Water and life: the unique properties of H2O

Water and life: the unique properties of H2O

Ruth M Lynden-Bell  et al  

Boca Raton, US: CRC Press  2010 | 396pp | ?57.99 (HB) 

ISBN 9781439803561  

Reviewed by Emma Goslan 


This book was borne out of an exchange of ideas that occurred during a symposium held in 2005 entitled ’  Water of life: counterfactual chemistry and fine tuning in biochemistry - an inquiry into the peculiar properties of water related to L J Henderson’s "The fitness of the environment"’.  

It covers a wide range of subjects in great detail, including the sciences (chemistry, biology, biochemistry, planetary and earth science) in the first four chapters. 

The focus in chapters one to three is on water and its impact on life but also on its unique and unusual properties and interactions in cells and biological processes with detailed and thorough essays. 

The fourth chapter is concerned with water in the solar system and the origin of life. 

In the final chapter there is a number of essays on humanistic disciplines such as the history of science and theology which provide personal perspectives. One of these perspectives discusses the historical reporting of the natural theology of water and the influence of Darwin. The book often takes a philosophical view on water and its role in life on Earth and beyond.  

Overall the book is interesting with well considered perspectives. This is unlikely to be regarded as a textbook for undergraduate chemists and would be of greater interest to water professionals and scholars and may serve to allow greater understanding amongst the many disciplines present in the water research community.