PHYSICOCHEMICAL REACTIONS AS INDICATORS OF COSMIC PHENOMENA It is well established that certain external factors, usually ignored, may influence the life activities of organisms, and even chemical or colloidal reactions.
However, physical chemistry and biology could never before provide such conclusive proof as now on the existence of certain cosmic phenomena, earlier "disregarded;" this development is the result of special laboratory experiments and of the vast statistical data collected.
Since 1951, and through the following decade, G. Piccardi, Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence has studied the effect on certain simple chemical reactions of the variations in solar activity associated with the appearance of sunspots, prominences, flares, etc. on the Sun's surface.
Piccardi's experiments aroused the interest of a significant number of scientists in different countries who agreed to conduct simultaneous in vestigations according to the same method. The results obtained were striking.
An international symposium on the influence of solar radiations on physicochemical reactions and biological phenomena was held at the Belgian Observatory in 8-10 October 1958. The exhaustive data presented at this symposium conclusively demonstrated the global and synchronizing effect of solar disturbances on physicochemical reactions, and on certain biolo gical processes, confirming the basic premises of space biology.
We shall present a brief account of the most interesting investigations conducted by Prof. Piccardi and his school.
Temperature, pressure, humidity, illumination, and several other common variables can be controlled. In contrast, the appearance of sun spots, solar flares, or terrestrial magnetic storms is as unavoidable as the penetration of electromagnetic waves of certain wavelengths through the walls of our houses and through our own bodies. Similarly, we cannot prevent force fields from forming around us. Solar activity, sunspots, in cidence and extent of solar eruptions and flares, electromagnetic fields, magnetic storms, and certain other phenomena, are all cosmic variables.
Since we are able to regulate only some of our experimental conditions we must revise our experimental methods. Valuable experiments are not limited to those yielding uniform results when carried out under ordinary and identical conditions. At present, there are means of explaining quite satisfactorily, the correlation of cosmic with terrestrial phenomena. In
this respect, the statistical methods available render an invaluable service to science.
The impossibility of reproducing all experimental conditions compels us to reconsider this problem repeatedly, Since in many cases changes in cosmic conditions may significantly influence terrestrial processes, the times at which these changes occur should be carefully noted. The condi tions prevailing at a given moment, or over a certain period of time may be partially defined by studying the astrophysical and geophysical pheno mena. The day and the hour reflect the physical and cosmic situation which changes continuously.
The fundamental properties of the universe are reflected by periodic and nonperiodic variations. All existence on Earth is also subject to these variations. Depending upon the degree of the cosmic influence the terres trial results of these changes may or may not be detected. Objects may differ in their sensitivity to cosmic factors.
Among the many chemical substances sensitive to cosmic influences are water and various colloid systems, which are the physical essence of life phenomena. The sensitivity of any chemical system to the influences of cosmic factors depends upon its structure, i. e., on the geometric and energy factors of its molecular structure and its intricate organization. The more we learn about the structure of water and colloids, the more this concept is strengthened.
In comparison with other substances the behavior of water is completely anomalous. A satisfactory theoretical explanation of this anomaly has not been presented thus far. The hypothesis advanced by Bernal and Fowler in 1933 that water has a pseudocrystalline structure, or a system of such structures, explained rather well some of the anomalies of water, although it was severely attacked by those who regarded water as merely a random aggregation of particles. This theory, however, was further developed and improved, and later enlarged by Pople (1951). In 1953, Harris and Adler used Pople's modification in calculating the dielectric constant of water at different temperatures. The calculated values were in complete agreement with the experimental results. None of the earlier theories had ever met with such success, and at present it is widely accepted that water has a definite structure. This is very important in the interpretation of cosmic influences.