Water Revisited

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Science  25 Jul 1980:
Vol. 209, Issue 4455, pp. 451-457
DOI: 10.1126/science.209.4455.451


Liquid water consists of a macroscopically connected, random network of hydrogen bonds, with frequent strained and broken bonds, that is continually undergoing topological reformation. Anomalous properties of water arise from the competition between relatively bulky ways of connecting molecules into local patterns characterized by strong bonds and nearly tetrahedral angles and more compact arrangements characterized by more strain and bond breakage. However, these alternatives constitute virtually a continuum of architectural possibilities rather than a discrete pair of options. The singular behavior of supercooled water near –45°C and the "hydrophobic" attraction between nonpolar entities are due to the same underlying phenomenon, namely, the clumping tendency of relatively strain-free convex cages or polyhedra.

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