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9 Awesome Water Facts
Water, water, everywhere, but we never stop to think. Water is all around us, all the time, so why don’t we take the time to appreciate just how fascinating it is? Whether you want to dip your toe in or jump in the deep end, these water facts should quench your thirst for knowledge!
1. Hot water freezes faster than cold water
This is about as counterintuitive as it gets, but it’s true! If you fill one ice cube tray with water heated to 90°C and another with 25°C water, the hottest one freezes first. It’s named the Mpemba Effect, after the Tanzanian student who discovered it in the 1960’s, and scientists still can’t agree on exactly why it happens – is it because of hydrogen bonds? The nucleation of hexagonal ice? Convection currents? Molecular hydro-metaphysics?
Ok, I made that last one up.
2. Less than 1% of water on Earth is drinkable
Did you know that saltwater makes up 97% of all water on Earth? And of the small amount of fresh water that’s available, two-thirds of it is frozen in glaciers and ice caps?
No, of course not. Why would you? Silly question. Well, anyway, you do now!
3. A healthy adult should drink 2 litres of water everyday to remain healthy
Obviously, this depends on your gender, body weight, how hot it is, how much physical activity you do, and a whole range of other factors. Aiming for 2 litres every day is a good place to start, though!
Not drinking enough water can leave you feeling bummed out, unable to concentrate, headache-y or dizzy. So keep that water bottle close!
If you need tips on the best way to rehydrate, we’ve got you covered.
4. The total amount of water on Earth never changes
Earth’s water cycle is a closed system; though water travels through lakes, oceans, underground springs, clouds and glaciers, the only way it can actually leave our Earth is on board a space shuttle.
That means that you could be drinking the same water molecules that were drank by Cleopatra, or Julius Caesar, or a stegosaurus.
5. There have been attempts to ban water entirely
In the 90’s, a group of university students distributed leaflets that sparked panic and outrage about dihydrogen monoxide: a clear, odourless chemical that can cause severe burns and is fatal if inhaled. What’s worse, traces of dihydrogen monoxide – the major component of acid rain – were reportedly found in food and kitchens around campus.
Of course, dihydrogen monoxide is just an unfamiliar chemical term for plain ol’ water.
6. Water is one of the foundations of the metric system
Ever wondered why one litre of water weighs exactly one kilogram? Or why that one litre fits exactly into a 10cm cube?
Well, when the French Academy of Sciences sat down to whip up the metric system, they wanted it to be truly universal, so they based it on the natural world. A metre was to be one ten-millionth of the distance between the Equator and the North Pole. A litre was to be the amount of water that could fit into a 0.1 metre square. The weight of that water was to be called a kilogram.
And there you have it. A nice, easy way to measure the water you’re drinking – helpful for Fact #3.
8. Sound travels faster underwater
About 4x faster, in fact. A soundwave travels by bumping particles into other particles; that’s why there’s no sound in outer space – because there are no particles.
Underwater, particles are much closer together, so the vibration energy of a soundwave can be transferred much more quickly. However, this also means that the intensity of the soundwave needs to be higher for it to travel underwater, but then it can travel for longer distances than in air.
9. The largest water mass ever discovered is 12 billion lightyears away
It’s a giant cloud of mist floating in space, surrounding a quasar with the catchy name of ‘APM 08279+5255’. NASA scientists estimate that it could fill Earth’s oceans 140 trillion times.
Bonus fun fact: Scientists only confirmed that water existed outside of Earth in 1969. Now they’ve found a space-puddle big enough to share between 28 whole galaxies.