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Water, Water Everywhere — And It’s Weirder Than You Think

Researchers at The University of Tokyo have used computational methods and analysis of recent experimental data to demonstrate that water molecules take two distinct structures in the liquid state. The team investigated the scattering of X-ray photons through water samples and showed a bimodal distribution hidden under the first diffraction peak that resulted from tetrahedral and non-tetrahedral arrangements of water molecules. This work may have important implications throughout science, but especially with regard to living systems, like proteins and cell structures, which are strongly affected by their surrounding water molecules. Given the ubiquity of water on our planet and the central role it plays in all known life, it may be hard to believe that there is anything left to learn about this most familiar fluid. A simple molecule made up of just two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen; water still hides fundamental mysteries that remain to be unraveled. For example, water has unusually high melting and boiling points, and even expands when it freezes (unlike most liquids, which contract). These and other unusual properties make it very different from almost all other liquids, but also allow life as we know it to exist.  Read more....

 

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