed light on the BS claims and expand the common knowledge levels to help debunk such dubious claims.

                                                                                          • tiku 208 days ago

                                                                                            My first thought was that it works because it aligns the molecules in the anode, making it more efficient?

                                                                                            • delinquentme 207 days ago


                                                                                              At this point in our technological competency, all easy advancements are gone.

                                                                                              Oh wait.