Abundant Vital Quenching and Wondrous – WIF WATER

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The Many

Marvelous Mysteries

of Water

Water is, by far, the most abundant natural resource on Earth, as around 72% of the planet’s surface is covered with it. It’s also the driving factor behind the origins of life, as we do not yet know of a life form that’s not water-based. The same cannot be said for anything else. We know of organisms that don’t require light, oxygen, warmth, or even the Earth’s atmosphere to survive – as many microbes can stay alive in space, too – though every one of them absolutely requires water to function.

Humans and animals alike love to frolic in it, when it’s warm enough.

While the reasons for all that may be obvious to most – it makes sense that life evolved around the most abundant resource in the environment – it doesn’t have anything to do with the Earth or the environment at all. Water is – in itself – one of the weirdest substances to ever exist, with mysterious properties that aren’t just unheard of on Earth, but anywhere in the universe. Right from its highly-debated structure to the baffling Mpemba effect, it’s exactly these unexplained properties that give water its unique position as the single biggest factor behind all life we know of today, and why finding life based on any other substance anywhere else in the universe is more unlikely than we think.

8. Water’s Inexplicably-High Surface Tension

One of water’s most unique – and mind-boggling – properties is its surface tension. While nothing unusual in itself, as every liquid has some surface pull that keeps its molecules together in that state, water’s surface tension is much higher than any other liquid we know of. This unique property has some far-reaching consequences for the evolution of life on Earth. For an example, it’s how blood – over 80% of which is made up of water – can overcome the force of gravity and circulate around the body.

As for why this is, you guessed it: we’re not sure. Scientists previously believed that it’s because of the uniquely strong hydrogen bonds found in the water molecules, though if a recent study is to be believed, that’s not the case, and water is actually even weirder than that. Apparently, its surface tension isn’t even static, and could change according to how water is feeling that day.

As the study found, it’s the stickiest just when its surface is formed – like the exact time a water droplet falls down. Surprisingly, it takes unusually long for it to come down to its original value, too, something the researchers didn’t understand. What they did clear up, however, is that it has nothing to do with the hydrogen bonds, or anything else we know of.

7. We Don’t Know Why Water Expands On Cooling, Or Vice Versa

That things expand when they’re heated up and shrink in size on cooling is one of the fundamental rules of nature. We can see it in play all around us, and a lot of our infrastructure takes this rule into account. Almost every building has expansion joints, allowing it to breathe in or out depending on the season. Rules, however, do not apply to water, as it remains the only known substance that expands on cooling and vice versa, and we still don’t know why.

It’s not even difficult to verify this. Just take some ice in a container, note its general volume and wait for it to warm up and liquify. It would always take up less space than its solid form, which also happens to be one of water’s weirdest properties. Science has been trying to answer it for a while, though the potential answers – much like everything else about water – make the whole thing even more mysterious.

According to recent research, there is a perfectly good explanation for this unique property: liquid water doesn’t really expand when it’s cooled, but actually oscillates between two distinct states of liquid matter. If you cool it down below 0 degrees Celsius, it may seem to be expanding, but if you lower it even further, you’d start to notice that it’s contracting, too. Keep taking it closer to its freezing point – which is around -60 Celsius for pure water – and at one point it would seem to be expanding and contracting with almost the same frequency.

While that does seem to explain exactly how and what happens to water when it’s cooled – in the way that it clarifies that the real process is even weirder than we imagined – it still doesn’t touch on the ‘why’. It may have to do with the inherently weird structure of water molecules and how they interact with each other, but then it’s not like we’re sure about how that works, either.

6. No One Can Agree On Its Structure

Most of us would probably not believe it, but water – perhaps the most studied natural material in history – incites some pretty strong opinions in the scientific community, for the simple reason that there’s still a lot of debate around how exactly it’s structured. A lot of its weird properties could be explained if we just knew how the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water interact with each other. Surprisingly, though, even with our modern research techniques, we still have no idea.

While traditional wisdom previously suggested that despite its weirdness, the structure of water is still a natural tetrahedron, one recent study found that the shape is actually a more loosely bonded collection of closed rings and chains, which is actually what gives water its weird properties. It’s still not a widely accepted opinion yet, though, as other researchers say that the results aren’t due to looser bonding at all, but because of the water molecule’s ability to rearrange itself in entirely new shapes. Whatever may be the case, it’d be a while before we could even understand the structure of water, let alone the plethora of its other mysteries.

