Wonderful water


Credit: World Scientific

We've all seen videos of hot water instantly turning into snow when thrown out of flasks or cups into very cold air. But do you know why is it that this doesn't happen when cold water is thrown instead?

Or do you know how water is transported all the way up to the top of a plant, even in very tall trees? How about how to set ice on fire? Or whether water has a memory?

Wonders of Water: The Hydrogen Bond in Action answers these questions and more, such as:

  • Why the maximum density of water is reached at +4oC, and how these unusual properties have many important effects in Nature.
  • Why warm water freezes faster than cold water.
  • The name and purpose of a mysterious, very hard, material made by mixing ice and wood pulp created by a secret project during World War 2 (rumor has it that it was allegedly strong enough to build a ship that could be used as a landing strip for aircraft!).
  • The true (and close!) connection between the surface temperature of the earth and the atmospheric content of methane and carbon dioxide, and the part water plays in this complicated relationship between the earth and climate change.

According to the classical Chinese text Tao Te Ching ("the book of the way") "the highest excellence is like water. There is nothing in the world softer and weaker than water, and yet, when it comes to attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can surpass it — because there is nothing that is so effective that it can replace water." This may look like a strong exaggeration but it is actually very true: All over the world you will find a countless number of traces from the strong action of water and ice through the history of the earth.

The water molecule is the second most common molecule in the Universe (there is a hundred times more water molecules in our bodies than the sum of all the other molecules put together!) and ice is the most abundant solid material. Snow and ice appear in a countless large number of different shapes and the properties are very special and unique in several respects.

Wonders of Water: The Hydrogen Bond in Action illustrates the fascinating world of the different forms of water, from ice and snow to liquid water. It differs from most books on water as it covers basic facts about structure and properties as well as the influence of these properties in our daily life. There is plenty to interest the general reader as well as chemists and physicists.

Water plays a unique role in chemistry and although tremendous research has been spent on this seemingly simple substance, there are still many unsolved questions about the structure of liquid water. The special properties of water are due to hydrogen bonding between the H2O molecules and this book may be seen as a tribute to the hydrogen bond. The hydrogen bond is of fundamental importance in biological systems since all living matter has evolved from and exists in an aqueous environment and hydrogen bonds are involved in most biological processes.

b> Wonders of Water: The Hydrogen Bond in Action retails for US$58 / £51 (hardcover) and US$28 / £25 (paperback) at leading bookstores. To know more about the book visit http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/10684.

Now back to that question about how water is transported upwards in tall trees. This happens all because of one factor that makes the suction from the leaves at all possible: the hydrogen bonds between the water molecules. They are what keep the water column in the tube system. Without hydrogen bonds no water can be transported from the roots to the leaves in the trees!


About the Author

Ivar Olovsson is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. At the Chemistry department, he built up a very strong research group studying the structure and properties of inorganic as well as organic hydrogen-bonded compounds. X-ray and neutron diffraction, NMR and IR spectroscopy have been combined with Quantum Mechanical Calculations to find the fundamental facts about the hydrogen bond.

Among early works to be noted, are the crystal structures of solid ammonia and a large number of strong acid hydrates, with the classical ions H3O+, H5O2+, H7O3+ and H9O4+. As most such compounds are liquid or gaseous at normal temperature, special low-temperature equipment was developed, where diffraction work could be performed down to 20K. Other work has been directed to studies of the influence of the environment on the charge distribution of the water molecule and to the charge and spin density of 3d metal ions.

He has spent a total of five years in leading foreign research centers in Berkeley, California; Institut Laue Langevin, Grenoble, France; and the University of Konstanz, Germany. He is the author of over 120 scientific publications and many chapters in textbooks on hydrogen bonding. Ivar is a member of the program committees of several international crystallographic meetings. He has received gold medals from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Swedish Chemical society, as well as the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Medal from The Polish Chemical Society. He is a Knight of the Order of the Polar Star (Sweden) and Chevalier Palmes Académiques (France). Ivar is also a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (since 1974).

About World Scientific Publishing Co.

World Scientific Publishing is a leading independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research, professional and educational communities. The company publishes about 600 books annually and about 130 journals in various fields. World Scientific collaborates with prestigious organizations like the Nobel Foundation and US National Academies Press to bring high quality academic and professional content to researchers and academics worldwide. To find out more about World Scientific, please visit http://www.worldscientific.com.

For more information, contact Amanda Yun at [email protected]

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