Tetrahedra may explain water’s uniqueness

Tetrahedra may explain water 's uniqueness
Scientists at The University of Tokyo use a two-state model based on the formation of tetrahedral structures to explain water’s anomalous properties and the surprising liquid-liquid transition of water Credit: Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo

Researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo sifted through experimental data to probe the possibility that supercooled water has a liquid-to-liquid phase transition between disordered and tetrahedrally structured forms. They found evidence of a critical point based on the cooperative formation of tetrahedra, and show its minor role in water’s anomalies. This work shows that water’s special qualities—which are essential for life—originate predominantly from the two-state feature.


Liquid water is indispensable for life as we know it, yet many of its properties do not conform with the way other fluids behave. Some of these anomalies, such as water’s maximum density at 4°C and its large heat capacity,

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Katahdin Woods and Waters to celebrate dark sky designation in virtual event

PATTEN, Maine — A new moon over Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on Oct. 15 will allow the darkest skies in the Northeastern United States to be absent of moonlight, making thousands of stars and the Milky Way galaxy visible to the naked eye.

To mark the occurrence, the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters organization will hold its seventh annual Stars Over Katahdin event, along with a new organization, Dark Sky Maine. It won’t be held at the monument as in years past, but will be virtual, meeting the same fate of other events during the time of COVID-19.

While moving the stargazing to online is a setback for something usually held around campfires, outdoors and away from internet reception, the event is also highlighted this year by Katahdin Woods and Waters being designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark Sky Association, or IDA.

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Global ocean waters could speed warming, become less suitable for life

The reduced up and down mixing is expected to have sweeping implications beyond just accelerating global warming. It is projected to increase energy available to hurricanes and other storms, reduce essential nutrients for fish in upper ocean layers and diminish the oceans’ ability to store carbon, among other impacts.

The study assesses how the separation of seawater layers, known as stratification, has changed based on new temperature, salinity and density data. It finds substantial shifts have occurred as the ocean has absorbed more heat in the upper 6,500 feet of water.

The study, from researchers in China as well as the United States, found stratification has increased by about 5.3 percent during the 1960 to 2018 period, for a rate of 0.9 percent per decade.

The way the ocean layers are separated is similar to a basic vinaigrette salad dressing, where lighter oil sits at the top, and more dense

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