In Memorium – Rustum Roy

Rustum Roy died August 26th, 2010 at the age of 86. He represented the best science has to offer. A professor of chemistry and physics with an illustrious 65 year career at Pennsylvania State University, accolades and accomplishments too numerous to mention, yet he never lost sight of the big picture – working to build bridges and share his knowledge with those in other scientific disciplines, public policy, health care, religion and art. His contributions to homeopathy were significant.

Roy was born in India and came in 1944 to Penn State where he received his masters in science and PhD. There he held numerous prestigious positions over the years including Evan Pugh Professor of the Solid State, Professor of Geochemistry and Professor of Science, Technology and Society.

He was also a Distinguished Professor of Materials Science at Arizona State University, a Visiting Professor of Medicine at University of Arizona and an Advisory Council Member at the School of Engineering, Stanford University.

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (both Engineering and Ceramics) in the US, Sweden, Japan, Russia and India –  an uncommon distinction. He chaired many committees at the US National Academy of Sciences and Engineering and the National Science Foundation. For many years he was the senior-most member of the US Academy of Engineering in the field of Ceramics.

He founded and/or edited 10 scientific journals (including the Journal of Materials Science), wrote 6 books, published over 800 scientific papers and held 25 scientific patents.

In the 1980’s he got involved in public policy working as a Science Policy Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

He was also involved in spiritual work as Chair of the Committee on Science, Technology, and the Church at the National Council of Churches and for many years served on the Board of Directors at the Kirkridge Retreat Center (a center dedicated to spirituality, justice, and ecumenism).

All of this is but a fairly limited account of his accomplishments. A more complete list is available here.

Roy was one of the key pioneering figures in the field of materials science. A discipline which incorporates elements of applied physics and chemistry, materials science continues to have increasing relevance to the advancement of science as a whole.

In 1962 Roy founded the Materials Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University – the first such research facility in the US in this then-burgeoning field. He was its director for 22 years. In 2003 the lab was named the #1 materials science lab in the world by the Institute for Scientific Information (the rankings are based on the number of influential/cited scientists involved at the facility).

Roy was also the principal architect and founding member of the Materials Research Society.

It was Roy’s work in materials science that contributed most to homeopathy. In the twilight of his career he conducted several important studies [1] [2] which demonstrated unequivocally the unique physical properties of homeopathic remedies.

Materials science concerns itself with the structural aspects of matter. This is different than elementary chemistry which is concerned primarily with composition. Materials science research has discovered properties of matter which could not have been known using chemistry alone. A good example of this is nanoscience – where nanoparticles of one substance have entirely different properties compared to the bulk form of that same substance.

This is important to homeopathy since the principle scientific argument against it – namely, that homeopathic remedies, being incredibly dilute are chemically identical to water and are therefore inert – has always been based on concepts of basic chemistry.

The discoveries in materials science over the last half century, many guided by Roy, have put the lie to this tired argument.

The example he liked to cite to illustrate the fallacy of attributing material properties solely to chemical composition was that of carbon. In one form (graphite – e.g. “pencil lead”) it is one of the softest materials on earth, while as diamond it is the singular hardest material on the planet. Both of these substances are nothing but pure carbon, yet they have dramatically different properties due to differing structures and one can be changed into another in less than a millisecond in a laboratory. If this can be done with carbon, why not with water?

“At Penn State we have studied pure water and have done very preliminary work on commercial homeopathic samples of the remedies Natrum muriaticum and Nux vomica using Raman and UV-Vis Spectroscopy. What we have found is that there are differences between such commercial samples, as used in homeopathic practice. There are also differences between different potencies – a fact likely tied to the succussion process in the remedy preparation process.”

“Our work at Penn State…provides data to dispose once and for all the ‘anti-science, theological’ crowd’s ‘feasibility’ argument against homeopathy. Pure water’s structure and properties can be changed. The key lies in the homeopathic succussion process which introduces three vectors: pressure, epitaxy, and nano-bubbles. Each of these things are inherent in remedy preparation. All three of them can change structure.”

We honor this pioneering figure and amazing human being who contributed so much to the advancement of homeopathy, science and humanity.


  1. Rao ML, Roy R, Bell IR, Hoover R. The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy. Homeopathy. 2007 Jul;96(3):175-82.
  2. Rao ML, Roy R, Bell IR. Characterization of the structure of ultra-dilute sols with remarkable biological properties. Materials Letters. 2008 Apr 15;62(10-11):1487.
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