Wednesday, May 7, 2014

#60 Water

Of all the treasures that we could talk about on earth, the number one most valuable substance is water. Every living being requires water. As a matter of fact, every living cell requires water.

The water molecule is so unique and special among all substances. It is so finely tuned and ideally suited to foster the existence of life that it is impossible to rationally conclude it was a cosmic accident. It is much easier to accept that it was miraculously designed.

A water molecule is totally different from the normal properties that would be expected from the patterns of similar compounds in the Periodic Table of Elements. Its freezing temperature and boiling point are way too high. It should be a gas at room temperatures. It should turn from ice to liquid at around -100°C (instead of 0°C) and then from liquid to gas at around -80°C (instead of 100°C). This would mean almost all the water on Earth would not exist (and neither would we).

Water is everywhere on Earth, covering 71% [1] of the Earth’s surface. “Earth is the only known planet to have bodies of liquid water on its surface.”[2] No other planet in the known universe has even the tiniest fraction of this much water. Think about the implications of that truth and the specialness of our “home” in the vast universe.

This much water allows for gigantic numbers of species to live in the water, especially the tiny life giving organisms like algae and plankton which produce a lot of the oxygen and nutrition for most species. “It is estimated that marine plants produce between 70 and 80 percent of the oxygen in the atmosphere.” [3]

What is the origin of water? It is so absolutely essential to all life that without water there could never have been any life. The properties of water are so chemically unusual and yet so absurdly complementary and coordinated with life that it is impossible to conceive that this is an accidental relationship. The most rational conclusion is that water and life were designed.

All of your needs for Oxygen, down to the last cell, are provided by the water in our blood. The way you get rid of Carbon Dioxide is provided by water. Water does the same thing for plants, but in reverse.

Even the smallest variation in any of the properties of water would be the end of us. It is all functioning miraculously on the tiniest cellular level.

“If the angle between hydrogen atoms in the water molecule were different, there would be no complex life-giving molecules, and no life on earth.” [4]

This property is one of my favorites. When water freezes, it expands. Only a small handful of other substances do that. But because it does that, frozen water, i.e. ice, floats. The density of ice is almost ten times lighter than liquid water. [5] If water were a normal compound, its frozen form would sink. But imagine if ice were to sink, then in winter when all the lakes would freeze, then the ice would sink to the bottom. Then new water on the top of the lake would freeze and sink to the bottom. Soon the whole lake from the bottom up would be frozen solid, killing all the fish and plants. When could it ever thaw out? It would take a really long time if ever with the sun only melting the ice on the surface. But fortunately that’s not what happens because of how water is designed. The ice floats and actually provides a protective layer against the cold for all life under the surface. Doesn’t that sound like it was designed by a brilliant, loving intelligence that was concerned for the life it created?

You probably realize cooler water sinks. This creates what is called “stratification”. You might have noticed this when swimming in a lake, that the water down deeper is colder. However, when water becomes ice it rises to the top. This causes a churning effect in the spring and fall that circulates and oxygenates the lake waters. That effect is very beneficial for plant and animal life in the lakes. Also because the warmer water stays on top, the sun’s heat cannot penetrate so deeply that it would harm the animal and plant life below.

An important property of water due to hydrogen bonding is called “cohesion”. The hydrogen atoms are constantly bonding and breaking bonds in tiny fractions of a second. “Cohesion due to hydrogen bonding contributes to the formation of waves and other water movements that occur in lakes. Water movements are integral components of the lake system and play an important role in the distribution of temperature, dissolved gases, and nutrients. These movements also determine the distribution of microorganisms and plankton.” [6]

Water has a high degree of surface tension. This also creates a protection effect, not only for lakes and oceans, but even in our own bodies. “Water has a greater surface tension than all other liquids except mercury.” [7] That surface tension is what makes water drops take the shape of spheres. Water falling from the sky takes the shape of drops. These can act like little bullets to penetrate and refresh plant life and the earth. They can dissolve and wash away toxins. It mixes up soils and fertilizes. It erodes rocks over time, making soil. It churns the oceans, benefitting fish and plant life.

Water rains down to the earth to nourish all life. It then flows towards streams and rivers to the sea where it evaporates and goes back into the atmosphere to repeat the cycle. The unidirectional flow of water in the evaporation/condensation cycle enables water all over the earth to continuously cleanse itself and renew the earth and all forms of life.

