Strange, Counter-intuitive Properties of Water, Explained

Written by John Dyer

Now scientists in Sweden have learned that water’s counter-intuitive behavior stems from its uncanny ability to exist in two liquid states. Writing in the journal Science, they explained how sophisticated sensors helped them shed light on mysteries that researchers have spent more than a century trying to unravel.

They hope their work could eventually explain how water helped spark the creation of life.

“Water behaves very strangely compare to other liquids. We should be very grateful for it. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t exist,” Anders Nilsson, a study co-author and professor of chemical physics at Stockholm University, told Seeker. “Life couldn’t live without those properties because the bottom of the ocean would have frozen during the ice ages.”

Using mile-long, X-ray lasers in Japan and South Korea, Nilsson and his team were able to watch water molecules in millisecond-long clips as they transformed under increasingly colder temperatures.

It’s important to understand that ice freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit only when it contains impurities. Absolutely pure water, on the other hand, might not freeze despite sitting for years in subzero temperatures. In 2011, scientists discovered that water can remain a liquid until around minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Most people think water freezes at zero degrees Celsius but that is because you have crap in it,” said Nilsson.

Illustration showing fluctuations between regions of two different local structures (high density as red and low density liquid as blue) of water that depend on temperature. Maxima in the thermodynamic response and correlation functions are observed as a function of temperature, when the numbers of molecules in the two structures become equal, resulting in strong enhancement in the anomalous properties of water in the deeply supercooled regime. |Stockholm University

Comments (14)

  • Avatar

    James McGinn

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    “Now scientists in Sweden have learned that water’s counter-intuitive behavior stems from its uncanny ability to exist in two liquid states.”

    This statement is illogical. the ability to, “exist in two liquid states,” is itself an anomaly. (H2O has many anomalies.) The suggestion that one of its anomalies explains the rest is nonsense.

    I know the source of H2O’s anomalies. All of H2O’s anomalies are a consequence of the fact that H bonds alleviate (counteract) the asymmetry that underlies polarity. Specifically, each H bond nullifies 25% of the polarity of both of the H2O molecules that participate in the bond. To understand this one must have an understanding of quantum mechanical factor in regard to what is happening with the electron cloud on H2O’s atoms. The asymmetry that causes the electron clouds on the H2O molecules to be stretched is inherit to the structure of the H2O molecules. This is widely known. But this isn’t the whole story. And this is where researcher like Nilsson (Swedish team mentioned above) drop the ball and lose the game. Somehow these Phd professional researchers missed the fact that H bonds restore the symmetry. And since asymmetry is what causes polarity the restoration of symmetry neutralizes polarity. Thus H bonds neutralize the force–polarity–that caused them to form a bond.

    My guess is that Nilsson and many other researchers like him simply don’t have the expertise in quantum mechanics to realize the implications of the restoration of symmetry to the electron cloud. And that this is significant in that without this one is left scratching their heads as to why H2O behaves so strangely on the molecular level:

    Polarity is a consequence of the electron clouds on an H2O molecule’s atoms being stretched. And that stretch is alleviated by H bonds. Thus the force associated with H bonds is consumed by H bonds. This explains the submolecular basis of H2O’s anomalies.

    Nilsson will never make progress because he is too stubborn to realize the importance of quantum mechanics.

    Supercooled water involves the prevention of the flipping of the orientation of the H2O molecule at 39 F. If you can prevent that flip you will end up with supercooled water. (Methods for preventing the flip do involve having very pure H2O. But high rates of cooling are also very important, I suspect.

    Nillson won’t make the discovery because, 1) I have already made the discovery. and, 2) He is too stubborn to consider quantum mechanics and the electron cloud.

    What follows is the solution which I cut and pasted from this address:
    http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=16329&start=360
    According to the prevailing paradigm, molecular polarity can be explained by two things: 1) an imbalance of electronegativity between a molecule’s atoms; and, 2) idiosyncratic or lopsided arrangement of said electronegativity imbalances.

    According to this definition the H2O molecule is—and can only be—a polar molecule. There is no room in this definition for the possibility that the polarity of H2O can, under certain circumstances, be turned off or neutralized, as is being conjectured here. This is a problem! Our definition has boxed us in! How can we fix this definition so that it represents the true essence of H2O polarity?

    Well, I think we can fix our definition by recognizing that electronegativity differences between covalently attached atoms is, ultimately, tangential to whether or not a molecule can be labeled a polar molecule. More precisely, the true, fundamental essence of this aspect of H2O polarity has to do with whether or not electron clouds in a molecule’s atoms are stretched. Only if (and only to the degree that) the electron clouds are stretched is there any kind of separation between the positive charges of the nucleus and negative charges of its associated electron cloud. And it is this—the separation of positive and negative charges—that actually allows H2O molecules to be a dipole that is capable of producing the forces associated with polarity.

    Now here’s the problem. It appears—according to everything that has been stated and assumed up to this point—that hydrogen bonds cause the re-centering of the electron clouds in the atoms (or some of the atoms). And this appears to be the case for both of the 2 H2O molecules that are participating in a hydrogen bond, but in two different ways. The donor molecule (the one “donating” a hydrogen atom to the hydrogen bond) will have the electron cloud on its donating hydrogen atom re-centered—no stretch. And this all takes place simply as a consequence of the force that caused the stretching being directly counteracted.

    Title: Polarity neutralizing effect of an H bond on the associated hydrogen atom.
    Caption: The force that caused the stretching of the hydrogen atoms electron cloud is directly counteracted by a hydrogen bond.

    At one and the same time, the other H2O molecule that is participating in this same hydrogen bond—the one that is nominally the “acceptor” of the hydrogen from the adjoining molecule, will have the stretch in the electron cloud of its acceptor atom, its oxygen atom, alleviated. This is consequence of the restoration of tetrahedral symmetry. In other words, in addition to neutralizing the stretching of electron cloud of the donator molecules hydrogen atom, this same hydrogen bond will alleviate (actually, cut in half) the tetrahedral assymetry that caused the stretching of the electron cloud on the acceptor molecule’s oxygen atom.

    Title: Polarity neutralizing effect of an H bond on the associated oxygen atom.
    Caption: The tetrahedral asymmetry that caused the stretching of the oxygen atom’s electron cloud is alleviated by a hydrogen bond.

    And so, regardless of whether we are talking about hydrogen atoms or oxygen atoms, the net effect of hydrogen bonding is to counteract and alleviate the forces that caused the stretching of electron clouds. And since stretching of electron clouds is what causes polarity, this net effect includes the neutralization of a portion of the force—the H2O molecule’s polarity—that created the bond. (To be more precise, each hydrogen bond reduces 25% of each others maximum polarity. [])
    ([
    ] This assumes EMF equivalence between the H2O molecules oxygen atom and its hydrogen atoms that may not be fully valid.)

    According to this new model, most of the H2O that most normal people encounter on a day to day basis is highly bonded and, consequently, not very polar. Breaking of bonds activates polarity. Or, more concisely, breaking of hydrogen bonds removes forces that counteract and alleviate the H2O molecule’s inherit stretching of its own electron clouds.

    Our revised definition is that a molecule is a polar molecule if 1) the electron clouds of its atoms are off-center relative to the atom’s proton/neutron cluster (a stretched electron cloud) and, 2) if atoms associated with these stretched electron clouds are themselves oriented asymmetrically (ie. bent angle of H2O molecule).

    According to this new definition, a methane molecule would, still, not be considered a polar molecule because its covalently attached hydrogen bonds are oriented symmetrically (a perfect tetrahedron). And, so, even though the electron clouds on the methane molecule are somewhat stretched (slightly pulled in toward the carbon atom) it is not a polar molecule because the orientation of these four arms comprises a perfecty symmetrical tetrahedron.

