Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
Find science on or your birthday

Stories About Chemistry


15.  So Simple And Yet So Wonderful

   Before the war there was a merry comedy on at the movies, called "Volga, Volga." In it a blithe water carrier sings as he whips up his lazy horses: "For water's needed everywhere: Without't you're neither here nor there . . ." The song was a great success and has now even become proverbial. But this simple ditty holds profound implications.

   For water really is substance No. 1 in life. H2O. One atom of oxygen plus two atoms of hydrogen. Probably one of the first chemical formulas you ever learn. Now try to imagine what would become of our planet if the water suddenly disappeared from it. Dismal yawning "cavities" of sea and ocean hollows covered with a thick layer of the salt once dissolved in the water. Dry river channels, springs which will never bubble again. Rocks disintegrated to ash: water was one of their main constituents. Neither bush nor flower, not a living thing on the dead Earth. And above it a cloudless sky of a horrifying unusual colour.

   So simple a compound, and yet where there is no water, no life, intelligent or unintelligent, is possible. Why? First of all because water is the most remarkable chemical compound in the world.

   When Celsius invented his thermometer, he based his device on two values, or two constants: the boiling point and the freezing point of water. He took the former as equal to 100°, and the second to zero. Then he divided the interval between them into 100 divisions. Thus appeared the first instrument for measuring temperatures.

who invites your feedback

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.