Did you drink a glass of water today, wash your hands or go swimming in a pool? You may not have realized it, but you were coming in direct contact with one of the most marvelous molecules in the universe! In fact, it’s the unique properties of water that enable all life on our planet to exist.
The secret to water’s success lies in its exquisite design. Water molecules are made in such a way that they stick to one another. If you don’t believe me, try filling a cup of water a little bit above the rim. The reason it doesn’t spill over is because the individual water molecules pull on each other in very weak and short-lived bonds that scientists call hydrogen bonds. Although each bond is frail and doesn’t last long, at any given time most of the water molecules are holding onto each other, preventing the water from spilling over.
Water molecules don’t just form bonds with each other, they actually bind to just about everything they come into contact with. When something like salt falls into water, the water molecules grab onto and pull apart the individual atoms that it is made up of. In a short amount of time, water can dissolve many of the substances needed for life. If not for water, the nutrients you need to stay healthy would be too big for the microscopic cells of your body to use. Water helps break them down, making them useful and easily transportable to all parts of your body.
Another unique property of water is that it floats when it freezes. Every liquid other than water gets denser and heavier upon freezing which makes it sink. If water were to ‘follow the crowd’ and sink when it froze, most oceans and lakes would freeze solid in the winter and the countless creatures that live in them would die from the cold. Hashem didn’t want that to happen, so He made it that when water freezes, the bonds between water molecules lock into place and the molecules are kept farther away from each other than when in liquid form. This results in ice having more empty space between molecules than water, making it lighter and able to float. The resulting layer of ice on top of oceans and lakes also helps keep the fish warm by forming a sort of insulating blanket that keeps out the bitter cold of the winter.
Enabling trees to grow tall is surely another wonder of water. Trees need a way to transport the water from underneath the ground to the branches and leaves at their heights. This is no simple task because the force of gravity is always pulling the water down towards the ground. The major force in water transport within trees is provided by the evaporation of water from leaves, a process we call transpiration. Since water molecules are stuck to each other, when water moves out of a leaf it pulls the rest of the water up along with it. This process is known as transpiration pull and can get water up to the top of even the tallest trees.
Isn’t it amazing how Hashem uses the seemingly simple water molecule to do so many things for the plants, animals and people of His world! If you want to see more of the kindnesses of your Creator, try thinking of all the ways you personally benefit from water. You may be surprised to find just how useful water is to you.
Article taken from the book "Barchi Nafshi, The Wonders of Creation"