Water, a Matrix of Life, 2nd Ed

Felix Franks

While Philip Ball's "Life's Matrix" book was directed to the general audience, this is a technical treatise directed more at the level of the professional scientists. It presumes an acquaintance with quantum mechanics and discusses details that can be fully appreciated only by chemists and biologists. Nevertheless, there is a lot of information and data about water and its role in life that will be helpful to me.

From an article in the Jewish Quarterly: "Felix Franks was born in 1926 in Berlin and emigrated to the UK shortly after his Bar Mitzvah, held in a burnt-out synagogue and conducted by a young rabbi who had just been released from a concentration camp. After serving in the British Army, he studied Physical Sciences at the University of London and got married. He made a career in both industry and academia, teaching Biophysics at universities in the USA, UK and Canada. His extensive research on water has led him to become known in the scientific community as 'Water Franks'." The article is part of his story about leaving Nazi Germany as a boy and growing up in Britian - then returning to Germany as part of the British military.

Chapter 1 Origin and Distribution of Water in the Ecosphere: Water and Prehistoric Life

p1 "Water is the only inorganic liquid that occurs naturally on earth." He comments that it is the only chemical compound that occurs in all three states on the earth.

p2 A good summary of numbers for water in atmosphere. Need to add that to HyperPhysics. Review all of page 2 for hph.

p3 Diagram of hydrologic cycle which might help with a quantitative diagram

p4 Distribution of water. Compare with hph.

p5 Paragraph 2, the elements of life.

p5 Very abbreviated comment on the oxygen challenge to life. Comment on the ancient atmosphere's composition. Ball does a better job here.

p6 Diagram of molecular oxygen growth in atmosphere. Discussion of photosynthetic production of O2 and where it goes.

p6 Discussion of aerobic and anaerobic early life.

p7 Warm ocean currents as vast heat exchangers. Gives representative data for the Gulf Stream. I cited this in HyperPhysics on anomalously high heat capacity of water page.

Chapter 2 Structure of the Water Molecule and the Nature of the Hydrogen Bond in Water

p10 Sketches of electron density

p11 Bjerrum tetrahedral model of water molecule. Van der Waals diameter 0.282nm, same as neon which has the same number of electrons. He says "isoelectronic". Neon is 1s22s22p. Interesting comments on the usefulness of this model.

p12 Rather technical discussion of modeling the water dimer, uses "coordination number" n which is not defined. But n=4->4.4 upon melting says that water contracts relative to ice. But n=12->11 upon melting says that argon expands, the more typical situation.

p13-14 More of a technical discussion of IR frequencies and modes of vibration for water molecule.

Chapter 3 Physical Properties of Liquid Water

p16-17 PVT diagrams

p17 The fact that the water-ice phase change energy (~80cal/gm) is only 15% of the water-steam phase change energy (540 cal/gm) "suggests that liquid water retains much of the order of the solid state and that this order is only destroyed at the boiling point." Look at this page carefully to make sure I have covered all this in hph.

p18 Table of liquid properties

p19 Isotopic composition

p20 Thermodynamic properties. Different temperature for the maxima of different properties.

p22 3.98°C for maximum density at 1 atmosphere.

p23 Graph of volume as a function of temperature

p25 Raman spectra of water vibrations

p26-29 Detailed measurement of properties.

p29-31 Bulk transport properties.

p31 Graph of viscosity. Near freezing point there is a minimum of viscosity vs pressure. Curious. Related to changing slipperiness of wet ice?

Chapter 4 Crystalline Water

p32 Antarctica contains 99.997% of the fresh water on the planet.

p33 Fig 4.1 Growth habits of ice crystals

p34 Fig 4.2 Conditions favoring snow

p35 Fig 4.3 Diagram of ice structure. Ice at 80°C and higher under high pressure.

p35-37 Ice forms

p39 Cathrates - balllike structures

Chapter 5 The Structure of Liquid Water

p41 Diffraction studies

p45 Pair correlation data

p46 Water molecule geometry from neutron diffraction.

p50 Discussion of some of the mysteries

p51-52 More about progress and remaining uncertainties

Chapter 6 Aqueous Solutions of 'Simple' Molecules

p53-55 Framework of solute-solute and solute-solvent contributions.

p60 Hydrophobic hydration

Chapter 7 Aqueous Solutions of Electrolytes

Chapter 8 Aqueous Solutions of Polar Molecules

p88 Polyhydroxyl compounds (PHCs) - biological applications

p105 Hydrophobic/Hydrophilic competition

Chapter 9 Chemical Reactions in Aqueous Solutions

p108 Solvent

p109 Self-ionization

p112 Ionization reactions

Chapter 10 Hydration and the Molecules of Life

p118 Brief introduction to water's role with the molecules of life

p119 Points main emphasis toward proteins

p120 List of questions

p132-133 Diagrams of water-DNA interactions

Chapter 11 Water in the Chemistry and Physics of Life

p142 Most of the history of life is in water. Life on land only 400My, and still will start life in an aqueous environment.

p142 Notes that the transition to land required major changes to maintain a correct water balance. Water management is a major issue for all of life.

