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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2012

"Water" You Missing About Water

We see it all around us every day. We take a bath or a shower in it. We drink it out of fountains at church or at school. We wash our dishes in it. We bathe our pets in it. We fill up balloons with it and throw them at each other in the summer time. We swim in it. We use it to wash cars, clean windows, keep plants and gardens alive, and for millions of other things. Of course, you know we’re talking about water. But what you may not know is that water is one of the most precious, plentiful, perfect substances that God ever designed. Water is the most valuable substance on Earth. Without it, life as we know it could not exist. Let’s look at just how swell water really is.

Water, Water, Everywhere

One of the first things that we notice about water is that there is lots of it and it is found all over the Earth. In fact, about 75% of our planet is covered with water in oceans, lakes, streams, and ice. Not only that, but the human body is made up of about 50-70% water, and human blood is almost 80% water. Other things, like plants, animals, fruits, and vegetables, also contain high percentages of water. For instance, an apple is about 84% water. A watermelon has a fitting name, since it is about 92% water! It is a good thing God designed our world with so much water. Every single living organism contains water. Without water, life is impossible.

Frozen Water Floats

You might be surprised to learn that ice is very special. You see ice in many different places. In Alaska, there are glaciers of ice so big that you could drive trucks on them (although I wouldn’t advise it). We use ice on a daily basis to keep our drinks cool. In places where it is cold in the winter, ponds freeze over and develop a thin sheet of ice at their surface. But did you know that the way in which water turns to ice is very unusual? Most liquids get denser as they freeze. That means that their molecules squeeze in tighter together and start to weigh more than the substance in liquid form. But not water. As it freezes, it begins to expand and get less dense than water in liquid form. You can understand this when you think about putting water in a jug or bottle to freeze. If you fill the jug completely full of water, when it freezes, the water expands and bursts the jug. In a similar way, water in pipes sometimes freezes, expands, and bursts the pipes. So why is it so important that water expands when it freezes? If it did not, frozen water (ice) would sink. That would mean the fish and other animals that live in water would be forced to the surface and would die. The fact that ice floats and does not sink allows animals that live in ponds, streams, oceans, and lakes to live through the winter. Aren’t we glad God designed ice in a special way to float!

Water Climbs the Walls

Have you ever seen water “stick” together? I’m sure you have, but you might not have known what was happening. Have you wondered why water bunches up in little clusters called “drops”? Why doesn’t water just spread out evenly on a surface instead of forming drops? It is because of the way water is designed. Water is composed of two hydrogen atoms that attach to one oxygen atom. When these atoms get together, they cause the water molecule to have a slightly “magnetic” ability. Water “sticks” to itself and to other substances due to this attractive force. If you want to see this in action, turn on the faucet in your bathroom or sink. Put your finger just barely into the flow of water. Notice that not only is the water that your finger is touching altered, but the entire stream of water changes its course—even the water that is not touching your finger.

This attractive force causes water to have surface tension. If you fill a glass up very slowly with water, you will see that water can be poured into the glass even past the top of the container. The water forms a slight “bubble” on top that is called a meniscus. You can float a needle on the surface of water by gently placing a small piece of tissue paper on the surface with a needle on top of it. The tissue paper will eventually sink, but the needle will rest on the top of the water without sinking. The surface tension holds the needle up. If you throw the needle in, the force will be greater than the surface tension and the needle will sink. This “magnetic” characteristic allows plants to pull up water molecules. When that happens, other molecules are connected to the ones that the plants pull up. This action allows plants to get the water they need to stay alive. When water defies gravity like this, it is called capillary action. You can see this take place by putting a drop of water on a hard surface and holding a piece of tissue on the drop. The water “climbs” the tissue despite the pull of gravity.

God’s amazing creative abilities are clearly seen in the unique properties of water. Who would have thought that a substance that seems so simple could show God’s power? Let’s always praise God for the good and perfect gifts He has given us, especially for water.



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