The Uniqueness of Liquid Water


Water’s “ability to form the basis of biochemistry may well be unique … no other liquid has even a fraction of the favorable attributes of water… life not only has an absolute requirement for a liquid solvent, but… water is by far the most ‘qualified’ solvent to fulfill that role.”
— Kevin W. Plaxco and Michael Gross, Astrobiology: A Brief Introduction, pp. 14-17.

Water is able to hold in solution an enormous, unequalled range of diverse chemical compounds. Its particularly high dielectric constant is responsible for its ability to dissolve virtually all charged molecules. Its power as a solvent, along with its relative chemical inactivity, confers on water ideal properties to serve as the matrix of living systems… By vital coincidence, the temperature range in which water is a fluid, 0–100˚C, overlaps with the temperature range in which chemical bonds can be readily manipulated by biochemical systems… it has also become apparent that water is uniquely fit for proton conductance, a process crucial to all life that is now known to play a key role in biological energy transfers.

Michael Denton, “The Place of Life and Man in Nature” (BIO-Complexity)

For more information about the unique properties of water, and how they make human life and the life of other organisms possible, view The Privileged Species or read Chapter 2, “The Vital Fluid” in Michael Denton’s book Nature’s Destiny.