An Interesting Property of Water
We all know that water boils at 100º C and freezes
at 0º C. In fact, under normal circumstances, water should be boiling
not at 100º C but at + 180º C. Why?
In the periodic table, the properties of elements in the same group
vary in a progressive form from light elements towards heavy elements.
This order is most evident in hydrogen compounds. The compounds
of the elements sharing the same group with oxygen in the periodic
table are called "hydrides". In fact, water is "oxygen
hydride". Hydrides of other elements in this group have the
same molecular structure as the water molecule.
The boiling points of these compounds vary in a progressive way
from sulphur to heavier ones; however, the boiling point of water
unexpectedly goes against this pattern. Water (oxygen hydride) boils
at 80º C less than it is supposed to. Another surprising situation
has to do with the freezing point of water. Again, according to
the order in the periodic system, water is supposed to freeze at
- 100º C. Yet, water breaks this rule and freezes at 0º C, 100º
C above the temperature at which it is due. This brings to mind
the question as to why no other hydride, but only water (oxygen
hydride) disobeys the rules of the periodic system.
at the surface of a liquid feel a net force pulling inward.
This is surface tension. It provides a cohesive force between
the surface molecules, which is sufficient to prevent the legs
of a ripple bug from breaking through. The high surface tension
in water is vital to physiological processes. 1
The laws of physics, the laws of chemistry, and all the other things
we name as rules are just attempts at explaining the extraordinary
equilibrium in the universe, and the details of creation. All research
conducted in the 20th century shows more than ever that all the
physical balances in the universe are tailor-made for human life.
Research reveals that all the laws of physics, chemistry and biology
prevalent in the universe as well as the atmosphere, sun, atoms
and molecules, etc., are all arranged just as they are needed in
order to support human life. Water, like the other elements mentioned
above, is fit for life to such a degree as not to be comparable
to any other liquid, and a major portion of the earth is filled
with water in just the right amounts required for life. It is obvious
that all these cannot be coincidences and that there is perfect
order and design prevalent in the universe.
The staggering physical and chemical properties of water reveal
that this liquid has been created specially for human life. Allah
gave life to people through water and by it has brought forth from
the earth everything they need in order to live. Allah summons people
to think about this subject in the Qur'an:
It is He Who sends down water from the sky from which We bring forth
growth of every kind, and from that We bring forth the green shoots
and from them We bring forth close-packed seeds, and from the spathes
of the date palm date clusters hanging down, and gardens of grapes
and olives and pomegranates, both similar and dissimilar. Look at
their fruits as they bear fruit and ripen. There are Signs in that
for people who believe. (Surat
The ProtectIve CeIlIng: Ozone
The air we breathe, that is, the lower atmosphere, is in the main
composed of oxygen gas. By oxygen gas, we mean O2. That
is to say that the oxygen molecules in the lower atmosphere are
each comprised of two atoms. However, the oxygen molecule may sometimes
be comprised of three atoms (O3). In this case, this
molecule is no longer called oxygen, but "ozone", because
these two gases are quite different from each other.
One point needs mention here: while oxygen is formed
when two oxygen atoms combine, why is a different gas called ozone
formed when three oxygen atoms combine? Eventually, isn't it the
oxygen atom that combines, be it two or three atoms in a molecule?
Why then do two different gases emerge? Before answering these questions,
it would be better to see what differentiates these gasses from
Oxygen (O2) is found in the lower atmosphere
and gives life to all living beings through respiration. Ozone (O3)
is a poisonous gas with a very bad smell. It is found in the highest
strata of the atmosphere. If we had to breathe ozone instead of
oxygen, none of us would survive.
The ozone is in the upper atmosphere, because there
it serves a highly vital function for life. It forms a layer approximately
20 km above the atmosphere surrounding the earth like a belt. It
absorbs the ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun, preventing them
from reaching the earth at full intensity. Since ultraviolet rays
have very high energy, their direct contact with the earth would
cause everything on the earth to burn up, never allowing life to
form. For this reason, the ozone layer serves as a protective shield
in the atmosphere.
In order for life to exist on the earth, all living
beings must be able to breathe and be protected from harmful sunrays.
The one who forms this system is Allah, Who rules over each atom,
each molecule. Without Allah's permission, no power whatsoever could
bring these atoms together in different proportions as oxygen and
ozone gas molecules.
Molecules We Taste and Smell
The senses of taste and smell are perceptions making man's world
more beautiful. The pleasure derived from these senses has been
a matter of interest since ancient times and it has been discovered
only recently that these are caused by molecular interactions.
"Taste" and "smell" are only perceptions
that are created by different molecules in our sense organs. For
instance, the smells of food, drinks, or various fruits and flowers
we see around us all consist of volatile molecules. So, how does
Volatile molecules like aroma of vanilla and aroma
of rose reach the receptors located on the vibrating hairs in the
nasal region called the epithelium and interact with those receptors.
This interaction is perceived as smell in our brains. So far, seven
different types of receptors have been identified in our nasal cavity,
which is lined by a smelling membrane of 2-3 cm2. Each one of these
receptors corresponds to a basic smell. In the same way, there are
four different types of chemical receptors in the front part of
our tongue. These correspond to salty, sweet, sour and bitter tastes.
Our brains perceive molecules arriving at the receptors of our sense
organs as chemical signals.
It has been discovered how taste and smell are perceived
and how they are formed, yet scientists have so far not been able
to reach agreement as to why certain substances have a strong smell
while some have less and why some taste good and some bad.
Piperine is the
active component of white and
black pepper (the berries of the tropical vine
Piper nigrum). Black pepper is obtained by
allowing the unripe fruit to ferment and then
drying it. White pepper is obtained by
removing the skins and pulp of the ripe
berries and drying the seeds.2
Para-HYDROXYPHENOL -2-BUTANONE ve IONONE
of these two molecules produces a very pleasant aroma.
