Why are the simple ideas the most powerful?

In our last post we defended the idea that a useful water model should be as simple as possible. Recent water models describe water as a heterogeneous mixture, thereby raising more questions than answers. In my search for simplicity, I found the model of Narten, Danford and Levy (developed in the sixties) that fundamentally changed my view on the water structure.

Their main idea couldn’t be easier. Narten, Danford and Levy assumed that liquid water just has the structure of ice.  As a matter of fact, the structure of ice is really remarkable. The hydrogen bonds structure the water molecules in a hexagonal crystal structure whose symmetries are visible in the shapes of snowflakes (see Fig. 1). Also special is that the ice structure is very open. The water molecules are sitting rather far away from each other allowing extra water molecules to sit in between them. In theory, there is room for one extra water molecule per 2 water molecules of the crystal structure. These extra water molec…

Why do even specialists struggle with the structure of water?

We already know that most people have wrong ideas about the structure of water (see last post). In this post we will show that even specialists have difficulties to make sense of the water structure. In spite of the many existing scientific models, none of them has been chosen to be the ultimate one. Is this a problem? How bad is it that our scientific knowledge still has some blind spots? It is not bad at all. Blind spots are a blessing, challenging researchers to tackle new problems. They are just a normal part of scientific evolution. There is a problem, though: nobody seems to be aware of the black hole around the water model.

Water is the most abundant molecule on the planet earth.  It plays a dominant role in our climate and the energy balance of our planet. It is essential for life and has an enormous impact on our health. It is one of the best solvants making a big variety of chemical reactions possible. Water is the burning product of hydrogen, the fuel of the future. It has

Why most people don't understand anything about water?

The answer to the question is a little embarrassing. In most science lessons a wrong model for liquid water is taught. So science itself is responsible for our bad understanding.

But let us first start with the good news. The scientific models for the water molecule, ice and water vapour are excellent and a good starting point for a better understanding of liquid water.  

The water molecule is the fundamental building block of water. It consists of two small hydrogen atoms bound to a 16-fold heavier oxygen atom. Water is nothing more than burned hydrogen.

The water molecule is electrically neutral but the center of positive and negative charges are located in different places. This fact gives the water molecule its most important property: it is a  polar molecule. The center of the negative charge is located more in the oxygen atom leaving the hydrogen atoms positively charged (Fig. 1). The polarity of the water molecule is large compared to other types of molecules. Therefore, water…