Water is Life

By: Sharon White
Thus, the suggestion of water having changed its properties would inevitably lead to drastic consequences on Earth. Life on our planet arose in an aquatic environment and most likely in the littoral zone where sunlight fully penetrates. In a world where ice sank, these shallow areas would be the first to freeze over completely. Would the first photosynthetic algae have survived a winter? Would marine life survive an ice age? Perhaps our landscape would be populated by survivors from other biospheres, such as land-dwelling descendants of the tube worms that live in underwater hydrothermal vents.

Water may exist in a freer form than previously thought, with water molecules constantly linking and unlinking, much like children playing games in a crowded schoolyard.

As water cools and begins to freeze, the molecules can be thought of children laying flat with hands and feet outstretched - they occupy much more room than the same children in motion, sliding and jostling past one another. The sudden increase in area required to fit the same number of molecules means water becomes expands as it freezes, causing water pipes to burst as the ice inside of them runs out of room. Most materials occupy less space as they solidify. As overall temperature and kinetic energy decrease; the resultant crystalline array usually assumes a form more like a stack of boxes than a crowd of rowdy schoolchildren. We have an obvious bias towards water-based life, derived largely from its ideal properties. If ice were denser than water, the oceans would gradually freeze from the bottom up, never having a chance to melt. Under such circumstances, water would no longer function as the cradle of life, and our first ancestors would have been as likely to crawl out of a puddle of liquid ammonia. What would life on this plant be like if ice sank instead of floating? Shrunken ice cubes would be certainly be easier to remove from the trayFree Reprint Articles, but both the beverage and the holder of the cocktail glass would be completely different!

Science
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Science
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles