return to Sample Issue Menu

How To Make Water (and Ice)

"Uncle Bob" Mead

Start with a water molecule: one oxygen bonded to two hydrogen atoms at 109 degrees. Add a second molecule. The ends (hydrogens) must join at 109 from the existing bonds AND join with the oxygen (since like charges repel and unlike ones attract). In water form some hydrogens just "flirt" with the oxygen (creating the fluid properties). When water freezes the bonds are fixed.


Join 6 molecules in this manner in a ring shape to get a spiny non-planar hexagon.



And now it's winter and we have a whole bunch of ice. It is a lattice of ice molecules, each joined with 3 others.


Two interesting views show hexagonal and then rectangular symmetries.



return to Sample Issue Menu