But what is this stuff we call water and know from grade-school science as H2O? It turns out that even scientists don't know everything about this most basic substance and it has some very strange properties. Livescience.com states:
- The solid form floats on the liquid form. This property also explains why water pipes will burst when they freeze - something opposite of nearly every other simple substance. Mercury thermometers, for instance, do not explode when the temperature drops below the freezing point of mercury.
- The temperatures at which water boils and freezes are both higher than other molecules of similar size.
- Water has a large heat capacity; it can take in a lot of heat without its temperature increasing very much. This makes it an especially good coolant for a car radiator, and it's the main reason temperatures are moderate for coastal communities - as the ocean is slow to cool down or warm up.
- The high surface tension of water - its tendency to fight being pulled apart - explains why it forms droplets and why it climbs up the sides of a straw. It may also play a part in how the water strider walks on water.