WATER'S life-giving properties exist on a knife-edge. It turns out that life as we know it relies on a fortuitous, but incredibly delicate, balance of quantum forces.
Water is one of the planet's weirdest liquids, and many of its most bizarre features make it life-giving. For example, its higher density as a liquid than as a solid means ice floats on water, allowing fish to survive under partially frozen rivers and lakes. And unlike many liquids, it takes a lot of heat to warm water up even a little, a quality that allows mammals to regulate their body temperature.
But computer simulations show that quantum mechanics nearly robbed water of these life-giving features. Most of them arise due to weak hydrogen bonds that hold H2O molecules together in a networked structure. For example, it is hydrogen bonds that hold ice molecules in a more open structure than in liquid water, leading to a lower density. By contrast, without hydrogen bonds, liquid molecules move freely and take up more space than in rigid solid structures.
Yet in simulations that include quantum effects, hydrogen bond lengths keep changing thanks to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which says no molecule can have a definite position with respect to the others. This destabilises the network, removing many of water's special properties. "It breaks down big time," says Philip Salmon of the University of Bath in the UK.
How water continues to exist as a network of hydrogen bonds, in the face of these destabilising quantum effects, was a mystery.
Please read the whole article to learn about the delicately balanced role of the quantum world in water and its unique properties.
My song Change and Renewal helps to show how important I believe water is to the whole mystery of life, consciousness, and the patterns that exist across the extra dimensions that allow the universe we are witnessing right this moment to spring into existence. Likewise, with entries like The Big Bang and the Big O, and Creativity and the Quantum Universe, we've talked about water and its fascinating role in life and reality, and also how it ties to the burgeoning field of quantum biology. In Holograms and Quanta and We Are All Quanta, we looked at a number of the new discoveries that relate to this field. But now with the new information provided in the above article, it behooves us again to marvel at the complex series of events that have caused our universe to be selected from an omniverse of possible patterns. And it's moments like these that make me Thankful for the amazing, beautiful, and unlikely world we see around us every day.
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIfN1RM9X6I
Sing along, and enjoy the journey!
Next: New Video - Imagining the Sixth Dimension