When water is heated in hot climates, the water vapor can carry large amounts of heat energy away to cooler locations and then release it in the form of rain. This cools the hotter climates and warms the colder ones, while at the same time refreshing and oxygenating the atmosphere.

"Water is called the ‘universal solvent’ because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid. This means that wherever water goes, either through the ground or through our bodies, it takes along valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients." [8] This allows water to carry nutrition throughout your body to every one of your 100 trillion cells. It also allows the water to extract the waste products from your cells and carry them to the organ that is designed to eliminate them.

Colloidal action is another special property of water. The inherent vibration by the H2O molecules pushes around any dissolved substances so they are evenly distributed throughout the water.

Capillary action and surface tension are also important properties. This means that water goes into the tiniest of cracks and crevices automatically. This makes your life so much easier because your heart does not have to provide huge amounts of force to get your blood to circulate through all the tiny capillaries to supply all your cells. Blood carries nutrients to every cell in the bodies of all animals and then removes waste products. Water in the sap in trees and plants carries nutrients for their life.

“Water also has the ability to pass through cell membranes and climb great heights in plants and trees through osmosis and capillary force. Osmotic pressure and capillary action enable water to climb hundreds of feet to the tops of the highest trees. The mystery of osmosis enables plants to feed, and plants and animals to carry on a multitude of life processes.  Osmosis enables marine creatures to absorb fresh water in an increasing salt-water environment.” [9]

Water has a highest heat capacity of any liquid, [10] meaning it can absorb relatively huge amounts of heat. This means it is slow to increase in temperature and to eventually boil. It also releases heat very slowly. The whole planet and everything on it benefits from this. The sand on the beach can get so hot you can’t walk on it, but the ocean stays cool and doesn’t turn to steam.

The oceans keep our entire environment from getting way too hot and conversely from getting way too cold. Water makes a “womb” for all life, a protective habitat. It’s almost analogous to the female womb that lovingly supports the growth of new life. Near large bodies of water, the winters are warmer and the summers are cooler.

Because water can absorb great amounts of heat and our bodies are mostly water, it means our body temperature is much easier to regulate and there are not huge swings to deal with. Our body even has a mechanism to release sweat that will evaporate from our skin taking heat with it and keeping us cooler.

“"More energy is required to evaporate liquid water than most other substances. To evaporate each gram of water at room temperature, about 580 calories of heat are needed, which is nearly double the amount needed to vaporize a gram of alcohol or ammonia." [11]

Water remains a liquid over a very large range (0°C to 100°C, 32°F to 212°F). Most other substances have a much shorter range between solid and gaseous states. This range allows life to exist over a large spectrum of temperatures.

One source noted that water has "at least twenty-one anomalies, properties that the laws of chemistry and physics say it should not have." [12]

This doesn’t cover all the amazing properties of water, but let’s get to the point. Does this prove that God exists? Suppose every morning when you wake up, you go outside your front door and there waiting for you is exactly all the food and water that you will need for the day to live. The next day the same. The day after that the same. It never fails. All your essential needs are provided for in exactly the right proportions. If any of the ingredients were to vary slightly, you would starve or die of thirst. Could this be just a cosmic accident? The odds are so infinitesimally small as to be non-existent.

There must be God.

[1] How much water is there on, in, and above the Earth? U. S. Geological Survey

[2] Are there oceans on other planets? National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U. S. Dept. of Commerce.

[4] Twenty Three Unique Properties of Water.

[5] What happens to marine life when a lake or pond is frozen?

[6] Student Reading - The Unique Properties of Water. (The ensuing discussion is adapted from Campbell, N.A. 1996. Biology (4th edition))

[7] Student Reading - The Unique Properties of Water. (The ensuing discussion is adapted from Campbell, N.A. 1996. Biology (4th edition))

[8] Water Properties and Measurements, U. S. Geological Survey.

[9] Twenty Three Unique Properties of Water.
[10] Water Properties and Measurements, U. S. Geological Survey.

[11] Student Reading - The Unique Properties of Water. (The ensuing discussion is adapted from Campbell, N.A. 1996. Biology (4th edition))

[12] Twenty Three Unique Properties of Water.

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