    This definition also allows for singular or not-fully-bonded H2O molecules (singular molecules of gaseous H2O) to be considered polar molecules since they, firstly, have three atoms (2 hydrogen and 1 oxygen) possessing negatively charged electron clouds that are stretched off-center from their respective proton/neutron clusters and, secondly, these covalently attached hydrogen atoms are oriented asymmetrically (lopsided). So, a singular H2O molecule is a polar molecule because it has both stretched electron clouds in its atoms (all three, 2H and 1O) and these atoms are asymmetrically oriented. But we should remember that this form of H2O—genuine gaseous H2O[] is not part of our common experience. ([] Note, moist air in earth’s atmosphere does not contain gaseous H2O. It contains nanodroplets of liquid H2O.)

    According to this new definition, the form of H2O with which we are most familiar, highly bonded liquid and solid H2O, is considered nonpolar. Because, even though their covalently attached atoms are arranged asymmetrically, meeting the second of the two criteria, their negatively charged electron clouds are centered (not stretched) relative to their respective proton/neutron clusters—essentially their polarity has been turned off, neutralized by hydrogen bonding (as described above).

    So, what was the mistake? What was the wrong turn that the current paradigm took some eighty years ago? Well, they jumped to the conclusion that electronegativity differences are central when, in actuality, they are peripheral. In other words, they were mistaken not to refer directly to the underlying cause of H2O polarity—whether or not the electron clouds on its atoms are stretched off-center from their associated nucleus. And so, essentially, they were defeated by their own dogmatic adherence to a notion that is tangential to polarity. The possibility that the underlying cause of H2O polarity would be—or possibly could be—counteracted with hydrogen bonding was not even on their radar screen.

    James McGinnn / Solving Tornadoes

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    jerry krause

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    Hi John,

    “The density of pure water is 1000 kg/m3. Ocean water is more dense because of the salt in it. Density of ocean water at the sea surface is about 1027 kg/m3. There are two main factors that make ocean water more or less dense than about 1027 kg/m3: the temperature of the water and the salinity of the water. Ocean water gets more dense as temperature goes down. So, the colder the water, the more dense it is. Increasing salinity also increases the density of sea water.” (https://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Water/density.html)

    “The density of pure water is 1000 kg/m3” What is not written is that this is the density of water at 4oC and that as the temperature of pure water decreases its density decreases. James McGinn is correct that chemistry understand this because of the quantum mechanical model of atoms and the quantum mechanical model molecules as we put atoms together to form the water molecule. The quantum mechanical model of atoms gives atoms a geometric structure which the previous Bohr solar system model of the atom did not have. Which, if you have ever inspected a snow flake, you observe that water molecules must have a geometric structure. The snow flake is not a structureless blob.

    But the uniqueness of the water molecule in not only because of its geometric structure. Linus Pauling proposed that atoms have a ‘property’ which he termed—electronegativity. Which I crudely define as a desire to hold electrons tightly. The atoms with the greatest electronegativity (according to Pauling’s somewhat qualitative assignments) are fluorine, oxygen, and nitrogen. And when hydrogen atoms are bonded to one of these three atoms, the single electron of the hydrogen atom is pulled toward the electronegative atom leaving the nucleus (a single, positively charged, proton) of the hydrogen atom somewhat exposed to the outside world. But the atoms of fluorine, oxygen, and nitrogen all have 4 pairs of electrons (with negative charge) arranged in a geometric tetrahedral pattern. So the somewhat exposed proton of a bonded hydrogen atom and one of the unshared pair of electrons of the fluorine, oxygen or nitrogen atoms attract each other by a moderately strong interaction which Pauling and James term a hydrogen bond. Which is highly directional (one molecule must be precisely aligned with another molecule). This will become critically important when we begin to consider sea (salt) water.

