“The voice of water – What is water?”

A waterfall symbolizing the essence of water - an aquatic anthem.

“The voice of water – What is water?”

To give water a voice, I, Marja Nieuwveld, write this column as a water ambassador. My goal is to raise awareness of this precious resource. When I followed the Rhine in 30 days last year – from its source to its mouth in Rotterdam – my great love for water unfolded. During this journey I learned so much about water that I would like to share my experiences and insights with you. 

I will start with the introductory question: What is water? As with anything, there are different views of water. The following common definition is well known: Water is “essentially” a transparent, largely colorless, odorless and tasteless liquid consisting of a hydrogen-oxygen compound, which freezes at 0 °C and boils at 100 °C. The addition of “primarily” is exciting. Is there anything else that goes with water?

Perhaps I will find an answer to this by exploring the different phases of water. Every child learns in school about the three phases of water: frozen, liquid and gaseous. But just by looking at them this way, I can’t find an answer to my question about what else water is made of. Fortunately, scientific knowledge is evolving. Professor G. Pollack of the University of Washington discovered a fourth phase of water a few years ago. It is called “structured” water. We also find this “new” phase in our bodies. It is gel-like and can be compared to the fluid in a cucumber. This phenomenal discovery holds great promise for our human challenges in energy, information processing and transportation. It demonstrates that water can generate and store energy, is an information carrier, and serves as a fuel itself.

Both hydrogen and oxygen are gases. It is already a miracle that the combination of these gases results in a liquid. But water has another fascinating side – that of constant change. Water is the basis of all life on earth. The proportion of water in our bodies should not be underestimated. In fact, when we talk about humans, we mean “body of water.” So what is water?

My insight: water is life – we are water!

Marja Nieuwveld, water ambassador


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