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Thread: Why is water the perfect medium for life?

  1. #1 Why is water the perfect medium for life? 
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    Here's the simple question seeking a simple answer: Why is water the perfect medium for life?


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  3. #2 Re: Why is water the perfect medium for life? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metatron
    Here's the simple question seeking a simple answer: Why is water the perfect medium for life?
    1. Because it is a liquid in the temperature range that corresponds to the activation energy a huge variety of organic chemical reactions.
    2. It's a very good solvent for most ionic and polar organic compounds, and gases.
    3. Hydrogen bonding allows water as a solvent to act as an active media to participate and facilitate many organic reactions.
    4. It is abundant on the surface of earth.

    There are other liquids which may also be good for facilitating life, in a different world with a completely different biochemistry. Examples are liquid ammonia, liquid SO2, liquid H2S, supercritical CO2, DMSO and DMF (though I really doubt DMSO or DMF would form naturally in significant amounts).


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    i wonder what the world would be life if we grew uo with coke?

    as for H2O is the best, i prefer it to anything

    but i love tea
    Stumble on through life.
    Feel free to correct any false information, which unknown to me, may be included in my posts. (also - let this be a disclaimer)
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    Actually, in addition to all of those excellent reasons, why water is the best medium for life, and the evolution of life, it's quite quite stable. Energetically, it takes lots of energy to break down the water molecule, unlike NH3 and the others, which are relatively high energy. It cannot be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen without a great deal of energy input. The very stability of water is its chief quality.

    The second, is the high quantity of water in space. It's not just common here, it's one of the commonest compounds in the solar system and the universe. This also is due to its stability. Those compounds which are unstable rapidly disappear. Those which are stable persist after they are created and in fact increase in quantity over time, because they are.

    The other factor is that living systems require circulating nutrients. Clearly, on an agar plate the bacteria will die there once the local nutrients are gone & waste products buildup. But within water, given the liquidity of it and its nearness to a heat source, making it liquid, it can provide those recirculations, which can allow life to not only evolve, but to survive. (The biological observation most lower life needs water in which to reproduce, both plants and animals, is also yet another form of this principle.)

    Life as we know it, that is multicellular life, very likely arose in the oceans as the intra-cellular fluids are simply modified ocean water. Thus we carry within us the medium within which our ancestors evolved.

    One other major characteristic of water is that, it, unlike almost other compounds, expands as it freezes. Thus water will form floating ice and unless there is a massively cold environment, lakes and oceans will NOT freeze thru, as they would if ice sank, and thus the body would sequentially freeze thru and thru. And all life in such a body, would freeze to death. Ice forms on the surface of liquid water, thus allowing life to survive.

    So water, is, again in addition to Silylene's fine facts, a very good medium for life, indeed the only one stable enough, and with the right characteristics in which life can evolve, develop and live.
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    Another reason is that water is good at dissapating heat due to its high thermic capacity, which results from the formation of hydrogen bonds between negatively charged oxygen and positively charged hydrogen atoms.
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    All in all, water is such a remarkable compound that if it did not exist someone would have to invent it.
    Oh, dear. Did I just provide ammunition for the Intelligent Design lobby?
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    All in all, water is such a remarkable compound that if it did not exist someone would have to invent it.
    Oh, dear. Did I just provide ammunition for the Intelligent Design lobby?
    Of course someone invented it, the universe is so complex it just HAD to be designed by something...
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    All in all, water is such a remarkable compound that if it did not exist someone would have to invent it.
    There is no reason to suppose that there 'where' (language fails to describe an event that is not bound to the current reference point) no similar occurences as the forming of the universe 'next'/'aside' to our own, where the compound water did not exist in its shape, and where life was thus not expressed. Like our own existence is an amazing amount of chance (your ancestors where all lucky enough to survive the various diseases, wars et cetera that flowed around the world before having children.), why would our universe, and the expression of life therein be not similary chance-oriented?

    When we view the tiger, we can awe at its perfect role in nature as something that is supernatural, but we can also consider that had it not been so perfect, it would have died after two generations. Things seem perfect, because they are perfect, because if they were not perfect, they would have died. Natural selection does not need scientific basis. It follows from rational thought.

    Mr U
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ultrashogun
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    All in all, water is such a remarkable compound that if it did not exist someone would have to invent it.
    Oh, dear. Did I just provide ammunition for the Intelligent Design lobby?
    Of course someone invented it, the universe is so complex it just HAD to be designed by something...

    I’ve always had trouble understanding the premise of Intelligent design. This may stem from a differing epistemological approach. I believe the best way to understand a process is to work toward assembling an informational view point beyond any prior anthropomorphic constraints, whether they be Neo-Darwinist that is skewed toward the social aspect, or Intelligent design that emerges from the religious creationist view point.


    The irony in this is that I do believe natural forces inherent in the universe contain I higher purpose for us, and I’ll even venture to say we are entering an evolutionary phase were we are going to actually tap into this information, beyond any present scientific intelligentsia or religious view point.

