All water is not equal.
The water we drink has possibly one of the best known chemical formulas: H2O.
But, did you know that your body contains another type of water: D2O? This is called ‘Heavy Water’ because the molecule ‘deuterium.’ contains an extra hydrogen atom and is therefore double the weight. It is estimated that our bodies contain about 5 grams of deuterium.
Within the context of The Explanation and Inventory of the Universe, I’m broaching this subject for two specific reasons. I myself had a very vague notion of ‘another form’ of water, and this has intrigued me for some time. I’d actually done a little looking around and didn’t come up with anything substantial until an article was brought to my attention by colleagues who are more focused on water. You can read this informative article here. It also broaches the age of water on Earth, which is another subject but poses other problems with tracing its real origin.
Other than the fact that most people are not aware of ‘heavy water’:
- They’re also not aware that a small percentage of their body contains deuterium (D2O)
- When scientists and journalists use the term ‘water’ in outer space, they do not necessarily make the distinction between H2O and D2O. For the general public they tend to simply use the general term ‘water’. This can lead to misconceptions and confusion, as we’ll see in the second part of this post.
Heavy water and biological processes
This small quantity of ‘heavy water’ is not harmful to our biological mechanism. However, at much higher quantities it begins to attack, instead of assist, certain biological functions. For instance, in a previous post I discussed mitosis cell reproduction and the role ‘spindles’ play. Well, excess heavy water begins to shut down this process and if levels reach 50% death ensues. Not a nice prospective, granted.
The outlook for plants and animals is similar. They survive and grow using H2O and are damaged by D2O.
We don’t really know what the purpose of this ‘heavy water’ is, either in life or in the environment, like the sea where it is not a great amount but does reach 156 parts per million.
Heavy water is not radioactive, but it is used in order to isolate uranium which IS radioactive and can be used for both peaceful and harmful purposes.
Heavy and normal water: four concepts about their origin
- Asteroids and meteorites were the vectors crashing water to Earth. Asteroids in particular and some meteorites have the same ratio of regular to heavy water we find on our globe. Nobody knows the role of each vector in deposing the water that covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. This theory, however, has the edge because it is felt that water was brought to Earth subsequent to its formation when it was still in a very hot state.
- The subterranean combination of chemicals caused water vapor to spew up and then condense into the water we know today.
- Water molecules were transported to our planet after adhering to particles of interstellar dust. This concept suggests that the land (dust) and water formed our planet simultaneously. This theory doesn’t hold a lot of water since some scientists estimate the particles that formed earth were too hot to have transported water that would not have ‘survived’ the trip.
- Recent findings have now rehabilitated the concept that comets, via collisions or dusting, as Earth passed through their tails, dropped off ice which melted into our present water supply. The problem was that until 2011 and findings related to a comet named Hartley 2, ice was found to have a different D2O/H2O composition than that found in oceans… the ratio had too much heavy water. The well known Halley’s Comet is in this category with twice as much D2O as in the oceans.
The bottom line is no one really knows the origin of water on planet Earth. This post won’t give you more information on this subject. Hopefully, though, it serves to qualify and put in proper perspective a lot of the information that circulates. If you want a correct worldview or ‘universeview’ such information must be taken into account.
Let me leave you with a thought for which your comments below are more than welcome. Considering the enigmatic origin of the huge quantity of water on Earth, and the incomprehensible heavy/normal water ratio, be it the salt or the fresh, how is it that we have an unchanging quantity and ratio stability in our water cycle, in other words, a fixed quantity of H2O and D2O both in our environment and our bodies? That we have perfectly functioning processes associated with seasons for the renewing of our fresh water supplies and similar salt water functions for the wellbeing of aquatic flora and fauna?
It all functions so coherently that we really don’t even give it much thought… until man comes along and deregulates it. Imagine that.
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