5. The Mpemba Effect

While there’s no doubt that water possesses many abilities that may as well be magic to the scientists studying them, a lot of them have been recent realizations. It’s only thanks to recent experiments that we’ve come to understand the full extent of water’s weirdness, as for the majority of history, it was the simplest substance we know of. One of its properties, however, has baffled keen thinkers and amateur scientists alike for centuries – possibly even millenia. Water, contrary to all common logic, freezes at a faster rate when it’s hot. Again, it’s unlike anything else we know of, and has been verifiably observed since at least the ancient Greek times.

Also known as the Mpemba Effect, after an African physics student who wrote the first peer-reviewed paper describing the phenomenon, it’s by far the most enduring of water’s mysteries. Many experiments have confirmed it throughout the years, though we’re still no closer to figuring out why it happens.

4. The Mystery Of The Cambrian Explosion

Our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth is pretty linear; that simple, single-celled organisms gradually gave way to more complex animals, leading up to all the diversity of life we see around us today. However, that is not the case at all. Complex life is a rather recent, and likely accidental, development. For an overwhelming period of our history – about 2.5 billion years – life existed as simple, largely immobile creatures, most of whom didn’t even need oxygen to survive. It may as well have been an alien landscape altogether, filled with animals (if we can even call them that) that have little to no resemblance to the mostly water and oxygen-based life forms of today.

Then about 540 million years ago, the variety and complexity of life suddenly exploded in the oceans, and to this day we have no idea what triggered it. The Cambrian Explosion, as it’s called, was the single most important event in our pre-evolutionary history, as well as the oldest mystery of the oceans. Some researchers think that it was triggered by the rise of oxygen levels in the atmosphere, or the accidental evolution of vision, or something else really. They’re not sure, but almost all of them agree that the importance of the Cambrian Explosion cannot be overstated. It was the beginning of complex life as we know it, and gave way to almost every life form in the world today, from the simplest of microbes to the entirety of human civilization, and everything in between.

In the end, it could be a God-thing.

3. Where Did All Of Earth’s Water Even Come From?

As we’ve well established by now, there would have been no life on Earth without water. Thanks to its unique and weird properties, water may just be the answer to ‘why us?’, as almost no other substance found in nature behaves like it. Moreover, it’s also rather convenient to have the one substance required to kickstart life to even show up on Earth, completing the unique set of highly-improbable factors that eventually gave birth to life. It begs the question; where did all the water on Earth even come from?

If that sounds like a simple question to answer by something obvious like ‘clouds, duh’ or ‘trees, or something’, it’s really not. As it happens, we still don’t know exactly what brought water to Earth in the first place. Some claim that it came on the back of a comet in the form of ice, though given how the Earth didn’t have an atmosphere around that time, all of that water would have evaporated into the open universe. Another theory says that hot vapors escaping from cracks in the Earth’s surface gave way to the first clouds, setting the cycle of evaporation, cloud formation and rains in motion for the first time. Though again, it’s still just a theory.

2. Water Shouldn’t Even Be A Liquid

If you take a look at the elements that make up water on the periodic table – provided you know how to read the periodic table – you’ll notice something peculiar. They exist right next to gases like hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen selenide; ‘gases’ being the key word. If water were to behave like other chemicals with similar properties, it would not be a liquid at all, especially at Earth temperatures. Water is supposed to freeze somewhere around -100 Celsius and evaporate at around -80 Celsius, as is the case with other gases of its family.

As it’s clear by now, water doesn’t adhere to expectations, which is why it’s the only substance we know of that can exist in all the three states at temperatures hospitable for human life. It can stay liquid at a surprisingly low temperature, too, provided that it’s free of any impurities.

1. The Weird Properties Of Water Make Life On Earth Possible

Reading through the absolutely rebellious chemical nature of water may give you the impression that it’s abnormal. After all, these properties are not found in any natural substance, and we even have a hard time replicating them in the lab if we want to. That’s pretty accurate, though these mysterious properties don’t make water alien. In fact, they explain why water has fit in so well with the life-giving ecosystem of the planet, and is perhaps the most Earthly thing there is.

If water didn’t have a higher surface tension than other liquids, it would be impossible for it to stick to and circulate among plant roots. Its ability to expand when frozen allowed water bodies during ancient ice ages to freeze from top down, allowing life below the surface – which was all life at one point – to survive and adapt for when it was over. If it adhered to laws of liquids, water would start turning into ice from the bottom, ensuring that any signs of primitive life died down long before they could adapt and evolve.