    I believe, from what I am seeing around me, and comparing this to emergent systems of the past, we are entering an evolutionary event that will not rely on any sort of prior plan of science, or institution of any kind, but will occur as a natural Tao, or way, inherent in information itself.

    This is why I believe water is the perfect medium for life. It is the perfect unbiased medium for the flow of information.
    Light, sound, chemistry, all move freely and unencumbered within water.
    It is natures way to free itself.



    Water is a Lovely Thing

    Water is a lovely thing—
    Dark and ripply in a spring,
    Dark and quiet in a pool,
    In a puddle brown and cool;
    In the river blue and gray,
    In a raindrop silver gray,
    In a fountain crystal bright;
    In a pitcher frosty cold,
    In a bubble pink and gold;
    In a happy summer sea
    Just as green as green can be;
    In a rainbow far unfurled,
    Every color in the world;
    All the year from spring to spring,
    Water is a lovely thing.

    Julia W. Wolfe
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metatron
    [This is why I believe water is the perfect medium for life. It is the perfect unbiased medium for the flow of information.
    Light, sound, chemistry, all move freely and unencumbered within water.
    It is natures way to free itself.
    How does this differ than other liquids?

    let's examine the statements: Light moves freely..It is the perfect unbiased medium for the flow of information.
    Water absorbs microwave and infrared wavelengths strongly, and sub-200nm wavelengths. Water also scatters light quite well, with the amount of scattering varying with wavelength. All of these factors impede the flow of information. This is why we cannot transmit information through lasers or other optical means through water very effectively.

    Chemistry moves freely..It is the perfect unbiased medium for the flow of information.
    Water, being polar and H-bonding, forms hydration spheres around other polar molecules. These hydration spheres change the chemical mechanisms that are possible, for example the formation and reactions of enols. So polar molecules don't move "freely".
    Non-polar molecules are insoluble. So they don't move at all.
    Water is quite viscous compared to other liquids such as alkanes for example. Viscosity impedes free motion.
    Free motion is limited by the mean path length before a molecular collision (which gives rise to diffusion). This is not free movement.
    Water causes groups of molecules suspended in water (colloids and aggregates) have a difficult times interacting with one other due to mutual repulsion caused by induced surface charges (zeta potential effect). This impedes free motion. I do suggest if you want free motion of chemistry, a hard vacuum would be best, not water.

    Sound moves freely..It is the perfect unbiased medium for the flow of information
    If this was true, we would transmit information through pipes filled with water, instead of radio waves, or through fiber optics, or copper wires, or vocal transmission through air.
    Truth is, water isn't that bad at transmitting sound, as it is rather dense compared to many other liquids. But far denser liquids would work much better, such as CBr4. How does tranmission of sound make water unique, compared to solids for example (which are much better than liquids), or for example, water compared to other possible liquids?
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metatron
    Light, sound, chemistry, all move freely and unencumbered within water.
    As someone who has to take great pains to keep any trace of water out of my chemical reactions, I'm afraid that's not very true...
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Metatron
    Light, sound, chemistry, all move freely and unencumbered within water.
    As someone who has to take great pains to keep any trace of water out of my chemical reactions, I'm afraid that's not very true...

    Why is water the perfect medium for life?

    Just a reminder.
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    silylene wrote;
    I do suggest if you want free motion of chemistry, a hard vacuum would be best, not water.
    Again, a reminder the thread is about;
    Why is water the perfect medium for *life*

    Life cannot survive in a vacuum

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    silylene wrote;

    Sound moves freely..It is the perfect unbiased medium for the flow of information
    If this was true, we would transmit information through pipes filled with water, instead of radio waves, or through fiber optics, or copper wires, or vocal transmission through air.
    Truth is, water isn't that bad at transmitting sound, as it is rather dense compared to many other liquids. But far denser liquids would work much better, such as CBr4. How does tranmission of sound make water unique, compared to solids for example (which are much better than liquids), or for example, water compared to other possible liquids?

    Why is water the perfect medium for life? Not technology.
    Hello :wink:


    Whale Songs
    Water allows sounds to travel much better than in air. Whales use the sounds they produce to communicate with other whales and to locate things in the water. Whales also hear very well. The Whales send out numerous high pitched sounds which travel through the water and then bounce off objects. The object might be a school of fish, another large sea creature, large rocks or even the ocean floor. The echo of the sounds the whale produces travel back to the whale. The whale can tell how far away the object is by the amount of time it takes for the echo to travel back to them. This is called echolocation.
    http://www.richmond.edu/~kjoyce/Whales/LessonPlans/WhaleSongs.HTML

    Some believe a whale can at any time be spatially aware of an entire ocean basin though its sense of hearing
    . :wink:
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomoUniversalis
    All in all, water is such a remarkable compound that if it did not exist someone would have to invent it.
    There is no reason to suppose that there 'where' (language fails to describe an event that is not bound to the current reference point) no similar occurences as the forming of the universe 'next'/'aside' to our own, where the compound water did not exist in its shape, and where life was thus not expressed. Like our own existence is an amazing amount of chance (your ancestors where all lucky enough to survive the various diseases, wars et cetera that flowed around the world before having children.), why would our universe, and the expression of life therein be not similary chance-oriented?

