Scientists are reporting that H2O, when chilled below the freezing point, can shift into a new type of liquid. Pradeep Kumar and H. Eugene Stanley explain that water is one weird substance, exhibiting more than 80 unusual properties, by one count, including some that scientists still struggle to understand.
Water can exist in all three states of matter (solid, liquid,gas) at the same time. And the forces at its surface enable insects to walk on water and water to rise up from the roots into the leaves of trees and other plants.
In another strange turn, scientists have proposed that water can go from being one type of liquid into another in a so-called “liquid-liquid” phase transition, but it is impossible to test this with today’s laboratory equipment because these things happen so fast. Researchers used computer simulations to check it out.
They found that when they chilled liquid water in their simulation, its propensity to conduct heat decreases, as expected for an ordinary liquid. But, when they lowered the temperature to about 48 degrees Celsius below zero (54 degrees Fahrenheit), the liquid water started to conduct heat even better in the simulation.
Their studies suggest that below this temperature, liquid water undergoes sharp but continuous structural changes whereas the local structure of liquid becomes extremely ordered – very much like ice. These structural changes in liquid water lead to increase of heat conduction at lower temperatures.
The researchers say that this surprising result supports the idea that water has a liquid-liquid phase transition. (TerraDaily)
Facts about water
Water covers 70.9% of the Earth’s surface and is vital for all known forms of life.On Earth, 96.5% of the planet’s water is found mostly in oceans; 1.7% in groundwater; 1.7% in glaciers and the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland; a small fraction in other large water bodies, and 0.001% in the air as vapor, clouds (formed of solid and liquid water particles suspended in air), and precipitation. Only 2.5% of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and 98.8% of that water is in ice and groundwater. Less than 0.3% of all freshwater is in rivers, lakes, and the atmosphere, and an even smaller amount of the Earth’s freshwater (0.003%) is contained within biological bodies and manufactured products.
Water on Earth moves continually through the hydrological cycle of evaporation and transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Evaporation and transpiration contribute to the precipitation over land.
Water appears in nature in all three common states of matter and may take many different forms on Earth: water vapor and clouds in the sky; seawater and icebergs in the polar oceans; glaciers and rivers in the mountains; and the liquid in aquifers in the ground.
Water is a liquid at standard temperature and pressure. It is tasteless and odorless. The intrinsic colour of water and ice is a very slight blue hue, although both appear colorless in small quantities. Water vapour is essentially invisible as a gas.
Water is transparent in the visible electromagnetic spectrum. Thus aquatic plants can live in water because sunlight can reach them. Infrared light is strongly absorbed by the hydrogen-oxygen or OH bonds.
Water is a good solvent and is often referred to as the universal solvent. Substances that dissolve in water, e.g., salts, sugars, acids, alkalis, and some gases – especially oxygen, carbon dioxide (carbonation) are known as hydrophilic (water-loving) substances, while those that do not mix well with water (e.g., fats and oils), are known as hydrophobic (water-fearing) substances. All the major components in cells (proteins, DNA and polysaccharides) are also dissolved in water.
The boiling point of water (and all other liquids) is dependent on the barometric pressure. For example, on the top of Mt. Everest water boils at 68 °C (154 °F), compared to 100 °C (212 °F) at sea level. Conversely, water deep in the ocean near geothermal vents can reach temperatures of hundreds of degrees and remain liquid.
The maximum density of water occurs at 3.98 °C (39.16 °F).It has the anomalous property of becoming less dense, not more, when it is cooled down to its solid form, ice. It expands to occupy 9% greater volume in this solid state, which accounts for the fact of ice floating on liquid water as in icebergs.
Water is miscible with many liquids, such as ethanol, in all proportions, forming a single homogeneous liquid. On the other hand, water and most oils are immiscible usually forming layers according to increasing density from the top. As a gas, water vapor is completely miscible with air.
Water can be split by electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen.
The collective mass of water found on, under, and over the surface of a planet is called the hydrosphere. Earth’s approximate water volume (the total water supply of the world) is 1,338,000,000 km3 (321,000,000 mi3).
On 22 July 2011, a report described the discovery of a gigantic cloud of water vapor, containing “140 trillion times more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined,” around a quasar located 12 billion light years from Earth. According to the researchers, the “discovery shows that water has been prevalent in the universe for nearly its entire existence. (Wikipedia)
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