New research shows that in extreme conditions, liquid water splits into two different-density types, essentially boiling down to two kinds of water.
Water seems simple enough. It’s a clear liquid that we drink liters of every day. It’s in our oceans and rivers, in our food and beverages, and even in the air we breathe. We should have it completely figured out by now, right?
Wrong. Water is actually incredibly complicated, and scientists are only beginning to understand everything about it. For instance, a group of scientists from Stockholm University recently published a study demonstrating that there are actually two different kinds of liquid water.
Scientists have speculated there might be more than one kind of liquid water. After all, there are well over a dozen different kinds of ice. Most of these different types of ice exist at extreme temperatures and pressures, but a few exist at nearly room temperature.
One of the more interesting types of ice is amorphous ice. Normal ice is a crystal, but amorphous ice is not. Visually, it looks more like some type of rock than an ice cube. Amorphous ice is formed by very quickly cooling liquid water down to around -200 degrees Fahrenheit. Amorphous ice comes in two main varieties: high density and low density. At the right temperatures and pressures, amorphous ice can transform between the two varieties pretty much instantaneously.
The Stockholm scientists asked whether it remains true if the ice was melted. It turns out, it is.
At that temperature, liquid water melted from amorphous ice comes in two different types: high density and low density. These two different types of water can mix together, which is why the two separate types were so hard to discover. The researchers making the discovery had to use X-rays to measure the distances between individual molecules.
This discovery tells that there are two kinds of water us more about the vital substance we spend all our lives around. It also illustrates how much more we have to learn.
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.