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Colours of water: new thinking in art, science, music (and business) inspired by water.

“The highest form of goodness is like water. Water knows how to benefit all things without striving with them.” Lao Tzu

According to my mum, one of the most exciting areas in science today is the study of water. While water’s very simple from a chemical standpoint, it’s prone to exhibiting behaviours that are extremely complex. One of these (which I barely understand so am probably butchering completely) is its tendency to form an infinite variety of supra-molecular crystalline structures like snowflakes, each of which is unique. These structures also form in liquid water and sometimes the introduction of a foreign compound into water will spark the formation of different structures. In some cases the structure formed actually mimics, or remembers, the structure of the compound that was introduced.

This becomes interesting when you think about homeopathy and the practice of introducing a “poison” into water and then diluting it repeatedly. It has long been argued that the rate of dilutions would leave no trace of the original substance, but now a number of studies have shown that water actually retains a memory of the structure of the original substance. For example, Luc Montagnier discovered that certain DNA sequences dissolved in water cause electromagnetic signals to be emitted at high dilutions and that the DNA sequence itself could be reconstituted from these signals.

It’s truly fascinating and challenging stuff, but what’s even more interesting is that the study of water is so tightly entwined with the study of and questions about life. So for the first time, scientists are asking many of the same questions as artists and musicians. And that has inspired my mum to organise a conference to explore the convergence in thinking.

It’s called Colours of Water and takes place between the 12th – 28th March in London at the Menier Gallery which is very near the Tate Modern. There is a constellation of very interesting speakers and workshops lined up… and then there’s me.

Yes, incredulously, I’ll also be speaking about some things I’ve been stealing seeing in some extremely progressive companies across a number of different industries. Things like:

  • Companies that operate and thrive without any formal bosses or structure
  • Emerging business models that are designed to create ecosystems for mutual benefit
  • New models for marketing that place companies in partnership with their customers.

All of these are signs that business can also behave more like water; that businesses can be more fluid, more organic, more supportive and be structured to benefit  all of the lives that depend upon them. I’m quite inspired by the subject but even more inspired to hear what the other speakers have to say.

If you are in London (or even not) you should definitely check the festival out. I’m speaking on the 22nd but planning to be around for a bunch of the other sessions, I’d love to see you all there as well.

The full programme is here



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