    Now water molecules are unique because a water molecule (H2O) can form 4 hydrogen bonds with four other water molecules and therefore begin to form a 3-dimemsional cluster of molecules. Now, as more and more molecules cluster together they can ultimately form a specific cluster of 10 water molecules forms cage with no water molecule in the cage, which once formed is difficult to break apart.. Hence, this cage is less dense than any other cluster of hydrogen bonded water molecules, regardless of the number of molecules in the cluster.

    The formation of this specific cage is a matter of probability as the constant motion of the molecules due to its temperature continually knock apart hydrogen bonded molecules. And as John Dyer reports, highly purified water can be cooled far below the temperature at which ice melts, 0oC. Cooling the water below this temperature decrease the average speed of the molecules motion which increase the probability that this specific cluster will be formed.

    While I agree with James McGinn to the point that the article, about which Dyer reports, seems to be nonsense, I am unable to follow his further reasoning.

    There is a reason I introduced my comments as I did. It is: “So, the colder the water, the more dense it [ocean water] is.“ One does not commonly read this and when I first read it somewhere else I was surprised. So when Anders Nilsson ”a study co-author and professor of chemical physics at Stockholm University, told Seeker. “Life couldn’t live without those properties because the bottom of the ocean would have frozen during the ice ages.””, this idea had to be challenged.

    James referred to the polarity of the water molecule, it is an electric dipole (the oxygen atom partly negative and the two hydrogen atom partly positive) because it is a bent molecule. Sodium Chloride (NaCl) melts at 800oC. Yet water is able to readily dissolve it. Chemists understand this to be because the dipolar water molecule have a reasonably strong interaction with ions and we call the energy of the interaction a solvation energy. But this reasonably strong interaction destroys the precise molecular alignment needed for hydrogen bonding. So, relative to the relationship between density and temperature, sea (salt) water behaves as ‘normal’ liquids do.

    So here is another observed fact about which one does not commonly read. When sea water freezes, the ice is pure water and it floats on sea water even better than it floats on pure water because salt water has a greater density.

    Another important issue which is seldom discussed is: How (why) does the density of pure water begin to decrease as it is cooled below about 4oC? My answer is that as the number of water molecules in the hydrogen bonded clusters of molecules, the volume of the clusters (whose density is less than density of ‘free’ water molecules), increases. But until a completed 10 molecule cage is formed, no ice forms. Chemists are very familiar with what happens when a super-cooled liquid or super-saturated solution is ‘seeded’ with the tiniest solid particle which should exist if not for its ‘super’ (unstable) condition.

    This is some information about which mainly good chemists are only familiar.

    Have a good day, Jerry

  • Avatar

    James McGinn

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    Hi Jerry,

    Excellent comments.

    I am impressed that you have such a comprehensive grasp on polarity as it relates to QM.
    Pauling and Bohr made a huge mistake/omission and everybody else has been following blindly. Let me see if I can explain the error in the simplest manner possible. Firstly imagine a singular H molecule. Imagine its electron cloud perfectly encircling (encapsulating) its single proton nucleus. We could say that this electron cloud is perfectly symmetrical (nonpolar).

    Now imagine this same hydrogen atom with an oxygen molecule adjacent to it, touching. Now imagine the electron cloud on the hydrogen atom. Now it will be stretched in the direction of the oxygen molecule (due to the greater electronegativity of the oxygen atom). Now—because its electron cloud is stretched—we could say that the hydrogen atom is a polar atom.

    Lastly, let’s now imagine that a second oxygen atom is placed on the other side of the hydrogen atom (180 degrees around the circumference of the hydrgoen atom from the first oxygen). Now what happens to the electron cloud on the H atom? Well, the electronegativity of both of the oxygen atoms counteracts each other and, therefore, the electron cloud on the H atom goes back to center. Now this hydrogen atom is no longer a polar atom—it’s polarity has been neutralized!

