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February 5, 1982


JAMA. 1982;247(5):697. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320300091045

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Although the main theme of the book revolves around polywater, the sidelights and introspective views of science and scientists add depth, philosophy, and fascinating anecdotes. For instance, when confronted by the Russians, Americans customarily divide themselves into two camps. The first group assumes that everything Russian is false, erroneous, or stolen from another source. The second believes that if the Russians have done something, we can do it better; therefore, it behooves us to jump into the fray and beat them at their own game. Author Felix Franks details the behavior of scientists against this backdrop of global politics.

The narrative begins with the discovery of an unusual form of water in the Soviet Union by physical chemists Nikolai Fedyakin and Boris Deryagin. The molecules of this water appeared more viscous than ordinary water; it remained liquid from —21 °C to almost 260 °C. Assuming that simple H2O molecules had