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Water Water is used all around us everyday and is essential in the maintenance of life. Water is a requirement of the human body for the smooth functioning of body systems. Substituting other fluids for water can negatively impact one’s health, especially in the case of children. Children who drink juices in the place of water have a tendency to be overweight and are at risk for other problems associated with “normal” growth. For teens and adults, reliance on fluids other than water also has side effects. For example, the sugar in soda contributes to tooth decay in teens, while in adults, the phosphoric acid can ultimately diminish bone density. Water is an odorless, tasteless, and transparent liquid. It may look colorless in small amounts, but in large amounts such as an ocean, it looks slightly blue. Water is the most common liquid on earth. Three-fourths of earth’s surface is covered with water. Water is made up of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. Each hydrogen atom is connected to the oxygen atom by a covalent bond. The two H-O bonds form an angle of about 105 degrees. This arrangement results in a polar molecule. A polar molecule is a molecule with a net positive charge at the hydrogen ends and a net negative charge toward the oxygen end. This substance has a great amount of surface tension. Surface tension is a result of the water molecules clinging tightly together. This surface tension is responsible for causing a leaf to float on top of the water. The only liquid with a greater surface tension than water is mercury. Mercury’s atoms are so attracted to each other that they tend not to adhere to anything else. Therefore, mercury’s surface is able to hold heavier objects up, unlike any other liquid. Vaporization, or evaporation, is the change of a liquid to a gas. Water has a high heat of vaporization. At water’s boiling point, it takes 540 calories to change 1 gram of liquid water into vapor. Hydrogen bonding also plays a role in water’s high heat of vaporization. Vaporization comes from the rapid moving molecules. These molecules break loose from the surface and enter the air. The hotter the liquid, the faster the molecules move. Therefore, the hotter the liquid gets, the more vaporization occurs. In order for a water molecule to vaporize, it must break from its hydrogen bonds. This process requires taking heat from its surroundings, which, in turn, cools those surrounding elements. This is one way in which animals and plants stabilize their temperatures. Freezing of water occurs when its density increases. The density increases as the temperature drops. The molecules start to move slower and the space decreases between them. At 0 degrees C, the freezing point of water, the water becomes its hardest, or “most stable”. Water in solid form takes up a greater amount of volume than water as a liquid. Also, ice is much more dense than liquid, therefore the ice floats in liquid. Water supports many different processes. It is a crucial nutrient in the growth of the human body and is a key element in the stabilization of earth’s ecosystems. Water is the most abundant liquid on earth and is also the most important.
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