    So, what is the huge error. The huge error was to assume that electronegativity differences cause polarity. Electron cloud stretching is what causes polarity—not electronegativity differences. And even though electronegativity differences can cause electron cloud stretching this effect can itself be counteracted, as I explained.
    (Note: the same exercise can be done for the electron cloud of the oxygen atom of an H2O molecule, but in this case it is the completion of the oxygen atom’s tetrahedron that alleviates stretching of its electron cloud.)

    With hydrogen bonding between water molecules each H bond alleviates electron cloud stretching in both of the atoms that take part in the bond (the oxygen on one H2O molecule and the hydrogen on the other H2O molecule). Also, each H bond alleviates 25% of the sum of electron cloud stretching in both of the molecules that take part in the bond. Thusly, any H2O molecule that shares 4 bonds with 4 other H2O molecules will have its polarity reduced to zero. (And this is really strange when you consider that polarity is the force that maintains the bonds.)

    (BTW, this explains why H2O appears to not conform to coulombs law in the liquid phase—its polarity is almost completely neutralized. Likewise, it explains why liquid water is so fluid. (Most people don’t know this, but one of H2O’s anomalies is its low viscosity as a liquid. This is the first of H2O’s many anomalies that can now be explained as a result of this conceptual breakthrough. Check this out:
    http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=16329&start=240#p122435 )

    All of the anomalies of H2O are a consequence of this conceptual error made by Bohr and Pauling over 80 years ago!

    Jerry: . . . the uniqueness of the water molecule in not only because of its geometric structure.
    JMcG: Well stated. Yes. It is also a consequence of tetrahedral asymmetry (associated with its oxygen atom).
    Jerry: the atoms of fluorine, oxygen, and nitrogen all have 4 pairs of electrons (with negative charge) arranged in a geometric tetrahedral pattern.
    JMcG: Free nitrogen, 1 pair; free oxygen 2 pair; free flourine 3 pair; neon; 4. (Of course, this assumes they are all ‘free’ [unbonded].)
    Thanks for mentioning the tetrahedron, because it is extremely important to how we envision H bonding.
    Jerry: While I agree with James McGinn to the point that the article, about which Dyer reports, seems to be nonsense, I am unable to follow his further reasoning.
    JMcG: Hopefully you can get it now. Remember, electronegativity differences don’t make a molecule or an atom polar. It’s only having a stretched electron cloud that makes them polar. And even though electronegativity differences can cause electron cloud stretching this effect can itself be counteracted. (And H bonding does counteract polarity in H2O!)
    Jerry: Sodium Chloride (NaCl) melts at 800oC. Yet water is able to readily dissolve it.
    JMcG: The small size of the hydrogen atom is instrumental in that it is able to get between the Na and the Cl.
    Regards,
    James McGinn / Solving Tornadoes
    H2O Surface tension explained:
    http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=16329&start=240#p122435

    • Avatar

      jerry krause

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      Hi James,

      First, take a look at my comment: https://principia-scientific.org/baldness-the-greenhouse-gas-theory/ Which I conclude with the statement: “The bottom line of science is we all, with our faults and rights, must work together to eliminate our faults as we gather together our rights.”

      For you conclude with the statement: “The small size of the hydrogen atom is instrumental in that it is able to get between the Na and the Cl.” We generally imagine that the nucleus (a proton with a positive electrical charge) of a hydrogen atom covalently bonded (stretched electron clouds) is ‘passed’ from one water molecule to another to form an hydroxide ion (an ion of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom having a negative electrical charge) and a hydronium ion (an ion of one oxygen atom with two hydrogen atoms and one proton with a positive electrical charge). And we commonly imagine that sodium chloride is an ionic compound composed of sodium ions with a positive electrical charge (an sodium atom which has transferred one of its electrons to a chlorine atom). Thereby creating a negatively charged chloride ion (an chlorine atom with an extra electron). So we imagine that these electrically charged ions are strongly attracted to each other because oppositely charged particles strongly attract each other as evidenced by the high melting point. But your concluding statement has no mention of ions or of the attraction between oppositely charged particles. So I am just checking what you actually imagine about sodium chloride.

