“It behaves as if it doesn’t have to follow the standard rules of chemistry. ... No molecule besides water has these amazing properties” (Kenneth Poppe, Exposing Darwinism’s Weakest Link, pp. 73, 81).
Most molecules are either polar or non-polar, either symmetrical or asymmetrical, but H20 is different. It is slightly polar and slightly symmetrical. “By having the two bonded hydrogens at a partial angle, this still allows the molecule two different areas of magnetic polarity, but only with a lesser attraction” (Poppe, p. 76). This allows the molecule to be very dynamic and thus accommodate a great variety of conditions. It “helps create many of its magic capabilities.”
Water remains a liquid at normal earth temperatures, instead of a gas. This allows it to be usable by all living creatures. Whereas C02, which is twice as heavy as H20, is always a gas. “By chemistry’s dictates, water should immediately join carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leaving our planet’s surface completely dry” (Poppe p. 80).
The reason this doesn’t happen is H20’s cohesion property (the hydrogen bond). The molecules “cling to one another with enough strength to stay in your glass on a hot summer day,” but the cohesion is weak enough to allow for gradual evaporation, which is necessary for the planet’s water cycle. “It is light enough to easily vaporize, while being dense enough to float the largest of objects” (Poppe, p. 81).
Water floats when frozen, which makes it possible for marine life to exist. If ice did not float, bodies of water would freeze from the bottom up. The reason that frozen water floats is because it does not act like other molecules. Instead of being more dense as a solid, it is less dense and thus frozen water rises to the top of liquid water. “As water molecules lose their kinetic energy of motion, the liquid’s volume begins to contract as per normal. But at the last moment, as the molecules begin to configure in a crystalline structure at 32 degrees F. (0 degrees C.), the partial polarity actually forces them to align in a slightly expanded pattern.”
Because of water’s cohesive and adhesive properties, the molecules cling to one another and are drawn by one another. An example of this process is the way water will move up a straw higher than the water level of the glass in which it is inserted. This property allows water to move up a plant or tree without a pump or suction action provided by the tree. For example, a cottonwood tree takes up 150 gallons of water (half a ton) a day. “Imagine a plant’s xylem tissue in the stem, filled with microscopically hollow sieve tubes and cylindrical vessels stacked on each other, and up the molecules go, being drawn rather than pushed. The combination of cohesive and adhesive forces allow the molecules to gradually work their way up the stem or trunk, move through the branches and into the veins of the leaf, and eventually reach the stoma in the leaves. Then solar power causes them to quickly evaporate into the air, allowing others underneath to move up. Note that this requires no energy expenditure on the part of the plant. Upward water movement will even take place in cut flowers without roots, keeping them fresh for a few days” (Poppe, pp. 82, 83).
Another example of water’s cohesive property is the action of a water drop. For example, it holds its shape when it falls to earth and clings to leaves to allow for slow evaporation. “Imagine how fast the essential morning dew would disappear if the moisture were smeared as a thin glaze over the plant’s surface” (Poppe, Exposing Darwinism’s Weakest Link, p. 84).
Water has a much higher than expected “specific heat,” so that it warms slowly and retains heat longer. Since about 75% of the earth is covered with water, this property allows the earth to maintain the proper temperature for life. “It does not go through the tremendous daytime-to-nighttime temperature extremes common to all other planets. Not only does this moderate the Earth’s overall temperature ranges, but it keeps lakes, ponds, and even puddles from day/night heat surges and crashes that would dramatically impact life” (Poppe, p. 84).
This property of water, which gives it extraordinary temperature stability, also allows warm-blooded animals (whose bodies are composed of 70% water) to survive.
Water is a universal solvent.
Water is an effective transport substance. “It is the only medium that can circulate absolutely any substance that animals require for life” (Poppe, Exposing Darwinism’s Weakest Link, p. 86). Water can even transport non-polar molecules like oils (and fats and waxes) by creating a hydration shell, which is an envelope surrounding the oil molecule composed of several water molecules that are linked by their hydrogen bonds.
The following is from “The Coherence of an Engineered World,” D. Halsmer, J. Asper, N. Roman, and T. Todd, International Journal of Design and Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(1):47-65, 2009:
The remarkable properties of water are numerous. Its very high specific heat maintains relatively stable temperatures both in oceans and organisms. As a liquid, its thermal conductivity is four times any other common liquid, which makes it possible for cells to efficiently distribute heat. On the other hand, ice has a low thermal conductivity, making it a good thermal shield in high latitudes. A latent heat of fusion only surpassed by that of ammonia tends to keep water in liquid form and creates a natural thermostat at 0°C. Likewise, the highest latent heat of vaporization of any substance - more than five times the energy required to heat the same amount of water from 0°C-100°C - allows water vapor to store large amounts of heat in the atmosphere. This very high latent heat of vaporization is also vital biologically because at body temperature or above, the only way for a person to dissipate heat is to sweat it off.
Water's remarkable capabilities are definitely not only thermal. A high vapor tension allows air to hold more moisture, which enables precipitation. Water's great surface tension is necessary for good capillary effect for tall plants, and it allows soil to hold more water. Water's low viscosity makes it possible for blood to flow through small capillaries. A very well documented anomaly is that water expands into the solid state, which keeps ice on the surface of the oceans instead of accumulating on the ocean floor. Possibly the most important trait of water is its unrivaled solvency abilities, which allow it to transport great amounts of minerals to immobile organisms and also hold all of the contents of blood. It is also only mildly reactive, which keeps it from harmfully reacting as it dissolves substances.
Recent research has revealed how water acts as an efficient lubricator in many biological systems from snails to human digestion. By itself, water is not very effective in this role, but it works well with certain additives, such as some glycoproteins.
The sum of these traits makes water an ideal medium for life. Literally, every property of water is suited for supporting life. ...
All these traits are contained in a simple molecule of only three atoms. One of the most difficult tasks for an engineer is to design for multiple criteria at once. ... Satisfying all these criteria in one simple design is an engineering marvel. Also, the design process goes very deep since many characteristics would necessarily be changed if one were to alter fundamental physical properties such as the strong nuclear force or the size of the electron.
Water is indeed ‘an engineering marvel’.
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