Student News

Molecule of the week – Water (Part 1)

Hills, Ivory – November 2, 2011

Water is everywhere, but is it friend or foe?  (Ask the ancient mariner for his opinion).  Water is probably the only substance that you have ever observed in all three states of matter: gas, liquid and solid.  During the first term the DA community has experienced the last steamy humid days of summer, fields and homes flooded with the life giving liquid and trees broken by the aggregate weight of the frozen state of a molecule that only bears three atoms (two hydrogens and an oxygen). 

This  begins a series of posts highlighting the amazing properties of water.  I first share with you some facts that may help you appreciate how unusual this vital molecule is.  You may already know that water is a fantastic solvent (more on this in future posts), but we can only take advantage of this due to the fact that H2O is actually a liquid at room temperature.  Water turns into a gas at 100 °C (room temperature is 25 °C) .  Very closely related molecules such as NH3, H2S and HF (compounds composed of neighboring atoms on the periodic table) boil from liquid to gas at  -33 °C, -60 °C, and 19 °C, respectively.  Furthermore, each of the other compounds would be deadly if you tried to bathe in them.  Water is clearly an outlier!