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rebbel's avatar

Do water particles travel?

Asked by rebbel (23532 points ) July 26th, 2011

When I, like today, am watching the waves roll in and out on/off the shore, sometimes this strange question arises: A water particle (or droplet or molecule or whatever it is called) that just came to shore, does it ‘stay around’ that location or does it get taken away again, to hundred miles back in the ocean, only to start its journey to shore again?
Or does that water particle that was in Greece today end up in Florida one day (or some place else of course)?

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16 Answers

ucme's avatar

Yeah, millions of the little buggers cling to a ship’s hull & hitch a ride to far off lands seeking a new life, brings a tear to the eye just thinking about it.
Actually on a not entirely unrelated topic, when I was a kid & it rained, I assumed it was raining all over the globe.
Just thought i’d add that for no good reason, although it kinda ties in with your original thought.

Blackberry's avatar

Of course, how do you think clouds are formed. Water rises and is condensed. There’s still moisture already up there, too, but convection causes updrafts that make cumulus’ rise and turn into a cumulonimbus’.

mazingerz88's avatar

Maybe not that far, from Greece to Florida? We’re talking about one unique particle here right?

I’d prefer to see water particles travel from one’s woman’s breast to the other. Now that’s more like it. : )

marinelife's avatar

Water evaporates and forms clouds, and then rains down to Earth again. Clouds can travel all over the world (and do). So, yes, water travels, but not in drop form.

koanhead's avatar

All particles not at absolute zero temperature are in constant motion. Atoms which are not bound into macrocrystalline structures and which exist in “normal” temperatures (that is, temperatures that humans might find comfortable) move around quite a bit.
Also, Brownian motion .

rebbel's avatar

Thank you for the answers so far, they make sense.
But is there never one water thingy that doesn’t make it to be part of a cloud or that doesn’t get to see other parts of the world?
I realise that this sounds a bit naive or romantic or melancholic, but sometimes I feel sorry for them :-)
All that traveling, together with your fellow water particles, only to be thrown on the beach and never to see your buddies again…

syz's avatar

Just think of the water particles now being released due to the melting of the polar ice caps – they may have been trapped there for millennia.

flutherother's avatar

Water molecules stick together as they are electrically charged. They don’t stay together forever as water is evaporated by warmth and the breeze carries them all over the world. Water has not been created on the Earth for billions and billions of years and some of the molecules in that bottle of Dasani designer water were pissed out by the dinosaurs.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Water is always in motion of some sort, even if the vessel sitting in it is not moving, I suspect the water is moving in small undectectable ways. People have talked about tossing messages in a bottle and having it travel across the ocean, I don’t think the water stayed still and just hoisted the bottle alone like a person riding a human wave at a concert.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rebbel Funny you asked this. I was just having a discussion about this with my son. I promised him that on the next foggy night (we get a lot here in the “valley” of our village) that I’d take him across the street to the pond/creek area so he could watch the evaporation process and see the clouds forming.

gasman's avatar

The particles of water in ocean waves move in small circles, even though the wave itself propagates over long distances. See this graphic (there are many) for an illustration of how this is possible.

Zaku's avatar

Water than ends up landing on a mountain or polar region or in a cavern or other underground region and frozen in and then under other water in a glacier or ice pack can get stuck for a long long long time. Many of those have been getting released recently, what with the massive erosion and melting of ancient polar ice packs and glaciers.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Water on Earth is like magic. Most of us do not know how it works, it is sometimes taken for granted, there are occasions where it is worshiped, and there are a few that concern themselves about its importance.

Here is a Wikipedia link to the Water Cycle, which, as a novice, helped me understand how it all works.

What is more fascinating is the thought that the water that comes out of the kitchen sink tap may have been part of ancient Rome or Egypt or anything else in the past. It is likely that it passed through the bodies of other creatures, be it animal or vegetable.

Hibernate's avatar

We can’t know for sure how the water circuit really goes.

dabbler's avatar

@rebbel “sometimes I feel sorry for them” That’s a profound point of view. Reminds me of a line from some eccentric opera “Is the gold in Fort Knox happy gold?”

If you really want to be concerned for some particles here are some that concern me: water that was just used in a manufacturing process, air that just went through a jet engine or your car engine, electrons that are forced to shove back and forth on the copper wire 60 times a second to power the computer…

Face it, particles got it rough.

rebbel's avatar

@dabbler I agree, they do.
Thanks for your insight!

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