Scientists from New York are redefining biological matter in a way that sounds like Avatar, the Way of Water, might have inspired it. Essentially, they found that “It’s really water’s world” when defining organic structures, not only those in the sea.
Looking at the trees, we can see them in a new way, held up as much by water tension as molecules.
“When we take a walk in the woods, we think of the trees and plants around us as typical solids. This research shows that we should really think of those trees and plants as towers of water holding sugars and proteins in place. It’s really water’s world,” said Professor Ozgur Sahin.
Contrast this quote with a quote from The Way of Water which takes it in the spiritual direction.
“The way of water has no beginning and no end. The sea is around you, and in you. The sea is your home, before your birth, and after your death. Our hearts beat in the womb of the world. Our breath burns in the shadows of the deep. The sea gives, and the sea takes. Water connects all things. Life to death. Darkness to light.”
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Columbia University scientists have found that the water inside biological matter almost entirely defines its structure. So much so they have dubbed a new class of matter: “hydration solids.”
Hydration Solids Held Up by Water Tension
Here are some examples of hydration solids, defined as natural materials responsive to the ambient humidity around them.
- pine cones
Water Tips the Balance to Order
It’s been known since ancient times that “the language of truth is simple.” Likewise, the scientists remarked that the more they worked on the projects, “the simpler the answers became.” Their simple equation can show how humidity, temperature, and molecule size affect a hydration solid’s elasticity or how hard or soft a solid is.
Furthermore, the tension between water and biological molecules, or hydration force, “tips the balance towards order” versus disorder.
“Water wants to return to its original state. As a result, the water molecules push the biological matter’s molecules away,” Columbia News explained.
Harnessing the Energy of Evaporating Water
In 2015, Professor Sahin and his students were working on a project that inspired the study of hydration solids. They found they could harness energy from common soil bacteria spores, which expand rapidly when exposed to humidity, then shrink again when water evaporates.
Controlling the process, they powered a toy car’s wheels using a film of spores and glue on plastic tape that worked like a muscle. Other experiments lifted weights and opened and closed shutters (see video below).
Scaled up, it might become a “moisture mill,” which sounds like another Sci-Fi concept from Star Wars (moisture farming).
“Imagine something the size of a windmill, but run by evaporation. Call it a moisture mill,” the New York Times reported.
Video about the Spore Machine by The New York Times: