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Bonding with water (series)
We are so used to water that we take it for granted. Water covers most of our planet and we are virtually bags of water with a sprinkling of other chemicals swished in for good luck.

But take a close look at the water molecule itself and you'll find it is a most pecular substance indeed. This is something we should be grateful for since it's water's peculiar properties that makes it the stuff of life. For example, ice is less dense (and not more dense) than liquid water - which is just as well since it floats on the surface of ponds or polar regions of the ocean rather than freezing the aquatic life solid.

Studying water molecules is usually the work of chemists and physicists. But even researchers studying wetlands or forests, oceans and the organisms living there, often find they must go back to basics if they are to understand how water's role in these complex ecosystems.
 

This has been the case with Professor Greg Skilbeck, from the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. An oceanographer, Greg is studying sediments in the deep oceans, and in shallow marine and coastal environments, looking for scientific details about El Nino events since the last ice age 18,000 years ago. This research took him back to the chemistry books to understand how water molecules interact with each other and with the many substances found in ocean water.

In this series Greg and colleagues present some of water's unusual properties and behaviours and we soon discover that in many cases it has a lot to do with water's desire to be a very social molecule - it just loves to bond with its fellow water molecules...and in a strong and lasting relationship.

Why water likes to be liquid

Water is a most peculiar molecule - it breaks all sorts of rules about how molecules should behave. And it's these peculiarities that make it so essential to life.
0 to 100 degrees C - a wide ranging liquid

And a property that is essential for the survival of life forms whose habitats experience dramatic temperature changes on a daily or seasonal basis.
Turning water into ice or steam

Why it takes so much energy to turn water into steam and much less for ice to change to water.
Sweating it out

We use perspiration as a very efficient cooling system and it is in fact the basis of evaporative air conditioners.
Why does salt dissolve in water but not in kero?

A case of horses for courses - or different types of bonds between different kinds of molecules.
Ice - not so dense

have you ever wondered how skaters can glide so effortlessly over ice which is a pretty hard and bumpy substance? Or why ponds don't freeze solid and why icebergs float?.. more examples of H2O breaking all the rules.
Persuading oil to dissolve in water

Doing the daily dishes and cleaning up oil spills on the ocean have quite a bit in common and it's all to do with the intriguing properties of both water and detergents.
Dissolving gases in water

An essential for life as we know it.
Why is water 'neutral' and not an acid or an alkali

It's another question of balance - this time of the two charged ions into which a water molecule can separate (H+ and OH-)
pH - what is it?

Most people with a swimming pool or spa measure pH - but what does it mean or what use is it?
 

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