|S. Hahnemann - 1841|
It started in about 1790 when German physician Samuel Hahnemann proposed the homeopathic theory of medicine - basically that less is more. By diluting common medicinal elements into water he reportedly discovered that they were equally effective in relieving the same symptoms in patients - no matter how diluted - as long as they were diluted using his specific method called succussion (agitation). He deduced, therefore, that water had the ability to retain the original "essence" of whatever was being diluted, no matter how diluted it became.
In the late 1980's a French doctor, Jacques Benveniste, was studying allergies when he happened onto this same line of doctoring. He could dilute an antibody in water time after time after time, even until he couldn't find the antibody any more (chemically) and yet it still appeared to have the same effect as it had full strength. After researching it for several years, he deduced the only explanation was that water had the ability to remember the chemical properties of the original solution diluted in it. But it only worked if the water was agitated during the dilution process. Well the stuff hit the fan when he tried to bully the esteemed English science journal, Nature, into publishing his work. They resisted for quite a while based on how many laws of physics, science and nature would have to be re-done if he was correct. But they eventually relented - under one caveat - that they have unfettered access to his lab and data and could attempt to replicate the finding themselves.
Long story short, Nature could not replicate his labwork (nor could anyone else) and ended up debunking the entire idea. But would Benveniste stop? Nope. He kept researching and later claimed that water memory could be transmitted through telephone lines, and later via the internet. Yet the legend lives on via the thousands who practice and swear by Homeopathic medicine even today.
As it turns out, water does remember correlations of its molecular bonding patterns, but not for very long. Recent research (Cowan, 2005) finds that liquid water loses the memory of persistent correlations in its structure within 50 fs. If you're not aware, a fs is a femtosecond - 1 quadrillionth of a second. Water, much like myself, is very efficient at not remembering what it's supposed to be doing. Now, if only they'd work at transporting WATER over the internet...