April 19, 2013

On the Nature of Water, ii & iii

On the Nature of Water, ii Atomic Level Order

The nature of water is a case study in like dissolves like. Water molecules have an affinity for other water molecules. There is such a thing as pure water – it comes in the form called distilled water. This is plain water, pure and simple – consisting of nothing but water and water. The distillation process involves changing the form of water from a liquid to a vapor and then removing the vapor phase into a separate glass container. The impurities are left behind. This water is so clean that it does not conduct electricity – the conductivity of distilled water is nearly zero.

This would not be very good drinking water. The idea that there are no ions dissolved in the water clears the decks of minerals – the healthy things that our bodies use as catalysts in their biological systems. The idea of reasonably inert cations and anions swimming in your drinking water is not likely to be an exciting thought – but the quantities are limited and serve to resupply your existing system – water flushing is a major requirement for open living systems. 
Water atoms align with each other whenever they are in solution. The degree of alignment is very temperature dependent, as the water slowly approaches the freezing state called ice – the atoms of water come into alignment, either in great bulk as sheets of ice, or in smaller form like snowflakes. Dr. Emoto's work demonstrating the beauty of photographed crystals at peace is a work of art within nature. Water appears to sense vibration at a level that generates novel nucleation – crystal form grows emergent from crystal form. But what is really happening at the micro-scale level of crystalline chemistry?
Water like to share the hydrogen atoms it owns with other water atoms. In a gathering of water, the oxygen atom is surrounded by four hydrogen atoms in a tetrahedral array. In a liquid – there is free movement and exchange and the individual atom always retains its own two home hydrogen atoms, and constantly has different visitors in the other two positions. Each adjacent hydrogen that is not self, brings an oxygen atom from the water atom that is self to another adjacent water molecule. To refresh – elements are pure substances that exist as atoms. Atoms combine into compounds in small whole number ratios. A molecule is a collection of bound together atoms that has a stable recurrent form. Iron is an element, rust is an iron compound, hemoglobin has iron atoms as part of a complex organic molecule.

What does organic mean? Despite what your grocers might suggest – all their produce is organic by the strict chemical definition. Organic chemistry involves combinations of the four elements hydrogen H, oxygen O, nitrogen N and carbon C, supplemented by sulfur S and phosphorus P. The carbon structures provide several backbone chains that have becomes keys to explaining all biochemical life – known as proteins, enzymes, fats and lipids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and many other forms. The jump between biochemistry and chemistry is mitigated by the presence of water as a form unto itself – we can liken it to the air that we breathe on a human scale. Everything small and living is all-contained by water.

Water is a solvent that aligns by nature of its polar character to form a hydration sphere around every different solubilized ion. Ionic compounds are solids that can generally be dissolved in water – the cations separate from the anions and each are surrounded by water molecules. The cations have a positive charge and attract the negative oxygen end of the water molecules, the anions have a negative charge (extra electrons) and attract the positive hydrogen end of the water molecule. 
The size and charge of the cations and anions determine how many water molecules appear in the cluster of waters that each ion carries as a hydration sphere. This serves in a buffering capacity – allowing ions to move freely about until the loss of water causes an attraction between the ion pairs. If done slow enough, one can grow crystals of a pure salt, simply by evaporating water to form a super-saturated solution and allowing it to cool about a center of nucleation.

Water is included in the crystal lattice in many cases – the chemical forms of these salts (ion pairs of balanced charge) are sold as hydrates. Chemicals that can pick up water from the air are called hygroscopic and should be stored in a dessicator. This is a closed system where a more hygroscopic molecule like P2O5 is allowed to take water slowly away from the other chemical – rendering it dry. Drierite is a commercial clay compound that serves the same function or those little packages of silica beads packed with electronics. Using dry chemicals in chemistry is very important, as the water can be involved in less than desired chemistry of organic syntheses. Water tends to get in the way – so drying is an important step of many chemical processes.

If you know where the water molecules are, you can figure out their role in what they are doing. Water is an essential ingredient in cooking – whether it be hydrating dried beans or the solvent for soups. Drinking water is different than drinking beverages containing water. I attempt to drink two glasses of water each day, in addition to the many cups of coffee and tea that are the functional drivers of my between-meal system. Seeing that the plumbing is working is a function of growing old – we can assume responsibility for our own medical status by tracking the flow of water through our systems – noticing color changes in urine as a function of concentration – the light color, the more flushing of the system. Vitamins and minerals tend to be water soluble and get conveyed to the organs where they are metabolized and restocked during the sleeping process, so to speak.

Thus ends the second lesson on he nature of water. Please feel free to ask questions about the concepts that may seem foreign – this is written as a primer for new students as well as old hands and should remain entertaining on several different levels. By dealing with the concepts of everything is a solvent with some water content, we can begin to create a think framework as a basis of thought – we are large sacks of water and the water itself creates the seeds of consciousness. All water is created equal, but the memory of water demonstrates that water in use has vastly different properties than water in bulk. I hope to investigate this thought next time.

