Anatomy of water

When trying to start at the very beginning, thus with the formation of water, one has to look very far back. Over 14 billion years, to the so-called Big Bang, the beginning of time and space. It is also essential to delve a bit into the details (of the natural sciences).

What has happened up to now (a scientific theory):
The basic building blocks of matter, protons and neutrons, formed out of the amorphous “primordial mass”. In turn, these protons and neutrons coalesced into the so-called “light atomic nuclei”. A bit later, after the temperature had dropped from the initial 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1018) degrees Celsius to the relatively cool 4,000 degrees Celsius were the atomic nuclei able to attract and bind free-floating electrons thanks to their electrical force of attraction. This is how the first “light chemical elements” formed. And specifically: hydrogen gas out of one proton and one electron, and helium gas out of two protons, neutrons and electrons. In the beginning these two elements made up 99% of the entire matter in the universe. Then the clouds of matter formed stars in which the individual hydrogen and helium molecules combined to form larger molecules, the so-called “heavy chemical elements”. These were primarily carbon and oxygen. Long before the seething “primordial soup” clumped together into today’s heavenly bodies, the fusion of hydrogen and oxygen formed: water.

The first to think about themselves and the world.
When Man began to search for explanations for the creation of the world, his questions led him to religion first. He created higher beings for himself: the gods. He tried to fathom their plans and intentions through oracles, and to influence their actions through rites and oblations. This cleared things up for a while. But not for everyone: There may not have been any Big Bang theory (see above) around 625 – 547 BC, but there was the philosopher Thales of Miletus and, according to lore, the following statement made by him: “Water is the principle of all things …”. In his deliberations Thales was considering the question of the very basis of all being and everything that happens. Since he thought that he saw a cycle of creation, the sought-after primordial substance had to be not only prevalent, but also versatile. Water seems to fulfil these demands perfectly… Thales was already considered to be the founder of philosophy, science and astronomy in the time of Plato and Aristotle. A philosopher who acquired his knowledge through detailed observation of nature. Thales himself did not leave any writings to the ensuing ages. The few source fragments which try to list what he knew come mostly from the portrayals of the philosophers Aristotle and Plato. And it was Aristotle who – building on Thales’ theories – improved on the four-element theory of the philosopher Empedocles: All being is composed of the four basic elements fire, water, air and earth. The five-element theory, a taoistic theory of nature, is often considered to be the Chinese equivalent of the Occidental four-element theory. This theory is based on the assumed basic elements wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The interaction of these elements starts a process chain, which is applied in many different sequences in the organic realm. In the human body, in character lore, or in astrology, for example. The common factor between the two theories is that they can be traced back to the archaic, conscious examination of Man’s relation with nature.

Today, reams of information later:
“The ocean of knowledge”, “the flow of time”, “the fountain of truth”… A fundamental reference to water and its power (beyond the purely physical) is maintained in many metaphors. At the same time, water is one of today’s most prevalent social and global topics. If you enter the term “water” in the Google search engine, you get several million hits. On the other hand, if you enter the term “water” in the free internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia, you get all the basics: “… The largest part of the world’s surface (71%) is covered with water, which is the case especially on the southern hemisphere and is illustrated to the extreme on the water hemisphere. The worldwide occurrence of water amounts to approx. 1.386 billion cubic kilometres, 1.338 billion cubic kilometres (96.5%) of which are found as salt water in the world’s oceans which have an average depth of around 3,730 metres. Only 48 million cubic kilometres (3.5%) of terrestrial water is in the form of freshwater…” On the other hand one also learns that: “One of the biggest challenges facing humanity over the next few decades is the still unavailable or insufficient supply of hygienically and toxicologically harmless drinking water as well as a sufficient amount of process water for a large part of the world’s population.”

Or as Gérard Mestrallet, head of the international water corporation Suez-Ondéo, said: “God provided the water, but not the pipes.”