Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Definitions: Water

Water is a well-known but clear, odorless, tasteless liquid said to be necessary for life (i.e., your familiar animals and plants, plus a few creepy things you don't want to hear about).

Water is also known as a chemical substance composed of hydrogen and oxygen and vital for all known forms of life, which we just said. (Were you paying attention there?)

Anyhow, water is a chemical compound, officially, and its formula is H2O. Meaning that it has two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. That sounds significant and definitive. However no one really knows what atoms are. No, not really.

It is possible, with the right equipment, to capture various kinds of images of atoms, mostly the big, slow, dumb atoms that can't get out of the way or hide in the bushes when they hear scientists coming, so who knows about the other ones, the smaller, more nimble, and possibly cleverer ones like hydrogen, and even oxygen? Eh?

That's a puzzle right there.

Water occurs at room temperature as a clear, colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid. (I know — we keep repeating that too.) It solidifies at 0 degrees Celcius and boils above 100 degrees Celcius (or 32° and 212° Fahrenheit). Beyond that, no one really knows a lot about it, except that water is commonly and widely used as a solvent. So is paint thinner, but how often do you make coffee with paint thinner? Not really much help there, was that?

Water also frequently occurs naturally as snow, as ice in glaciers, ice packs and icebergs, as droplets in clouds, fog and dew, in subsurface aquifers, and as atmospheric humidity. Talk about being shifty and hard to pin down — water is all over the damn place, in everything, and goes under a wide variety of disguises and aliases.

So is there more to this story than all those smart people are letting on? Maybe. Pretty sure about it in fact.

Until we find out more, it might be best not to trust water too much. At least keep your eyeballs peeled for anything unusual. Drink sparingly. Wash only if you have to. Spend more time talking to the cat. Cats and water, you know — there's something going on there and it might pay to clue yourself about it. We'll get back to as soon as we have additional info.