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Three Properties Of Water Essay

Properties Of Water Essay

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Water is essential for life as we know it on earth. It is used by plants and animals for basic biological processes which would be impossible without the use of water. The origin of all life can be traced back to the water in the Earth¹s precambrien seas. Water is also the universal solvent. It reacts with more elements and compounds than any other substance known to man.

        Water is a polar molecule made up of on atom of hydrogen and two atoms of oxygen. It is attracted to itself by hydrogen bonds. Hydrogen bonds are weaker than covalent bonds, but collectively these bonds hold water together and give it its cohesiveness. These bonds are also very important to water¹s ability to absorb heat, as without hydrogen bonds water would have a boiling point of -80 degrees C and a freezing point of -100 degrees C.

        In reality, however, water has a boiling point of 100 degrees C and a freezing point of 0 degrees C. The amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one Celsius degree is called a Calorie. One Calorie is about twice as much energy as you need to warm one gram of most other fluids by the same amount. This makes water much better for regulating the temperatures of animals and the environment.

        Water also has a very high heat of vaporization. Converting one gram of cold water into ice requires 80 Calories of energy. Converting the same amount of very hot water into steam requires 540. The high amounts of energy required to change water from its liquid state make water tend to stay a fluid. The process of freezing water involves slowing down the activity of the water molecules until they contract and enter into a solid state. Once the ice is cooled down to 4 degrees or less, the hydrogen bonds no longer contract, but they become rigid and open, and the ice becomes less dense. Because the ice has become less dense, it floats on liquid water. Water freezes from the top down. Once the top freezes, it acts as an insulator, so that the water beneath it takes a very long time to cool off enough that it freezes. This also traps just enough warmth to keep marine animals alive during the winter.

        The process of turning water into steam is a different story. Because it requires the breaking of water¹s hydrogen bonds, this process takes far more energy than it does to turn water into ice. The extra energy that is used in converting water into steam helps keep the overall temperature from getting too hot. In this manner water regulates the temperature of both animals when they sweat, and the earth through evaporation.

        Water affects the earth¹s ecosystems in very important ways as well. When water in the earth¹s saltwater bodies evaporates into the air. This water vapor then cools off, becomes liquid again, and then falls as rain or snow. The salt is left behind, and the resulting...

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One of the things that makes our planet special is the presence of liquid water. Water is fundamental for all life; without it every living thing would die. It covers about 70% of Earth's surface and it makes up 65-75% of our bodies (82% of our blood is water). Even though water seems boring – no color, taste, or smell – it has amazing properties that make it necessary for supporting life.

The chemical composition of water is H2O – two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Water has special properties because of the way these atoms bond together to form a water molecule, and the way the molecules interact with each other.

When the two hydrogen atoms bond with the oxygen, they attach to the top of the molecule rather like Mickey Mouse ears. This molecular structure gives the water molecule polarity, or a lopsided electrical charge that attracts other atoms. The end of the molecule with the two hydrogen atoms is positively charged. The other end, with the oxygen, is negatively charged. Just like in a magnet, where north poles are attracted to south poles ('opposites attract'), the positive end of the water molecule will connect with the negative end of other molecules.

What does this mean for us? Water's polarity allows it to dissolve other polar substances very easily. When a polar substance is put in water, the positive ends of its molecules are attracted to the negative ends of the water molecules, and vice versa. The attractions cause the molecules of the new substance to be mixed uniformly with the water molecules. Water dissolves more substances than any other liquid – even the strongest acid! Because of this, it is often called the 'universal solvent.' The dissolving power of water is very important for life on Earth. Wherever water goes, it carries dissolved chemicals, minerals, and nutrients that are used to support living things.

Because of their polarity, water molecules are strongly attracted to one another, which gives water a high surface tension. The molecules at the surface of the water “stick together” to form a type of 'skin' on the water, strong enough to support very light objects. Insects that walk on water are taking advantage of this surface tension. Surface tension causes water to clump in drops rather than spreading out in a thin layer. It also allows water to move through plant roots and stems and the smallest blood vessels in your body – as one molecule moves up the tree root or through the capillary, it 'pulls' the others with it.

Water is the only natural substance that can exist in all three states of matter – solid, liquid, and gas – at the temperatures normally found on Earth. Many other substances have to be super-heated or -cooled to change states. The gaseous state of water is present continually in our atmosphere as water vapor. The liquid state is found everywhere in rivers, lakes, and oceans. The solid state of water, ice, is unique. Most liquids contract as they are cooled, because the molecules move slower and have less energy to resist attraction to each other. When they freeze into solids they form tightly-packed crystals that are much denser than the liquid was originally. Water doesn't act this way. When it freezes, it expands: the molecules line up to form a very 'open' crystalline structure that is less dense than liquid water. This is why ice floats. And it's a good thing it does! If water acted like most other liquids, lakes and rivers would freeze solid and all life in them would die.

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