p143 Brief discussion of water's role in photosynthesis and its path to ATP.

p144 The citric acid cycle, mitochondria and ATP. He fusses at educators for being sloppy about making clear the role of water in the reactions. The bottom paragraph on water balance for the body is interesting.Water turnover 2.5kg daily, 300 gm produced as product of metabolism,

p145 Details of a simplified glucose oxidation reaction to produce ATP and water. Then points to real in vivo process which involves many more water molecules.

p146 The reactions above are so finely balanced that substitution of D for H disrupts it! "Heavy water is thus toxic to all higher forms of life." Remarkable!

p146 Paragraph 2. Details of O2 required for making 300 gm of water. Diagram 11.1. Review carefully for hph. Quantitative overview of production of the 300 gm of water. Make diagram for hph with body outline.

p147 Numbers for plant conversion of CO2 into carbohydrates. Review carefully. Splitting of water in photosynthesis. Fine balance of N and CO2.

p147 List of the properties of water that have influenced the development of life.

p148 Two density anomalies for water:

  1. Non-monotonic temperature dependence, maximum density at 4°C.
  2. Decrease in density with freezing.

Seawater temperature for maximum density is below the freezing point, so the coldest seawater is the deepest.

p148 Data on stability of plants in terms of Young's modulus. Buoyancy of marine animals. Swim bladder operation.

p149 Discussion of blood pressure. Discussion of osmotic pressure's role in getting water to treetops.

p150 Discussion of pressure in xylem of plants - check this out more carefully. Makes some claims I can't justify.

p150 Plants up to about 74cm high can supply themselves with water by capillary action.

p150 Says 5nm effective tube size which would give maximum capillary height of 3.4km, but cohesive strength of water limits to about 280m, whichis still twice the height of any tree.

p150-151 Sea creatures must drink sea water and excrete salt to maintain correct osmotic pressure - special cells in gills.

p151 Points to the major problem of salinization and the need for study of salt tolerant plants - but not as thorough as Ball's treatment.

Chapter 12 'Unstable' Water

p152 Liquid water can exist from -41°C to about 280°C, and all the way down to 0K if vitrified.

p153 (Lowest temperature with undercooling)/(Equilibrium freezing point) ~0.80+/-0.05

p153 Diagram 12.1 Molar heat capacity vs temperature

p154-155 Gets beyond me, but some new ideas to consider. "Ice and undercooled water have dramatically different physical properties." Even more dramatic for ions such as H and Li+ in water vs ice. Table 12.1

p155 Free energy discussion

p156 Critical clusters in undercooled water. Table 12.2

p156-158 More detail on undercooled water - more than I can take in.

p159 Nucleation of ice by particulate matter.

p159 Most interesting example is that of the Lobelia telekii plant which grows on Mount Kenya where its temperature cycles daily between 10°C and -10°C . Something about its surface catalyzes the formation of ice crystals, which in forming help suppress the excessive undercooling of the plant's critical internal fluids. The catalyst, a kind of polysaccharide, has been isolated in vitro. Fig 12.4 shows data for this.

The discussions in the chapter relate to some interesting ideas, like the critical nature of drop formation in upper atmosphere, comparison to nucleation by particles which might relate to seeding clouds, nucleation points for crystal formation in undercooled water, but I couldn't get my head around all of it.

p161 Glassy water is possible, but if cooling is rapid, ice crystals will usually form. Discusses fast cooling experiments such as spraying aerosol water on cold copper plates.

p Discusses amorphous solid water

p Superheated water as pure droplets in immiscible oil to 552.7K - eventual boiling is explosive.

Chapter 13 Supersaturated and Solid Aqueous Solutions

p163 You can mix H and O gases and get a stable mixture, but if you add MnO2 they react explosively to form water.

p164-5 NaCl solutions increase concentration with cooling Fig 13.1, 13.2

p166-7 Sucrose-water solutions, Fig 13.3

p168-176 too detailed and specific for me to follow

p177-179 Implications for drying processes - the science of drying

p179- 186 Natural freezing and drought resistance and other implications for plants

Chapter 14 Water Availability, Usage and Quality

p187 Water availability. Says that earth's water resources are recycled 37 times annually. All precip would cover globe to 0.5m if uniform.

p188 70% of rainfall evaporates, 30% runoff - total amount recycled is only 0.003% of total freshwater

p188 Oceans eventually receive 90% of total runoff. Less than 3% of world's available freshwater is in streams and lakes.

p189 Underground water flow 33-40% of total runoff.

p189 80% of present supplies are drawn from surface sources, but 5 states including Arkansas get over half from groundwater.Eight others 25-50%.

p189 Semi-arid agricultural countries such as India (>90%) get majority of water from groundwater.

p189-190 India discussion

p191-193 Water management programs

p193-196 Water enhancement by climate modification

p196-202 Water quality and pollutants

p204-206 Pure water in medicine and industry

Chapter 15 Economics and Politics

p207-209 Economics of water consumption and list of measures for ensuring adequate supply.

p211 Future outlook

Chapter 16 Summary and Prognosis



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