## 2009-11-06

### A terrible video you have to watch

Everything that this woman says is completely wrong. I'm amazed that someone can be so wrong in such a short span of time.

Did you watch it?

In case you were thinking, well, maybe some of that makes some sense, let me point out a potential "flaw" in her "argument."

She is making a claim that homeopathy is all about energy. As a refresher, remember that homeopathic treatments use some kind of natural agent to cure symptoms, but the application is a very dilute solution. So if onion is the agent, and I think it sometimes is in homeopathy, the homeopath will take an onion, grind it up and add it to water. But then they take that water, divide it into two, and add it to more water, and so on and so on. Eventually the solution is so dilute that there is no meaningful amount of onion in the water, so the homeopathic treatment is just water. I'm not exaggerating, either, go look it up. Anyway, the woman in the video tries to make sense of this because mass is energy, so in some sense she is saying that they are putting the energy of the onion into the water, so it doesn't matter if there is mass in there. She justifies this because the mass term in E = m*c^2 is very small. In fact, she says you can ignore the m because it is infinitesimal. Wah? Yes, she says this several times, including in her introduction, saying that all the matter in the universe could fit into a bowling ball. I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean, but I do know how to multiply.

Let's take the speed of light, c. Roughly, c is 300-million meters per second, c = 3*10^8 m/s. That's a big number. Now square it, c*c = 9*10^16 m^s/s2, and that is a really big number. No wonder that homeopath thinks we can just neglect the tiny little amount of matter in an onion, since this number is so big. Let's say we have a really large onion of 1 kg. Now how much energy does that mass turn into, well, 1kg*9*10^16 m^2/s^2 = 9*10^16 kgm^2/s^2, which is just 9*10^16 Joules, the SI unit of energy. Now, that sounds like a lot of energy, so it is fine to divide it into a lot of water, right, and spread that energetic wealth. So the homepath puts the pulverized onion into the water, then splits the water into two and adds water, and so on and so on. Eventually you find that the mass of onion in each drop of water is negligible, or infinitesimal, just like the homeopath said. So let's take a very tiny number for the mass, say 1 millionth of the original mass of the onion, so that much energy is actually E = 1kg/10000009*10^16 m^2/s^2 = 90 billion Joules. Still looks like a big number, but remember 1kg divided into a million pieces is still far more than infinitesimal, what about 1 billionth of a kilogram, well that'd be 90 million Joules, and 1 thousandth of a billionth of a kilogram would be 90,000 Joules, and a kilogram divided by the number of atoms in a mole (= 6.02*10^23) produces about 1.5*10^-7 Joules. Ah, there seems to be a trend. If you keep reducing the mass, the energy drops. Even way before you have a single atom per drop of water, you have a negligible amount of energy, despite the constancy of the speed of light.

Just to belabor the point, the homeopath is missing a fact of basic arithmetic. Multiplying a large number by a small number doesn't mean you get the large number. Spreading the onion's energy over a very large amount of water doesn't imbue the water with magical curative properties. You end up with water, plain and simple.

And I haven't even mentioned an essential physical error in her interpretation, namely that squishing an onion does not release the energy of the onion. You apply energy to the onion to break the bonds that hold it together. This does not convert mass to energy; for all practical purposes mass is conserved. Only when we deal with relativity does the Einstein's mass-energy equivalence come into play.

Homeopathy is bunk. At best it is a placebo, and at worst it convinces people to forego actual treatment, fork over their money to some snake-oil salesperson and not get better.