Namaste' doc 040913

On the Nature of Water, iii Measurement in Water

First – a word from our sponsors. The Oregon Natural Resources Research Group is working diligently to form a new conception of everyday life, with the application of the scientific method of questioning everything we know, without assumption. ONRRI will work in tandem with the Organization for the Advancement of Knowledge to provide direct support to communities that are growing food on a local scale – in order to ease the transition from global scale back to local scale. OAK and ONRRI can be found on-line through NWETI.com – the Northwest Education and Training Institute. NWETI provides on-line classrooms to teachers and students who wish to prioritize learning by gaining common knowledge, as opposed to the current school system which illuminates relationships by sequestering information in the hands of a few.

Now back to water. Water does not live in a democracy – each water molecule is created equal, but undergoes a change of perspective that is completely different when bound to a biological system, rather than hanging out with his buddies in a bulk water system. Looking at the solution from he perspective of an individual water molecule, we will explore the nature of change in different environments to foster the idea of the ubiquity of possibilities of what change can bring.

As we discussed before, water bonded in water with other water molecules will have an average HOH bond angle of 109o and an oxygen-hydrogen bond length of roughly one point five angstrom units. 
The exact length is a measured average of many individual measurements and changes constantly with vibrations. The essential parameters of a water molecule are the HOH bond angle and the length of the two OH bonds. These bonds have a symmetric stretching mode – both hydrogen atoms far away from the oxygen together and near the oxygen together. There is also an asymmetric stretching mode, which has two identical pairs of possibility – left hydrogen near, right hydrogen far and left hydrogen far, right hydrogen near. These stretches produce characteristic frequencies in the Infrared Range (IR) of the electromagnetic spectrum. A Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) is an essential laboratory tool for qualitative analysis of chemical elements – very high on the current wish list for the ONRRI lab. FLIR is a flight oriented Infrared scanning technique used to orient airplanes.

When water is attracted to ions – it shifts the wavelength of the vibration of the water molecule. The whole idea of spectroscopy is to measure the changes in spectra at different wavelengths and correlate it to changes in the physical environment of the atoms involved. When the solution color is in the visible region of the spectrum, you can use a different type of spectrometer – the UV-Vis , ultraviolet/visible light spectrophotometer– in order to hone in on the wavelengths produced between 200 – 800 nanometers. Cary makes the workhorse instrument – the Spec 20, that is a fixture in every high school chemistry lab in the land. If the tools of chemistry sequestered at the schools could be made available for general use, then people could learn hands-on that chemistry is just a means of measurement.

So let's get back to our water solution and let's now populate the solution with ions. Since Dr. Lenny worked in a Nickel mine – let's use the Ni2+ ion as the example. Nickel weighs 60 amu and is a transition metal – number 28 in the periodic table. The periodic table is the collection of all elements placed into a categorical form that allows for the prediction of chemical behaviors based on composition. It is a basic tool for understanding the language – each element has a symbol, a number and a weight that make the calculations easier to handle. Chemistry involves a lot of simple calculations like addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. More complex math can be very useful – but is not really necessary to being able to collect the information. We will try to avoid all math in this series, but realize that the numbers do have meanings beyond the scope of this simplified vision of water.

Nickel ions form a green colored solution with six water molecules that have a square planar geometry. [Ni(H2O)6]2+ . The oxygen of each water are oriented toward the central nickel atom, four in a plane about the circumference of the nickel – then one on top and one on bottom. The hydrogen atoms are oriented outward from the center – with the oxygen of other water molecules in the solution towards the center and the hydrogen arrayed outward. Recall that the weight of the nickel ion is about the same as three water atoms. The hydration sphere of the hexa-aquo nickel complex depends on the temperature – but is likely five or six levels deep – each level fits more molecules around those connected – so we have a sphere that is nearly 500 amu when two deep – you can see where the actual weight of solvated ions adds up real quickly.

Nickel forms a red compound with dimethylglyoxime. The formula is known to be Ni(dmg)2. By adding the nickel containing solution to a dmg solution, we can quantitatively precipitate the nickel and know exactly how much we had in solution. We can also measure the concentration of a solution and correlate it with the peak maximum of the red color in a Cary spectrophotometer.

The term aqueous solution is used to designate a solution that is based in water. Free ions in solution always have counter-ions in that solution to balance the charge. Thus the nickel started as NiSO4 or NiCl2 and the reaction with diglyme is a substitution type reaction. There are many different metals that form cations in solution – the whole world of coordination chemistry is a study of these types of systems.

When you consider the forces of polarity on the micro-sphere scale – they appear to work the same way as the forces of polarity on the human scale. Like attracts like in the form of polar compounds like polar solvents – ionic compounds dissolve in aqueous solution. The concentration of the solution is a measure of the stuff dissolved in the water – this involves converting the chemicals into moles, such that each chemical has it's molecular weight factored into the chemistry equation.

Water does a lot more outside of the chemistry lab than it does inside the lab. In the next nature of water episode, we will explore the place where we find water. The differences between lakes and streams and oceans and rivers will be explored with a large grain of salt, in terms of what the water is composed with and how the water thinks of itself.

 Namaste' doc 04/11/13

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