In school you learned all about a few basic concepts that prepared you for a lifetime of barely understanding the simplest things in this complicated world. It wasn't much, but it's all you have. And we're about to take that away from you. Don't think we're condescending. It turns out we don't understand a goddamn thing anymore either, and frankly, we are sick of it. Time to rage-quit this whole thinking business and get back to hitting things we don't understand with sticks. First up on the old stick-list is ...
(For all the experts know, gravity might as well be created by a Viking physics-god. Read our De-Textbook to find out why and own a sweet cartoon of said Asgardian.)
5 Water Is the Weirdest Substance on Earth
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What You Were Taught
It's the most basic and abundant compound you can think of, making up most of the world's surface and your body. Surely we've got water, if nothing else, pinned down.
We're especially good at turning it into pee.
But Really ...
Water doesn't behave like any other chemical. We've discussed before the various ways that you can make water do magic, and these things are possible only because water is a maverick that plays by its own rules. It would likely wear a sexy leather jacket, if we could get the bastard to stay in form long enough.
For example, a very simple principle of matter is that a liquid fills less volume when it freezes into a solid. That's because the molecules are closer together, which is why it gets hard (although strangely, ladies, if we get closer together and something gets hard, the volume only goes up). But water, unlike anything else, actually expands when it freezes, as you'll know if you've ever had a beer explode in the freezer after forgetting about it. This is why ice cubes float -- unlike any other substance, the frozen version is lighter and less dense than the liquid version.
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Much to the Titanic's dismay.
Why? Nobody knows. It's been a mystery to science ever since Science first graduated from Science School. There are complicated theories, but none of them are a slam dunk. In fact, despite the fact that water is the most ubiquitous substance, we know embarrassingly little about it. Why is ice slippery? Fuck if science knows that one either.
That's not where water's mysteries end, either. For some reason, hot water freezes faster than cold water. That is to say, if you take a glass of hot water and a glass of cold water and put them both in the freezer at the same time, the hot water will turn to ice before the cold water does. It's called the Mpemba effect, because it was discovered by a Tanzanian high school student named Erasto Mpemba in 1969. Actually, it was first discovered by Aristotle, but that guy was getting all the glory anyway, and Mpemba really needed a win.
Plus, Aristotle was notorious for making shit up.
Again, the reason for this is completely unknown. We're just going to have to assume that water is some kind of sorcery and hope that the warlocks in charge of it are not angered by the fact that we poop in their magic every day.