The Strangest Liquid: Why Water Is So Weird

With a massive blizzard going on in the Northeastern U.S., water (albeit in a frozen form) is on everyone’s mind in this part of the world. Very interesting article, whether you are snowed in or not. Edwin Cartlidge writes in New Scientist:
Ice

We are confronted by many mysteries, from the nature of dark matter and the origin of the universe to the quest for a theory of everything. These are all puzzles on the grand scale, but you can observe another enduring mystery of the physical world — equally perplexing, if not quite so grand — from the comfort of your kitchen. Simply fill a tall glass with chilled water, throw in an ice cube and leave it to stand.

The fact that the ice cube floats is the first oddity. And the mystery deepens if you take a thermometer and measure the temperature of the water at various depths. At the top, near the ice cube, you’ll find it to be around 0 °C, but at the bottom it should be about 4 °C. That’s because water is denser at 4°C than it is at any other temperature — another strange trait that sets it apart from other liquids.

Water’s odd properties don’t stop there, and some are vital to life. Because ice is less dense than water, and water is less dense at its freezing point than when it is slightly warmer, it freezes from the top down rather than the bottom up. So even during the ice ages, life continued to thrive on lake floors and in the deep ocean. Water also has an extraordinary capacity to mop up heat, and this helps smooth out climatic changes that could otherwise devastate ecosystems.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Read More: New Scientist

12 Comments on "The Strangest Liquid: Why Water Is So Weird"

  1. interesting

  2. don't forget the mesmerizing effect it has when combined with a t-shirt

  3. God is good created this world on his hand and give us mystery's

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  4. Baldchemist | Feb 11, 2010 at 4:56 am |

    Thanks for that. I found that extremely interesting and have now started to think about how we can use the information.
    I was attempting to make powdered water but couldn't find anything to mix it with.

    Makes you wonder why it melts at all:

  5. Anonymous | Feb 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm |

    What god? There is no god. Prove it or just admit you have been a fool are your life. On top of your ridiculous post, you use it as an excuse to spam the site. How typical of hypocritical religious people. You should be banned from this site and the human race.

    All religions are total BS.

    Most of the problems of the world are, and always have been, caused by religion. Mankind will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and logic.

  6. James_Smith | Feb 11, 2010 at 8:02 am |

    What god? There is no god. Prove it or just admit you have been a fool are your life. On top of your ridiculous post, you use it as an excuse to spam the site. How typical of hypocritical religious people. You should be banned from this site and the human race.

    All religions are total BS.

    Most of the problems of the world are, and always have been, caused by religion. Mankind will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and logic.

  7. Katesisco | Nov 29, 2010 at 6:36 pm |

    I wonder if perhaps Sol like all other stars, prefers its H2O as ice. H2O is the most common molecule in the earth, universe, cosmos (from S W Carey) so perhaps we will find in our photo journey of ex-solar excursions that ice is the preferred form.
    One might also conclude from our photo visits that if intelligent life forms it must have done so at the immediate moment. Solar ignition, ice melting, multiple cellular life forms, then POOF! all gone. Back to ice. Except, it seems, that electricity rules, so a charge that passes through can ignite life. Perhaps we are looking for this magic moment in our photo journey. The ephemeral bloom of life.

  8. Katesisco | Nov 29, 2010 at 6:36 pm |

    I wonder if perhaps Sol like all other stars, prefers its H2O as ice. H2O is the most common molecule in the earth, universe, cosmos (from S W Carey) so perhaps we will find in our photo journey of ex-solar excursions that ice is the preferred form.
    One might also conclude from our photo visits that if intelligent life forms it must have done so at the immediate moment. Solar ignition, ice melting, multiple cellular life forms, then POOF! all gone. Back to ice. Except, it seems, that electricity rules, so a charge that passes through can ignite life. Perhaps we are looking for this magic moment in our photo journey. The ephemeral bloom of life.

  9. Katesisco | Nov 29, 2010 at 2:36 pm |

    I wonder if perhaps Sol like all other stars, prefers its H2O as ice. H2O is the most common molecule in the earth, universe, cosmos (from S W Carey) so perhaps we will find in our photo journey of ex-solar excursions that ice is the preferred form.
    One might also conclude from our photo visits that if intelligent life forms it must have done so at the immediate moment. Solar ignition, ice melting, multiple cellular life forms, then POOF! all gone. Back to ice. Except, it seems, that electricity rules, so a charge that passes through can ignite life. Perhaps we are looking for this magic moment in our photo journey. The ephemeral bloom of life.

  10. Also water is the only liquid that expands when it freezes

  11. Also water is the only liquid that expands when it freezes

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