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Life's Matrix: a Biography of Water Review

In: Science

Submitted By salz12
Words 391
Pages 2
6 May 2015
For my book report I chose to read Life’s Matrix: A Biography of Water by Philip Ball. The book chronicles the development of water from its formation via basic elemental particles to its role in modern society as a resource and the associated perspectives and issues surrounding it. The text was particularly engaging, reminiscent of a Feynman or Sagan, and reflected a true passion for science that easily inspires the reader and provides for an unexpectedly pleasant reading experience especially given what some might consider boring subject matter. The text is very informative and goes deeper into the science behind water than one would expect, despite oversimplifying in a number of instances (e.g. the analogy of molecular bonds being the hands that “grab” electrons to form a full atomic structure).
I am very interested in Astronomy all things related to the greater cosmos so I thoroughly enjoyed Ball’s discussion on hydrogen and oxygen’s incredible journey from their creation in the elemental ovens of the stars to their union across the universe, somehow joining together to create the birth medium of all life as we know it. Pondering the mechanisms of the universe on this scale is quite a spiritual experience for me. To consider the possibility of a vast infinity in which a few unfathomably tiny particles can spark such great change was a wonderful thought experiment.
Something I found extraordinary to ponder was how rapid the evolution of everything that water produced was and is in comparison to the time scale of the evolution of the universe. We talk about the Earth being around 4 or 5 billion years old and the simplest forms of life not appearing for another billion years, thus these primordial water particles floated around for billions of years waiting to unlock one of the greatest wonders of the universe. Fact that something so small could produce such radical change seems highly unlikely when considering the differences in scale we are considering. Of course, this also invokes the question of the probability that water did not form in another part of the universe and create, and again, when considering the infinite possibilities provided by the ceaselessly expanding universe, one has no choice to accept the fact that not only is life in another part of the universe possible, but highly probable.

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