back to article That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN

Scientists believe that a "significant fraction" of water molecules found on this planet are older than Earth, the solar system and even the Sun. According to new research led by astro boffin Ilse Cleeves at the University of Michigan, a "significant fraction" of the big drink was created more than 4.5 billion years ago. The …

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Boffin

Since our solar system is only 4.5 billion years old....

And the universe is about14-15 billion years old.... And I have no idea how old he Milky Way is, but probably a lot older than the solar system....

I'd say the water came from the remains of previous long-dead stars from billions of years ago, plus some hydrogen that had also been floating through space for billions of year.

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Anonymous Coward

"making it about one million years older than the solar system"

One *million* years? That's a cosmic microsecond, a mere rounding error.

And simulating one million years of chemical soup in a computer program is probably about as accurate as predicting the weather in one hundred years' time. Oh wait...

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Re: "making it about one million years older than the solar system"

Here is the long term weather forecast for the next million years: Changeable, with a high probability of ice ages.

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Re: "making it about one million years older than the solar system"

We await the appearance of your paper contradicting their results.

This is what I love about the Reg - the readers are so much smarter than everyone else in the world.

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Anonymous Coward

So, not exactly fresh then.

Another good reason to avoid drinking it.

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MrT
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It can be purified...

...by brewing. For best effect, that should be carried out in Masham... ;-)

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Worse still; it has all been drunk and whizzed out by at least one dinosaur.

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He's right, you know.

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Well that explains

Budweiser

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Anonymous Coward

At least everyone should also have a homoeopathic immunity to any alien borne illnesses which may arrive here one day.

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Paris Hilton

opens up the idea that water may be found elsewhere in the universe

Yes. How has that been in doubt, ever?

Something must happen to the solar masses of hydrogen and oxygen blasted into space by supernovas. What could that be?

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Boffin

Water water everywhere

We have observed the spectral line of water vapour (at 22GHz) in star forming regions since 1969. It is hardly new.

There is a lot of water out there - it is hardly surprising if some turned up late.

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Megaphone

Panic!

We are literally awash with an alien substance. Tell the Daily Mail.

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Re: Panic!

Only tell them it's hydrogen dioxide. That will really merit a blasting headline.

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Boffin

Re: Panic!

"Only tell them it's hydrogen dioxide. That will really merit a blasting headline."

I thought it was dihydrogen oxide or oxygen dihydride. Can HO2 (can't do subscripts) even be made - no matter how much you blast the atoms in a collider?

Colin

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Re: Panic!

Rats.... senior moment. You're correct.

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Re: Panic!

I'd have thought Dihydrogen Monoxide would sound even scarier.

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Alert

Re: Panic!

Even better, tell 'em it's oxidane (the posh systematic name for Adam's Ale). That'll really confuse the buggers!

=:~)

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Re: Panic! - you're bunch of arm chair chemists

It's protium hydroxide, you amateurs!!

The stuff that kills you if you try to inhale it or drink too much of it!

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WTF?

Re: Panic! - you're bunch of arm chair chemists

Downvotes? Can it be we actually have two DM readers here?

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Devil

Re: Mark 85 Re: Panic!

".....tell them it's hydrogen dioxide....." Reminds me of the time Penn & Teller showed how scientifically clueless the average 'environmental campaigner' was by getting them to sign up for a ban of 'dihydrogen-monoxide' (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yi3erdgVVTw).

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Mushroom

Re: Panic!

@ Colin Brett:

Collider, oh please! Each of your cells is around 0.3%:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroperoxyl

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Pint

Re: Panic!

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/search?q=dihydrogen&state=closed

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dihydrogen_monoxide_hoax#cite_note-29

My own favorite: There may still be a few credulous engineers wondering what a dithyrambic synthesizer is. What fun these mortals be!

Beer will do. Bring on the maenads.

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Re: Panic!

"@ Colin Brett:

Collider, oh please! Each of your cells is around 0.3%:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroperoxyl"

We should be banning that shit as well..

"Hydroperoxyl is responsible for the destruction of ozone in the stratosphere"

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Re: Panic!

"Can HO2 (can't do subscripts) even be made - no matter how much you blast the atoms in a collider?"

Out in interstellar space, the rules are different. We can see spectral lines from species that are energetically unstable but which continue to exist because they can't fall apart without a third party to carry off some of the excess momentum.