      Have a good day, Jerry

      • Avatar

        jerry krause

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        Hi James,

        I had overlooked that you wrote: “Firstly imagine a singular H molecule. Imagine its electron cloud perfectly encircling (encapsulating) its single proton nucleus.” My comment to which I just referred to you was about sloppy terminology. There is no such thing as a singular H molecule. We, you and I, might know what you intended but those not familiar with the terminology of chemistry can only become (or be) confused by your statement. What I have just done might be called nit-picking but the publishers of Galileo classic book wrote to the readers that a common saying was: “intuitive knowledge keeps pace with accurate definition.”

        Have a good day, Jerry

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          James McGinn

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          That you are nitpicking (unnecessarily) is not the biggest fault in your response. You are completely ignoring my point. My point had to do with asymmetry being counteracted by H bonding AND THUS NEUTRALIZING POLARITY!!! How in the world did you not see that?

          (What I presented is a thought experiment. The fact that free H atoms don’t exist in nature IS IRRELEVANT!!!!)

          Jerry, it seems you are so caught up in showing everybody how much you know (which is fine in and of itself) that you aren’t paying attention to what I am saying.

          The supposition that H bonding neutralizes polarity IS A REVOLUTIONARY SUPPOSITION!!! I am, essentially, saying that Bohr and Pauling missed something huge.

          Read this carefully:
          Currently science recognizes upwards of 70 anomalies of H2O. In reality, there are no anomalies in nature. Thus the fact that we recognize upwards of 70 anomalies indicates that our theory of water (theory of H bonding between H2O molecules) is wrong. I am saying that I have found what is wrong with theory. I am saying that this wrong thing has to do with the fact that Bohr and Pauling screwed up when they failed to recognize that H bonds neutralize H2O polarity.

          I am saying that Bohr and Pauling made the conceptual error of failing to recognize that the cause of H2O polairty, asymmetry, is alleviated with H bonds. Thus H bonds neutralize H2O polarity!!! I am saying that this is a huge discovery!

          I am saying that I have found and fixed the theoretical error that underlies all of H2O’s anomalies!!!!

          You are so caught up in telling us what you know that this huge discovery is invisible to you.

          Pay attention!!!!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnfNRAmUynw

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xljSj0mbAQ4

          James McGinn / Solving Tornadoes

          • Avatar

            jerry krause

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            Hi James,

            I am merely replying to you to say I do not agree that Bohr and Pauling screwed up. But I am not sure what Bohr had to do with hydrogen bonding. Must have missed that history of chemistry.

            Have a good day, Jerry

          • Avatar

            James McGinn

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            Jerry:
            I do not agree that Bohr and Pauling screwed up.

            JMcG:
            LOL. You got nothing!!!

            Whether your agree or not is irrelevant. It’s of much greater significance that you can’t explain why you disagree.

            You were taught that water is simple and well understood and then you were trained to ignore all the evidence that indicates that it is neither. This training (brainwashing) has left you impotent on this subject, bringing you to be emotionally incapable of admitting that you could find no error in my model.

            Admit it, Jerry, you found nothing wrong in anything I’m saying.

            Tell me how I’m wrong, Jerry. Go ahead. Don’t evade my claim. If Pauling didn’t screw up than I must have. Right. Go ahead. Show me where I’m wrong–or admit that you can’t find anything.

            Pauling (and Bohr) and the many sheep that blindly followed (yourself included) failed to consider the QM implications of H bonding.

            The only thing stopping you from admitting I am right is your faith that established science can’t be wrong.

            Established science is wrong. I am right. H bonds neutralize H2O polarity. This is a huge discovery.

            You got nothing!!!

            In subsequent videos I will be resolving ALL of the (so called) anomalies of H2O.

            James McGinn / Solving Tornadoes

          • Avatar

            James McGinn

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            Address the issues I brought up, you evasive twit. The fallaciousness of the meteorological paradigm are semantic. So your belief that you can get to truth by following semantics is flawed. j

      • Avatar

        Rosco

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        Hi Jerry.

