Water is an alien

Something you face every day by washing, drinking, cooking. 60% of your body is made of it. You can swim inside of it and walk on top of it. It steams in the air and comes back to the ground as a liquid. Think about it for a minute – water is really weird.

It is everywhere – inside you or any other living thing, every molecule of water has existed for billions of years. It has done an unbelievable journey through the history on Earth even before coming to you, by cycling from ground to air, from animals to plants, from oceans to rivers – the water inside of you has been inside of dinosaurs. Where did it come from?

The oceans on our planet formed hundreds of millions of years after Earth took shape, before that there was no single drop of water. It traveled here from the edge of our solar system, on asteroids and comets. Every drop of the water on our planet is alien that arrived here nearly 4 billion years ago.

Besides its journeys through space and ending up here, it’s probably the weirdest molecule in our universe. Did you know that warm water freezes faster than cold? No one knows why. And it shouldn’t even form as a liquid on our planet? Hydrogen and oxygen – two very light atoms – are forming the water molecule. The rules of chemistry say that water should be gas at the temperatures and pressures on the surface of Earth. It freezes and the ice floats on water, how strange is that?

We are not witnessing its weirdness alone; it’s the second most common molecule in the universe. H2O appears on almost every object in our solar system, in the moon, on Mars, Pluto… The scientists struggle to understand it; it breaks so many rules of chemistry. A material so featureless – so tasteless, so colorless – and our world wouldn’t be here without it.


Selina Niemi

Source: YouTube | Why water is really, really weird – BBC ideas

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