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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Scientists find the hottest water on Earth

Just south of the equator and nearly two miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, researchers have discovered the hottest liquid water ever found on Earth, in a state that has never before been observed in the natural world. Hydrothermal vents are discharging water in a "supercritical" state (I'm thinking it's analogous to plasma as a super-heated gas) that has been recorded to get as hot as 464 degrees Celsius. For us American folks, that's a whopping 867 degrees Fahrenheit for liquid water! The conditions are so adverse surrounding the vents that computer modeling is the only way to study them, since regular equipment would melt from the heat.

Interesting stuff. Great fodder for discussion for any science and physics teachers out there who want to get their students thinking about how things like temperature and pressure affect water's properties.