Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink

How can we live on a planet overflowing with 326 million trillion gallons of water and still face shortages? Even if only about .05 percent of it is drinkable, shouldn’t there be some way to purify the rest? Actually, people all over the world convert seawater to potable water, but the process tends to be prohibitively expensive at large scales. Even so, with looming droughts, natural disasters and the large-scale redistribution of moisture threatened by climate change, the need for a solution grows more essential every day.

Why can’t we convert salt water into drinking water?

Moving jerkily and loving it

Strictly speaking, hiking does not require special gear. However, because it takes more of a physical toll than walking, you might want a little extra help on those rocky paths, unstable hills and steep climbs. The more you exert yourself or push on into hostile terrain, the more you’ll need the right equipment. That goes double for rock climbing, scrambling or mountaineering. In this article, I go over some of at the gear you’ll need to get the most out of your hike.

How hiking gear works

Now you’re cooking with science

Induction cooktops are faster than electrics, as responsive as gas, and safer and easier to clean than glass-and-ceramic-top stoves. Unlike these other approaches, which heat food indirectly, induction cooktops use electromagnetism to heat the cookware itself. In this article, I’ll show you how the same power-producing principle that drives Hoover Dam’s giant generators is being used to cook dinner in a kitchen near you.

How induction cooktops work

Phoenix and Portland plan for potable problems

Image of a Portland bridge
Photo courtesy ASU/DCDC

Phoenix, Ariz., is a sprawling desert city with twice the population of Portland, Ore., and one-fifth its annual rainfall. The Valley of the Sun irrigates its golf courses with water channeled from the Salt, Verde and Colorado Rivers, while the City of Roses guzzles winter rains and stores the remainder in the reservoirs of the Bull Run Watershed.

What could these two cities possibly have in common? Simple. They both face seasonal water shortages if projections of population growth and climate change hold true.

Phoenix, Portland study brings policy into focus

No ordinary glass of water

Grade schools teach that there are three or four states of matter—solid, liquid, gas and possibly plasma. Nature is much fuzzier than that, however. Depending who you ask, there may be more than a dozen states of matter, along with numerous substates such as glass.

Portrait of C. Austen Angell
C. Austen Angell. Image courtesy Arizona State University

Yes, glass. Scientifically speaking, glass is a highly viscous, noncrystalline substate of matter. It is like a liquid that cools without becoming crystalline. Our everyday silica glass is but one example; many substances, including metals, become glassy under the right conditions.

Physical chemists have struggled for decades to crack the true nature of glass and understand what happens at the transition to and from the glassy state. In 1995, Nobel laureate Philip Anderson called it the “deepest and most interesting unsolved problem in solid state theory.” Now, C. Austen Angell, a chemistry professor at Arizona State University believes he has translated the Rosetta Stone of glassy substances: water.

A glassy riddle: solving the mystery of water glass

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The science of setback
Angell helps solve mystery of ‘glassy’ water

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