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Rainy Holiday Weekend? Don’t Let It Get You Down — Appreciate the Wonder of Water


Editor’s note: Meteorologists’ predictions of a rain-soaked holiday weekend in the Seattle area have so far proven to be in error.

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend promises to be a rainy one here in the Seattle, with the constant pitter-patter of droplets on wet cement and brown, soggy leaves. I think it can be easy for me (and others in and outside of the Pacific North-Wet) to forget how amazing water really is, and how worthy of our grateful attention.

On ID the Future, take ten minutes and hear an excerpt from the documentary Privileged Species, about water, highlighting the work of biologist Michael Denton. How is water the “universal solvent”? What is viscosity? How does water keep temperatures stable? Listen in to learn about the hydrologic cycle and more!

But this segment is just the beginning. To dive deeper into water’s unique properties, read Dr. Denton’s recently released book, The Wonder of Water: Water’s Profound Fitness for Life on Earth and Mankind. Here’s an excerpt:

Summer in Yosemite. Standing underneath the Bridalveil Fall, the spray gently sprinkles your face and diffracts the sunlight into a rainbow….

Those tumbling waters, and indeed those of every waterfall on Earth, are hard at work eroding the rocks. By this primal activity, ongoing for billions of years, the waters tumbling over a myriad of falls in every region of Earth are playing a key role in leaching minerals from the rocks. Through this process, water provides the vital elements of life for all land-based creatures. Without this vital work, performed before our eyes as these beautiful cascading waters fall to the valley floor, there would be no essential elements and nutrients for life on land. The world would be a barren waste. No one would ever gaze upon the beauty of Yosemite.

As we contemplate the beauty of the fall, yet another unseen and very different magic is at work in our bodies. This one also depends on the unique fitness of water, and it too makes it possible, though in a far more immediate and intimate sense, for us to perceive the scene. The same wonder substance that is eroding those rocks and providing life with essential nutrients and minerals is doing something else! By virtue of another suite of unique chemical and physical properties, talents very different from those it uses in the fall, water provides us and all complex life on earth with an ideal medium for a circulatory system. With each beat of our heart, water carries to our tissues oxygen and many of those very same nutrients leached from the rocks in the fall.

So yes, there’s rain in the forecast. But that’s not mundane — it’s a reminder of something amazing. Listen to the podcast here.

Photo: Rain on holiday traffic, Seattle, WA, by Wonderlane, via Flickr.