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Water’s unique sense of time

water molecules probed/Yuki Nagata / MPI-P

From ScienceDaily:

Using innovative ultrafast vibrational spectroscopies, the researchers show why liquid water is unique when compared to most other molecular liquids.

(Actually, usage note: To be unique, water must survive comparison with all other molecular liquids. But let’s get on with the story.)

Water is a very special liquid with extremely fast dynamics. Water molecules wiggle and jiggle on sub-picosecond timescales, which make them undistinguishable on this timescale. While the existence of very short-lived local structures — e.g. two water molecules that are very close to one another, or are very far apart from each other — is known to occur, it was commonly believed that they lose the memory of their local structure within less than 0.1 picoseconds.

The scientists found that the vibrations live much longer (up to about 1 ps) for water molecules with a large separation, than for those that are very close (down to 0.2 ps). In other words, the weakly bound water molecules remain weakly bound for a remarkably long time.More.

Amazing, these accidental freaks of nature.

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