University of Pittsburgh
December 22, 2004

Splish, Splash: Pitt Water Research Named One of Top Ten Scientific Breakthroughs in 2004

Pitt professor's findings on the nature of water recognized by Science Magazine
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Research done by a University of Pittsburgh professor has made Science Magazine's list of top ten scientific breakthroughs of the past year.

Kenneth Jordan's research on how water behaves when extra protons or electrons are added was recognized as part of the number eight breakthrough of the year for "providing new insights into aqueous chemistry." The Science news staff wrote that Jordan's research, along with the other water research mentioned, could "reshape fields from chemistry to atmospheric sciences."

The magazine cited research by Jordan and colleagues at Yale University and the University of Georgia that has shed light on how molecules of water interact with extra protons.

"I was delighted but surprised at this recognition," said Jordan, professor and chair of Pitt's Department of Chemistry. After all, he said, other discoveries that made the list included the revelation that water used to exist on Mars and the discovery of a new species of tiny hominid.

"Protons in water are important in acid/base chemistry and in a multitude of biological energy cycles," said Jordan. "Yet the nature of the proton—how it is accommodated by the surrounding water molecules—has remained elusive."

Other articles mentioned by Science included papers that built on Jordan's research on the behavior on an extra electron in water, as well as an overview Jordan wrote of other groups' research in that area.

"The breakthroughs in our understanding the properties of water have been driven by advances in experimental techniques and in the growing power of computer simulations," he said.

For more information on Jordan's research, visit For the full list of Science Magazine's top ten breakthroughs of 2004, visit