Friday, October 11, 2013

Water, water, everywhere!

When it comes to space exploration, nothing makes the news quite like the possibility of finding extra-terrestrial water. Just over a month ago,  a research team from Japan used the Subaru Telescope to observe the water-rich atmosphere of Gliese 1214 b, a planet 40 light years from Earth.

Why are we always searching for water in space? What does discovering water have to do with the possibility of discovering extra-terrestrial life? 

To begin answering these questions, we explored some of water's interesting properties through the following investigations:

Water's molecular structure: We made models of water molecules, noting how oxygen and the 2 hydrogens share electrons.

Water sticks to other water molecules and other stuff too: We observed the U-shaped water line in a graduated cylinder and the dome shaped water line, as you fill a cup just beyond the brim.

Water is strangely denser than its solid form, ice. 

Water's a great solvent: We saw how water dissolves marker ink and carries along its components through filter paper.

Finally we discussed why these properties are so important for life as we know it.

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