        You are too polite.

        I remember being instructed that there is no such thing as a naturally occurring H+ ion back in the dark ages when I studied Physical Chemistry – part of the study of chemistry (possibly) arbitrarily broken into Organic, Inorganic an Physical. (They were the dark ages because they didn’t acknowledge the 97% consensus science of CO2 induced global warming/climate catastrophe – actually the 97% consensus was an impending ice age at the time.)

        Anyway the H+ ion does not exist naturally – water dissociates to H3O+ and OH-.

        If there are no H ions in water – + or otherwise – it is difficult to imagine this statement ““The small size of the hydrogen atom is instrumental in that it is able to get between the Na and the Cl.” is anything more than arrant nonsense.

        Given that even boiling water does not break the bond between H and O in water it is difficult to assume the assertion made as quoted is anything but further evidence that James relies on his own infallibility rather than any actual science.

        You are absolutely correct according to the science I learnt (learned ?).

        • Avatar

          James McGinn

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          Rosco, I think you should make more effort to not be a troll. You are combining two statements that were separate and coming to your own simpleminded conclusion. I never stated that singular H atoms occur in nature. And that fact that an H atom is attached to an oxygen at the time it comes between the Na and the Cl does not contradict my assertion. Your strawman tactics are not appreciated.

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            Rosco

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            You always misquote people who disagree with you and you offer no shred of evidence for you assertions.

            You write stuff like this all the time –

            “Jerry:
            I do not agree that Bohr and Pauling screwed up.

            JMcG:
            LOL. You got nothing!!!

            AND you call me a troll ??

        • Avatar

          jerry krause

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          Hi Rosco,

          Maybe because you wrote: “I remember being instructed that there is no such thing as a naturally occurring H+ ion back in the dark ages when I studied Physical Chemistry.”, I was reminded of what, as a chemistry instructor, I stopped doing.

          I would almost bet money that in your physical chemistry course, the professor used an apparatus which had a light bulb to crudely test the electrical conductivity of water and certain solutions formed when white crystals, from a dinner table, were dissolved in the water which did not cause the light bulb to light when two electrodes were dipped into the water.

          But when these different white crystals, which could not be distinguished from one another, were dissolved, one solution caused the light bulb to light when the electrodes were dipped into it and the other solution did not. We could have tasted the indistinguishable white crystals to identify what they were as really old chemists did but it was concluded that it was not a healthy idea to randomly test unknown crystals by tasting them.

          Somewhere along my teaching career I know I stopped using the light bulb apparatus to demonstrate the difference between sugar and salt. What demonstrated a difference between ‘ionic’ bonds between the ions (electrically charged tiny particles) of ionic compounds and covalent bonds between atoms in ‘molecular’ compounds like sugar. However, many molecular compounds do not dissolve in water as sugar does. So we had to find a reason that sugar dissolved in water and oils did not.

          So evidently relative to molecular compound we conclude there was a class compounds which were termed carbohydrates (basically composed of carbon atoms and dissociated water molecules) and another class termed hydrocarbons (composed of carbon atoms and hydrogen atoms).

          As I look back and ponder why I stopped my demonstrations with the simple, inexpensive, light bulb apparatus, I must conclude that I had not yet really understood the very important (critical) things (fundamentals) of chemistry.

          Of course, there might be those who read this who might consider this totally unrelated to any topic rightly considered on PSI.

          Thank you for the conversation.

          Have a good day, Jerry

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        James McGinn

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        Well, I actually didn’t know the details that you explained here. And I don’t doubt that what you are saying is accurate. My understanding about the small size of H being instrumental in solubility is just something I saw on a TV show. (I am still not convinced that the small size is itself instrumental.)

        As I mentioned in another post, I don’t think you recognized the drama associated with my assertion that H bonds neutralize H2O polarity. This is a huge claim! But you don’t seem to be grasping its significance.

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