Mysteries of Water, Salt and Life

Despite the apparent simplicity of the water molecule, water is probably the most mysterious substance to both science and religions. Almost all religions decree the magic power of pure water. On the other hand, probably all biological reactions occur in salty water. Water covers twothirds of our planet. At least to our experience, where there is water, there is life. Water is widely regarded as the ‘matrix of life’ which is not just a passive scaffold but also has many active roles in molecular biology. There are various scientific debates associated with water. For example, in the late 1960s, Russian chemist Boris Deryaguin and his colleagues claimed that polywater, a gel-like form of water, could be observed in small capillary tubes. Even more unbelievably, in the 1980s Benveniste and his collaborators proposed the notion of the ‘memory of water’, whereby the liquid water could allegedly be imprinted by biomolecular information which is now extensively used to justify homeopathy. In this module, we will explore how water, together with salts, shaped the emergence and evolution of life and also the students will have a full freedom to give your own opinions on the debates. References: 1. Song J (2009) Insight into ‘‘insoluble proteins” with pure water, FEBS Lett. 583, 953–959. Water - The Great Mystery, Video in Youtube.

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