In “Water’s quantum weirdness makes life possible” ( New Scientist, 25 October 2011), Lisa Grossman reports:
Salmon and colleagues shot beams of neutrons at different versions of water, and studied the way they bounced off the atoms – a precise way to measure bond lengths. They also substituted heavier oxygen atoms into both heavy and normal water, which allowed them to determine which bonds they were measuring.
They found that the hydrogen-oxygen bonds were slightly longer than the deuterium-oxygen ones, which is what you would expect if quantum uncertainty was affecting water’s structure (Physical Review Letters, DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.107.145501). “No one has ever really measured that before,” says Benmore.
We are used to the idea that the cosmos’s physical constants are fine-tuned for life. Now it seems water’s quantum forces can be added to this “just right” list.