December 18, 2017

Horse 2355 - Water Is Wet

If there's one thing that I do exceptionally well, it is wandering into an​ argument (however petty), being obsessed to find out everything that I need to to resolve it, before casting judgement. I am the chess playing pigeon who knocks over the king and claims victory but not before thinking about all of the ways to win.
The petty argument that I have wandered into today and which needs resolving is the insanely simple question of "is water wet?".

My first inkling is that this is one of those questions like "is the pope a Catholic?" or "does the bear poop in the woods?"; which should be a knock down walkover. Both of those questions aren't immediately straightforward though, as the pope might be an Orthodox pope and the bear might be a plains dweller. As for the question "is the bear a Catholic?" then that opens up still further questions that have to do with the religious outlook of the bear and whether or not they happen to believe in things which have been proposed post reformation.
An answer to this question is that of course the bear is a Catholic because if they saw the 95 theses nailed to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenburg, they'd tear it down. Let's go back to the matter at hand.

Is water wet?

The quality of being "wet" has to do with the amount of moisture which is either in or which covers a thing. If the floor is wet, it is because there is water covering the floor. If a tray is wet, it is because there is water covering the tray (and you should probably start a fight in the canteen). If it is wet outside, it is because there is water covering everything.
Conversely, the state of being dry has to do with the absence of wetness. Right? Maybe not.

Although the desert may be said to be dry, and dry ice is dry because it contains no water, then how about the dryest continent on Earth, Antarctica? That place has piles of water all over the place; quite literally piles of water. In fact there's mountains of the stuff. How can there be water everywhere and it still not be wet?

Obviously our notion of what is "wet" has to change somewhat. If it isn't water covering a thing that makes it wet, then logic dictates that the thing making it wet is the amount of liquid water either in or covering a thing. I think that makes sense. As the owner of a liquid meatbag consciousness containing machine, I like to keep my wetness contained inside me and find the acts of expelling it quite disturbing. I very much enjoy various actions which replenish the amount of internal wetness I contain, with various kinds of vegetable and animal products.

If you venture into an alpine region, you never complain about how wet it all is until you get the water very close to your skin; wherein what may have been snow turns back into liquid water again. I had an awful afternoon in the snow once when someone threw a load of snow down the back of my jacket and I wasn't properly happy again until I found a leather couch by a nice fire, wherein I could dry out and a particularly memorable hot chocolate and coffee.

The oblique question which prompted this was "is the ocean wet?" I think that it stands to reason that the ocean which is made of liquid water covering other liquid water is wet because liquid water is wet. I think that that also goes for a swimming pool, a cup of tea, and the inside of a Coke bottle. If you jumped into any of those things, you would be wet.

What about water vapour? If you've walked inside a cloud it certainly feels wet. Where you have liquid water in droplets, I think that counts. Steam on the other hand isn't wet. When it condenses back into liquid a thing becomes wet but not before. I have no idea about water as a plasma but I suspect that it wouldn't be wet. Nor do I think that monomolecular water in a vacuum counts as a liquid but I could be wrong.

Is water wet? Not exactly. Liquid water is wet. Ice is only wet if it is covered in liquid water. Steam is not wet and I don't think that plasma or monomolecular water is either.

No comments: