The Joy of Solid Water

Our visitor had just arrived in the United States from South America. He had never seen snow before arriving in South Bend on a fairly warm January day (for South Bend). As he looked out into our back yard he laughed heartily and said "How happy is your hard water." I had no idea what he was talking about, so I joined him at the door and saw the scene on the cover of this issue of our journal. The visitor was not referring to hard and soft water as we commonly describe our mineral loaded water in South Bend, but the solid state of water--snow. Our "hard water" made a snowman, something our visitor could not visualize from his experience. Nothing would stop him from joining my girls to make his own snowman. Snowman.gif

Water is indeed a remarkable material. The design of its molecular structure allows it to dissolve other materials in large amounts. This same structure allows water to hold huge amounts of heat. It also allows water to exist as a solid. Liquids like alcohol have a molecular design that does not make them anywhere near as good as water in these critical ways.

Perhaps the most important use of water is in living things. Without water digestion would be impossible. The control of temperature and heat in living things depends upon the presence of water. The earth as a planet controls and moderates temperatures by its use of water. Even the earth's ability to store water depends upon its molecular design as massive amounts are stored in polar and glacial ice.

My response to our visitor was that our hard water was a joy all right, but that water itself was the real joy--a material designed to serve the needs of all living things and in fact the basis of life itself.*

--John N. Clayton

 *Previously, we have discussed in more detail the unique properties of water. For a copy. send us a stamped self addressed envelope, and we will send one to you.

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