Abundant Vital Quenching and Wondrous

WIF WATER

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 80

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Please note that I wrote this book  in the mid-1980’s (before updating it). 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 80

…Sam proclaims, “H20___ out-of-the-faucet ___ shower-taking ___ sprinkle-on-your-garden ___ garden-variety ___ drink-it-down ___ WATER!!!!

water-digital-artwork

Water Nuclear Bomb by Dimitar Krstevski

The Space Family McKinney continues to explore the “NEWFOUNDLANDER”.

In one such alleged crewman quarters, Sampson, going on the assumption that no harm could come out of testing switches or push-buttons in the privacy of one’s own room, decides to do just that. There is a lighted checkerboard panel on a wall, right next where one would sit and well — not work, so this would be the time to experiment.

He chooses two such buttons to push, one colored black-hole-blue, and the other galaxy-green. Seconds later, there happens a fanciful flickering light in combination with a whimsical whoosh; a small opening opens to reveal a sippy cup type container filled with some sort of liquid.

Celeste watches her husband’s foray into technical tryouts, shrugging as he removes the vessel from the alien cube, “It’s your hand dear.” The opening closes as soon as the sippy and its clear fluid is removed.

Evidently the liquid is meant to be consumed, yet this is no time to be reckless even though thirst and hunger are high on the list in the unenviable sport of survival. So instead of two gulps and hope for the best, Sam uses the same versatile sampling device he used to analyze the air, in order to break down the elemental composition of the benign smelling liquid.

When the handheld monitor turns green he proclaims, “H20___ out-of-the-faucet ___ shower-taking ___ sprinkle-on-your-garden ___ garden-variety ___ drink-it-down ___ WATER!!!!”

“What do they add to it to make it smell so inviting; there must be more to it,” armed with the crave-driven sagacity of a pregnant lady.

“Purified water, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride and a negligible amount of sodium minerals,” he specifies. “The nutrition label reads: CRISP, FRESH TASTE, FILTERED THROUGH a STATE-OF-THE-ART PURIFICATION SYSTEM AND ENHANCED WITH MINERALS FOR a PURE, FRESH TASTE THAT CAN’T BE BEAT.”

“You made that up, you can’t read gobbledigook{Newfoundlian}.”

gobbledigook{bottoms up you chicken},,” translates to bottoms up. He lifts the liquescence to his tentative lips? bravely?, partaking in the alien brew. It is on the warm side, though the container remains at the ambient room temperature of 820 F, as long as it doesn’t burn on the way down.

gobbledigook{Try some} {try some},” he submits it to Celeste for her assessment.

“Not bad, but lay off speaking in gobbledigook {Newfoundlian} . I can’t read your lips.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 80


page 75

The NULL Solution = Episode 169

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The NULL Solution = Episode 169

…Once a troubling tormentor, the tenacious Sampson has managed to unleash Ekcello’s inner adventurer…

“We need to run the idea of us leaving past Ekcello. His wisdom has been invaluable in the evolution of our family,” insists Celeste McKinney.

“But that was back when contaminating Earth’s timestem was the stumbling block. The Milky Way has been turned on its ear by change. Heck, aliens are not what we’ve cracked them up to be,” counters Deke.

Just like water, there is a common innate thread that runs throughout time and space. Sure some are more comely than others, but like H2O, the similarities diminish the differences.

Ekcello has been conveniently monitoring this conversation. It is not eavesdropping in his mind, seeing his mind in is tune with his entire world. He knew that this day could come, one of these cycles. He is tiring from having to hold the McKinney’s leash, such is the outward tug.

The Supreme Elder of the High Council does not have the pull he once had. The Nulls are on the loose and displays of Giftedness are falling out of favor. Those nutty Earthlings have grown on him, but their leaving will not change having known and loved them. They will always be only a whisper away.

Once a troubling tormentor, the tenacious Sampson has managed to unleash Ekcello’s inner adventurer. The thick Eridanian atmosphere used to be a ceiling, now it resembles a revolving door.

“The Seljuk spacecraft will be arriving soon,” Ekcello senses. There once was a time when the term “spacecraft” {or the Eridanus equivalent} was a banned 10-letter {or so} word. “I so look forward to Sammy Mac’s version of the Harmonia expedition.” Irony has crept its way into his vernacular.

“Let’s give the heroes the key to the city.” Deimostra summons the new Eupepsia spirit.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 169


page 165 (end Ch. 15)

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