    When we view the tiger, we can awe at its perfect role in nature as something that is supernatural, but we can also consider that had it not been so perfect, it would have died after two generations. Things seem perfect, because they are perfect, because if they were not perfect, they would have died. Natural selection does not need scientific basis. It follows from rational thought.

    Mr U

    Simply, if Intelligent design or neo-Darwinism can produce models that produce information then its science.

    If it is just an explanation that does not produce information its just a belief system which is what most of Intelligent design is just a belief system, and also to be fair some parts of Darwinism i.e. origin of the phyla

    What’s more if there is an intelligent agent out their, which I believe there is, its called nature. The sum total of all laws that make up the universe.


    The question we should be asking is not whether something is out there designing the components of life, which is nothing more than reductionism gone around the bend, but what are the cooperative patterns of these parts that make life systems work. Once we know that, we have some useful information.

    What I think is of importance is to see that living systems evolve by drawing information from their parent matrix….. nature, so it stands to reason that a scientific model should follow this pattern.
    A scientific model should draw information from the world around us.




    Holland is perhaps the foremost authority on the mathematics of self-organization and emergence. He warned against teleology. Different organisms do not evolve along convergent lines in order to attain the same end-point. Evolution is by chance.
    Convergence refers to the similarity of agents occupying similar niches. With some knowledge of the niche, we can say something of the form of the agent that will occupy it (Holland, 1995, p. 169).
    That is to say, given the air as an ecological niche, we can predict that many of the life-forms which colonize that niche will develop wings. Wings, therefore, are a pre-existing (predictable) principle.
    In a dynamic system a principle of organization is not a static form like a triangle. Rather it is a dynamic, an ordered way for energy to flow. The whirlpool orders the energy of a stream, the snake- form organizes sinuous movement, the wing-form organizes flight, and the camera-eye organizes light to form an image.
    The snake, the wing, the camera-eye, and many other examples of convergence prove that evolution fulfils pre-existing principles of organization. That the same possibilities are realized again and again at different times also proves that the total number of such principles is limited. Principles of organization are specific, unchanging, and limited in number.
    http://home.earthlink.net/~maxmcdowell/jap94web.html


    Understanding the intricacies of system science, non-linear dynamics and self-organization is a major shift and how we see the world.
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    Faced with criticism of flawed logic, empty reasoning and no data, you retreated to restating the initial question which is the thread title:

    Quote Originally Posted by Metatron
    Again, a reminder the thread is about;
    Why is water the perfect medium for *life*
    Perfect! Let me emphasize that the thread title is a question:
    Why is water the perfect medium for life?
    So the question is WHY ?

    Initially you posed your reasons to answer that question:
    Quote Originally Posted by Metatron
    water was the perfect medium because light sound chemistry and information flow 'unencumbered'.
    Your arguments of "why" were shown to be highly flawed in the earlier posts. So please either defend your answer to "why", or withdraw your answer because it was wrong.
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  17. #16  
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    The question itself may be flawed; water may be the perfect medium for life because the life developed in an environment in which water was abundant.

    Could complex life-forms develop that are not water-based?
    Why do they want us to believe Conspiracy Theories?
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  18. #17  
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    I think there is a very large maybe associated with that possibility. The properties of water are so remarkable, and it is so ubiquitous, that it is difficult to envisage life withou it. Every alternative that has been considered simply lacks the versatility of water.
    Now I grant you that my inability to imagine a viable alternative is hardly a convincing argument against a viable alternative - but it works for me. :wink:
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metatron
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Metatron
    Light, sound, chemistry, all move freely and unencumbered within water.
    As someone who has to take great pains to keep any trace of water out of my chemical reactions, I'm afraid that's not very true...

    Why is water the perfect medium for life?

    Just a reminder.
    Water seems to be the perfect medium for the chemistry of life because there is a lot of water on earth, so of course it would seem like the perfect medium for life that evolved on earth. There is all sorts of chemistry that could potentially support life that can’t occur in the presence of water. If life were to evolve on some other planet that was covered with formaldehyde, water would probably be as dangerous to their life chemistry as formaldehyde is to our chemistry.

    That being said, I think water is believed to be a lot more common in the universe than other chemicals that might be able to support life.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I think there is a very large maybe associated with that possibility. The properties of water are so remarkable, and it is so ubiquitous, that it is difficult to envisage life withou it. Every alternative that has been considered simply lacks the versatility of water.
    Now I grant you that my inability to imagine a viable alternative is hardly a convincing argument against a viable alternative - but it works for me. :wink:
    I mention the point because, as a scientist, I believe scientists should always struggle to identify and challenge any unproven underlying assumptions; I find that many are surprisingly bad at this, although better than non-scientists.

    I suspect that water is the defining requirement for life, but that is as a gardener, not a chemist.
    Why do they want us to believe Conspiracy Theories?
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