Butanone is the molecule chiefly responsible for the
smell of ripe raspberries. The
fresh new smell of the newly picked fruit is due partly
to ionone, which is also responsible for the odours
of sun-dried hay and violets. Ionone is the fragrant
component of oil of violets.3
is one of those responsible for the aroma of coffee.
The stimulating action of coffee is due to caffeine.
The colour of roasted coffee beans seen left is largely
due to the browning reaction that occurs when organic
substances containing nitrogen are heated. Temporarily
trapped within the beans are the molecules responsible
for flavour and stimulation.4
common name of b-Keratin, is the solidified fluid
excreted by a number of insects and spiders, the most
valuable being the exudent of the silkworm, the caterpillar
of the silk moth. It is a polypeptide made largely from
glycine, alanine, and smaller amounts of other amino acids.
b-Keratin molecules do not form a helix; instead they
lie on top of each other to give ridged sheets of linked
amino acids, with glycine appearing on only one side of
the sheets. The sheets then stack one on top of the other.
This planar structure is felt when you touch the smooth
surface of silk.5
Think for a minute. We could be living in a world without any flavour
or odour. Since we would have no idea about the concepts of taste
and fragrance, it would not even occur to us to wish to possess
these perceptions. However, it is not so. Out of the brown soil
with a unique smell come hundreds of types of aromatic and delicious
fruits, vegetables and flowers in thousands of colours, shapes and
fragrances. Why then do these atoms, which, on one hand, come together
in an extraordinary way to form matter, combine, on the other hand,
to produce taste and smell? Although we often take them as granted
and do not remember much what a great favour they are, they pleasantly
contribute to our world as products of a magnificent artistry.
||The picture on the right
belongs to an evil-smelling molecule and the one on the left
to an aromatic molecule. As we can see, what distinguishes bad
odour from a pleasant odour is these small differences in a
microcosm which is invisible to us.
As for other living beings, some eat only grass and
some different foodstuffs. Certainly, none of these smell good,
or have a great taste. Even if they do, this does not mean much
for these living beings as they do not have any consciousness in
the sense that human beings have. We, too, could be feeding on a
single type of nutrition like them. Have you ever thought how ordinary
and tasteless your would life be if you had to eat a single type
of food all your life and drink only water? Therefore, taste and
smell, like all other blessings, are beauties Allah, possessor of
infinite grace and bounty, gave man in return for nothing. The absence
of even these two senses alone would make human life quite dull.
In return for all these blessings given to him, what falls to man
is to try to become a person with whom Allah would be pleased. In
compensation for this attitude, his Lord promises him an eternal
life, which is unlimitedly furnished with blessings far superior
to those that are presented to us on the earth as samples of delights
to come in the hereafter. However, the recompense of a life spent
ungratefully, heedlessly, and neglectful of Allah, will certainly
be a just one:
And when your Lord announced: "If you are grateful, I will
certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment
is severe." (Surah Ibrahim:
How Do We PerceIve Matter?
What we have told so far has revealed that what we call matter is
not an entity having a specific colour, smell and form, as we believed
it to be. What we imagine to be matter, that is our own body, our
room, our home, and at large, the world and the whole universe,
is in reality nothing but energy. What is it then that makes everything
around us visible and touchable?
The reason why we perceive the things around
us as matter is the collision of electrons in the orbital shells
of atoms with photons, and the atoms' attracting and repelling each
You are not even touching the book that you think you hold in your
hand right now… In truth, the atoms of your hand are repelling the
atoms of the book and you feel a sense of touch depending on the
intensity of this repulsion. As we mentioned while talking about
the structure of atoms, they can come close to each other at most
as much as the diameter of an atom. Besides, the only atoms that
can come this close are those that react with each other. Therefore,
when even atoms of the same substance can by no means touch each
other, it is all the more impossible for us to touch the substance
we hold, squeeze or lift with our hand. In fact, if we could come
as close as possible to the object in our hand, we would be involved
in a chemical reaction with that object. In this case, it would
be impossible for a human being or another living being to survive
even for a second. The living being would immediately react with
the substance on which he stepped, sat or leaned, and be transformed
into something else.
The final picture that emerges
in this situation is extremely remarkable: we live in a world that
is 99.95 % composed of a void filled with atoms consisting almost
entirely of energy.6 We actually never touch the
things we say, "we touch and we hold". So, to what extent
do we perceive the matter we see, hear or smell? Are these substances
really as we see or hear them? Absolutely not. We had addressed
this point when we talked about electrons and molecules. Remember,
it is literally impossible for us to see the matter we believe to
exist and see, because the phenomenon we call seeing comprises certain
images formed in our brain by photons coming from the sun, or from
another light source, hitting the matter, which absorbs a certain
portion of the incoming light, and gives out the rest, which therefore
is re-emitted from the matter and strikes our eyes. That is to say
that the matter we see only consists of the information carried
by photons that are reflected to our eye. So, how much of the data
related to matter is conveyed to us by this information? We have
no proof that the original forms of the matters existing outside
are fully reflected to us.
Martin Sherwood & Christine Sulton, The Physical World, Oxford
University Press, 1988, p. 30
2. P.W. Atkins, Molecules, Scientific American Library, p. 115
3. P.W. Atkins, Molecules, Scientific American Library, p. 128
4. P.W. Atkins, Molecules, Scientific American Library, p. 130
5.P.W. Atkins, Molecules, Scientific American Library, p. 93
6.Taskin Tuna, Uzayin Otesi (Beyond Space), Bogazici Yayinlari, 1995,