Whether HO₂ falls in that category I couldn't say. Sorry, but I'm really only posting this to point out that Unicode contains a full set of superscript and subscript characters. The bit about interstellar space was just a hook. (True, though.)

Edit: Looks like I should have read some of the other replies before replying. At the bottom of the wikipedia page mentioned just above is a link to "List of interstellar and circumstellar molecules" which includes hydroperoxyl.

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Re: Panic!

We are literally awash with an alien substance. Tell the Daily Mail.

Do the Mail's readers wash?

(Awaiting downvotes from the three DM readers here...)

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Stunningly obvious 'discovery'

Ever notice Enceladus? Or Europa? Or a comet? Did you think water grows on trees? Try finding one on Enceladus.

Stars forge atoms into larger atoms, up to iron. Then, exploding stars forge even heavier elements while hurling them into the great wide open. Later, this material collects itself into new solar systems. It happens H is the most common atom and O is one of the most reactive common atoms. They cannot avoid getting to know one another. Scientists are supposed to know this stuff. So are schoolchildren.

Water might be the most common molecule in the universe.Of course Earths' water predates the Sun. We are certainly not going to be able to get any out of the Sun. Unless, I suppose, you go at night.

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Re: Stunningly obvious 'discovery' - H2 verses H2O

Think that molecular hydrogen is the most likely commonest molecule in the universe, bloody massive clouds of it floating around out there, more than has been incorporated in the stars or planets we can see.

Every proton, neutron and most electrons in the solar system are damned near as old as time itself!

Uppies anyway.

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Thumb Up

Re: Stunningly obvious 'discovery' - H2 verses H2O

Water? Atoms?

It's the protons that have been around for a long time, and will do for much longer. ;)

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Mushroom

Re: Stunningly obvious 'discovery' - H2 verses H2O

Downvoting my downvote comment too. Clearly I'm rattling some cages.

Good ... any advance on 3? :)

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Define 'local'

It is not clear to me about whether or not the hydrogen and oxygen used to make the water was from outlying molecules of the planetary forming disc or if they drifted in from unrelated stellar space.

If local then the water of life would still vary from system to system. If not local the clouds should be visible in interstellar space rather than just around forming systems.

The article seems deliberately vague on this point.

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Re: Define 'local'

"It is not clear to me about whether or not the hydrogen and oxygen used to make the water was from outlying molecules of the planetary forming disc or if they drifted in from unrelated stellar space.

If local then the water of life would still vary from system to system. If not local the clouds should be visible in interstellar space rather than just around forming systems"."

I am assuming you mean just Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules - otherwise you would think Oort type objects. I think it is reasonable to think that material is merging from outside our system, but I would wonder if it just collects in the outer reaches until it falls inward with one of the objects. I was looking at this chart for perspective:

http://www.redorbit.com/media/uploads/2004/10/4_dc08febfcab194aed2ada6677c525dc62.jpg

At the same time though, in the early formation of the sun and the solar system we were still in the cloud where other stars were born. You could look at it as if gas was arriving from outside the system, or we were all part of the same system. You could surmise that any gases outside our system falling in are really from the same original system. (I know The Reg had this article but I was having trouble finding it - fell free to sub the link)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/09/solar-system-origins-dust-cloud_n_5662441.html

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Re: Define 'local'

If you accept current Cosmology and stellar theory, there is some sense in which the origin of the water is irrelevant. After the BB you have hydrogen which gets converted into other chemicals in Type II starts. The Type II stars die and seed the surrounding area with the chemicals they generated. Since the fusion reactions depend on physics for their changeover points, the percentages of other elements produced by a given Type II star will be constant for all practical purposes. Which means you'll wind up with roughly the same percentages of hydrogen and oxygen in the regions forming Type I stars regardless.

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Anonymous Coward

And it is He (God) who created the heavens and the earth in six days - and His Throne had been upon water - that He might test you as to which of you is best in deed. But if you say, "Indeed, you are resurrected after death," those who disbelieve will surely say, "This is not but obvious magic."

[Quran 11:7]

This verse from the Quran, Surah Hud (Surah number 11), verse number is 7, tells us that god had created water before heavens and earth, so you came with nothing new.

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And your point? Beside maybe trying to convince some that your religion is the One True Religion based on one quote? Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn occasionally.

