Fine tuning Intelligent Design

Experiment makes fundamental asymmetry of water “glaringly clear”

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drop of water/José Manuel Suárez (CC)

At one time, it wathought that the mechanisms by which water transports the H+ and OH− ions were mirror images of each other, though in recent years, asymmetry was glimpsed:

A team of scientists has uncovered new molecular properties of water—a discovery of a phenomenon that had previously gone unnoticed.

Liquid water is known to be an excellent transporter of its own autoionization products; that is, the charged species obtained when a water molecule (H2O) is split into protons (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH−). This remarkable property of water makes it a critical component in emerging electrochemical energy production and storage technologies such as fuel cells; indeed, life itself would not be possible if water did not possess this characteristic.

Water is known to consist an intricate network of weak, directional interactions known as hydrogen bonds. For nearly a century, it was thought that the mechanisms by which water transports the H+ and OH− ions were mirror images of each other – identical in all ways except for directions of the hydrogen bonds involved in the process.

Current state-of-the-art theoretical models and computer simulations, however, predicted a fundamental asymmetry in these mechanisms. If correct, this asymmetry is something that could be exploited in different applications by tailoring a system to favor one ion over the other.

Experimental proof of the theoretical prediction has remained elusive because of the difficulty in directly observing the two ionic species. Different experiments have only provided glimpses of the predicted asymmetry.

A team of scientists at New York University, led by Professor Alexej Jerschow and including Emilia Silletta, an NYU postdoctoral fellow, and Mark Tuckerman, a professor of chemistry and mathematics at NYU, devised a novel experiment for nailing down this asymmetry. The experimental approach involved cooling water down to its so-called temperature of maximum density, where the asymmetry is expected to be most strongly manifest, thereby allowing it to be carefully detected.

By cooling water down to this temperature, the team employed nuclear magnetic resonance methods (the same type of approach is medically in magnetic resonance imaging) to show that the difference in lifetimes of the two ions reaches a maximum value (the greater the lifetime, the slower the transport). By accentuating the difference in lifetimes, the asymmetry became glaringly clear.

In addition, their results showed that molecules’ hopping behavior changed abruptly at this temperature. James DeVitt, “The Behavior of Water: Scientists Find New Properties of H2O” at New York University

Water is pretty unusual.

See also: Water can exist in two different liquid phases

A new piece found in the puzzle of water’s strange, life-enabling behavior

and

Michael Denton: Does water’s remarkable fitness for life point to design?

2 Replies to “Experiment makes fundamental asymmetry of water “glaringly clear”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Water is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a puzzle.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    Multiple ‘anomalous’ life enabling properties of water
    Excerpt: liquid water is so common-place in our everyday lives, it is often regarded as a ‘typical’ liquid. In reality, water is most atypical as a liquid, behaving as a quite different material at low temperatures to that when it is hot, with a division temperature of about 50 °C. It has often been stated (for example, [127]) that life depends on these anomalous properties of water. The anomalous macroscopic properties of water are derived from its microscopic structuring.
    http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/anmlies.html

    Water’s remarkable capabilities – December 2010 – Peer Reviewed
    Excerpt: 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.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....42211.html

    Water’s quantum weirdness makes life possible – October 2011
    Excerpt: WATER’S life-giving properties exist on a knife-edge. It turns out that life as we know it relies on a fortuitous, but incredibly delicate, balance of quantum forces.,,, 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. “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.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....sible.html

    Water Is ‘Designer Fluid’ That Helps Proteins Change Shape – 2008
    Excerpt: “When bound to proteins, water molecules participate in a carefully choreographed ballet that permits the proteins to fold into their functional, native states. This delicate dance is essential to life.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....113314.htm

    Scientists glimpse why life can’t happen without water – June 20, 2016
    Water molecules control protein motion, study finds
    Excerpt: Water molecules typically flow around each other at picosecond speeds, while proteins fold at nanosecond speeds–1,000 times slower. Previously, Zhong’s group demonstrated that water molecules slow down when they encounter a protein. Water molecules are still moving 100 times faster than a protein when they connect with it, however.
    In the new study, the researchers were able to determine that the water molecules directly touched the protein’s “side chains,” the portions of the protein molecule that bind and unbind with each other to enable folding and function. The researchers were also able to note the timing of movement in the molecules.
    Computer simulations at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) helped the researchers visualize what was going on: where the water moved a certain way, the protein folded nanoseconds later, as if the water molecules were nudging the protein into shape.
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160620160214.htm

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