Posts byDaniele Monahan

What is water? Backpacking meditations

Gem Lake, Stanislaus National Forest photo credit: “hikingmike” (Flikr)

It’s late May, almost June, but the shady valleys a few hours from Berkeley still contain a few slushy snow banks. The Sierras, of course, will be dappled with white year-round. In the spring the abundant snowmelt makes for waist-high river crossings and trails that can look more like Venetian canals.

Water, water, everywhere. The triatomic molecule, seemingly so simple, occupies whole academic clans of physical chemists. One might choose to study interface properties, solvated electrons, solvent reorganization energies, molecular cluster structures, evaporation mechanisms, exotic ice phasesthe list is exhaustive. Or one might choose only to contemplate the smooth surface of an alpine lake.