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Actually more than one religion notes this, Genesis has the spirit of God moving over the waters of the earth, pre-creation; the Enuma Elish (Babylonians) has everything coming from a primordial salt water entity; I'm sure there are others.

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Anonymous Coward

""Indeed, you are resurrected after death," those who disbelieve will surely say, "This is not but obvious magic.""

And yeay, it was but a universal fact that books of religous mumbo jumbo, unto the last one, were ever presented in the style of King James, for ever and ever, that the gullible shall believe the mystic nonsense and be in awe.

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"And it is He (God) "

God is Helium? Someone call John Carter!

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H to He Who Am the Only One.

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Actually more than one religion notes this, Genesis has the spirit of God moving over the waters of the earth, pre-creation; the Enuma Elish (Babylonians) has everything coming from a primordial salt water entity

More than one religion or variations of the same religion?

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God is merely a molecule of the imagination.

Water is real. Go figure.

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The six days abrahamic creation thing...

...Always cracks me up.

It's the sort of tale you'd invent if you were a bloke who wanted to frighten the people around you into doing whatever you tell them, and the people around you were largely peasants who couldn't read or write and lacked the education that today shows up these stories for the nonsense they always were.

What is even funnier is that you can still get a university 'degree' in this mumbo jumbo.

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Koran

Mohammed copied a lot of it from the Jewish and Christian books as he wanted them to join his new religion. He was quite puzzled that only taxes and/or swords convinced them to convert. The polytheistic people at the time though often converted.

He also only visited Jerusalem in a dream. It's not a reliable source for comment about science. For metaphysical or philosophical explanations the original texts may be clearer.

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Re: The six days abrahamic creation thing...

About that six day creation thing..

Which version?

There are two creation myths in genesis and they are about two pages* apart..

..annnnnnd they disagree with each other ever so slightly.

Does god suffer from multiple personality disorder?

P.S- The Hindu creation myth shows the unformed universe as being a vast ocean which you can see visualized in the opening title sequence from the fascinating movie "Sita Sings the Blues";

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1QkYOqI3jSM

---

*Your metric may vary if you are reading from a scroll.

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Oxygen not new

Our sun has not created oxygen atoms from hydrogen, so they must have been part of the cloud from which the sun was born. Similarly with nitrogen and carbon.

Hydrogen is overwhelmingly more abundant than the C N O atoms, so they will exist as hydrides: methane, ammonia, and water. Rather like the atmosphere of Jupiter, then. Yes, these hydrides will have existed before the solar system was born, though they may have been unformed and reformed by solar processes.

The article seems to be saying the deuterium abundances are a signal. But deuterium does not disappear until temperatures are high enough for nuclear reactions. So it is consumed within the sun, but not in the planetary zone. The measurements the article reports seem to buttress standard theory rather than saying anything new.

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Re: Oxygen not new - some is, but not a lot yet!

There is oxygen being produced in the various CNO (carbon nitrogen oxygen) reaction cycles in the sun but most gets consumed soon after formation (it is a cycle).

There is also the triple-alpha process producing carbon which can be hit by another alpha particle to produce stable oxygen 16. Again not a lot as yet but this does not get re-consumed and is an end product but won't be released until Sol's end days.

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Coat

Re: Oxygen not new - some is, but not a lot yet!

Oxygen 16? As long as it's not Ice-nine being produced!

(Very interesting in how there are different types of each atom/element :) )

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Re: Oxygen not new - some is, but not a lot yet!

The CNO nuclear cycle that you mention only runs in the bigger hotter stars, of which our sun is not one. So in our sun it is the process of two protons forming a deuteron plus an electron. This is a weak reaction and very slow. That is why stars shine for billions of years rather than exploding straightaway.

The deuterium reacts quickly to eventually form helium-4, which is why there is very little deuterium at any moment, and any excess in the original galactic mix would disappear.

So the sun does not currently form carbon or any nucleus later in the list of elements. When it becomes a red giant, billions of years hence, it will burn helium to carbon.

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but, but, but,

When uncle Ken tells us "if it's yellow...." we must heed his wise words, water is precious.

It can't possibly have been 100% recycled for the last 4.6 billion years. It must be a lie spread by those wicked water is precious deniers.

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Boffin

"But we're still in the dark about how it rained down on us"

Evidently, England[1] already existed as a fully-formed entity[2] in the dust cloud out of which the solar system would form.

[1] rain and all

[2] but possibly excluding Scotland

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