Two atoms of hydrogen with one atom of oxygen. This all sounds so simple, yet the actual nature of water is still a mystery to scientists.
Over the last few years there has been much experimentation with the effects of an electrical field on water. If you take two containers of water and expose the water to a high voltage electrical field, the water from each container will actually climb out and the two will join to form a water bridge. This water bridge will stay intact as the two containers are moved further apart up to about 25mm.
Now how does this water bridge work and why would water behave like this? Well this is what seems to be baffling scientists at the moment. It seems that the structure of the water bridge is caused by an ordering of the water molecules due to the electrostatic charge. However, this is speculation.
This strange phenomenon was in fact discover by Elmar Fuchs and his colleagues at the Graz university of technology in Austria. They discovered that the water was actually traveling from the container containing the anode to the container containing the cathode. thus the electrostatic charge was forming the molecules into an ordered and fairly stable structure.
Now let us take a look at the structure of the water molecule itself. The bonds that join the two hydrogen atoms to the single oxygen atom is very strong indeed. Now the molecule itself has a bend in it that forms an angle of about 107 degrees. One reason for this bend is the presence of two lone electrons that are highly negatively charged thus forcing themselves apart. This action thus pushes the two hydrogen atoms closer, as if being squeezed. The result is that you have a molecule that does appear “bent” yet the more important factor is that the molecule now has two distinct sides; the lone electron side and the hydrogen side. This creates a side that is more negative and a side that is more positive. Because of this the water molecule can form ordered structures as the hydrogen side is attracted to the electron side like two pieces from a jigsaw puzzle.
This ability to form an ordered structure in this way could be a key factor for the reasoning behind the water bridge. The electrostatic charge could well be expediting this property thus allowing the appearance of a water bridge to form. A simple molecule yet so full of mystery. The study into the nature of water bridges will keep scientists busy for some time and the study of the nature of water itself will keep them busy for a lifetime.
So the next time you fill that kettle or take a glass of water, just stop for a moment and behold one of the mysteries of the universe.