Q: Water is necessary for every known life form. Describe some of the properties of water that make it so critical. Do any of these properties play a role in the structure or function of other molecules that are important to life?
A: Water is one of the three most essential substances; the three that keep us alive: air, food and water. Water has many, many different uses. We use it for drinking and agriculture (irrigation), among many other purposes.
One of water’s main functions is washing. We wash our bodies daily with it, as well as using it to brush our teeth and to do dishes with. But water is also used in the processing and washing of different chemical solutions, etc.
The property that most distinguishes water is its dissolving power. Water dissolves other molecules and certain compounds such as ionic compounds. Of course, there are certain molecules, such as oil, which are hydrophobic, meaning they are “afraid” of water—hydro meaning water and phobic meaning afraid (phobia). They cannot be dissolved.
Water is used for both cooling and for heating purposes. Water has a large capacity to transport heat through evaporation and condensation. In nuclear power plants, water is used both as a coolant and as a moderator. Water (obviously) puts out fires. It does this by destroying the fire molecules, thus eliminating the fire aspect.
Water binds together the “heads” of the phospholipids that form a cell wall.
Isn’t the snow falling in the winter so pretty? Snowflakes, with their myraid shapes and forms, are just another form of water, as is ice.
It is amazing how much we are surrounded by water. The dew in the early morning is water. The ocean is entirely water. Streams, rivers, fountains, waterfalls, pools, ponds, lakes— we are entirely surrounded by water.
Water is also used for recreation. Water balloon battles and swimming pools are tons of fun. Ever swum in the ocean?
Water is an extremely essential form of life. It is fun, tiresome, cheerful and melancholy. Imagine a running stream in the middle of a dense, green forest. The water jumps and plays and splashes over the rocks and fish in the water. As you raise the cool, refreshing liquid to your lips, you are transported into a heavenly bliss…