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Why Water is Weird with Philip Ball

In this Live Lesson, learners will meet Philip Ball and begin to understand water, something we thought we already knew. This lesson will focus on chemistry, physics and biology: from chemical bonding to states of matter to the structure and organisation of cells and their molecular components.

Water is such a familiar substance, and so simple a molecule (with the formula H2O) that you might imagine we know everything there is to know about it. But on the contrary, it is the weirdest liquid, and even today scientists aren't fully sure they understand it. It seems to break all the rules - its solid form ice floats on the liquid, for instance, and the normal laws of liquids don't apply to it. But the weird ways of water turn out to be the very reason why it is so essential for all life on earth.

This talk explores the weirdness of water, from the many different forms of ice (more than 12) to the question of whether it exists on other planets and if it might let them support alien life.

Broadcast on Thu 2 Apr 2020
  • 45 mins
  • Ages 11-14, Ages 14-16

Don't forget to submit questions in advance via the Live Lesson tab in your user profile, once you have booked the lesson.

Live lesson outline

1. Introduction (5 mins)

The Live Lesson host welcomes students and outlines the lesson. There will also be shout-outs to any registered schools, so listen out for yours.

2. Presentation (20 mins)

The host will then introduce Philip Ball, who will take students through a short presentation. Students are encouraged to take notes about things they do and especially do not understand, as this will make the Q&A section a richer learning experience, and allow any misconceptions to be cleared up.

3. Pre-submitted questions (10 mins)

At this point, the team will answer as many pre-submitted questions as possible.

4. Live questions answered (10 mins)

The remaining time will be spent answering as many questions from the Youtube live chat as possible.


Philip ball

Philip Ball

PhD in Physics