As there was no court on Remembrance Day and as I’d already done all my errands and most of my goofing off earlier, I decided to go for a pleasure drive on The Information Super-Highway.
As is so often the case, one of my pit-stops on my Info-Web-Roadtrip was… ScienceDaily.com.
The science geeks and nerds there once again failed to disappoint!
The title hit me immediately. How could I not read an article called Weird World of Water Gets a Little Weirder?
Water sure is different. For one thing, water can exist in all three states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) at the same time. And the forces at its surface enable insects to walk on water and water to rise up from the roots into the leaves of trees and other plants.
Rather than wade slowly into the piece, I dove right in, plunging headlong into the article. (OK… No more cheesy water metaphors. I promise)
The article begins, “Strange, stranger, strangest! To the weird nature of one of the simplest chemical compounds – the stuff so familiar that even non-scientists know its chemical formula – add another odd twist. Scientists are reporting that good old H2O, when chilled below the freezing point, can shift into a new type of liquid.” 
That’s right, boys and girls… liquid water, when chilled, becomes even more liquider (liquidish? liquidy?). It turns from a liquid but then into another kind of liquid. So instead of going from a gas (steam) to a liquid (water) to a solid (ice), the transition is more like gas, liquid, another kind of liquid, then ice. Or not.
OK, it’s time to bring in the experts because I’m messing this all up.
Chemical physics research scientists Pradeep Kumar and H. Eugene Stanley (aka Stanley & Kumar), using computer simulations, found that when they chilled liquid water in said simulations, its propensity to conduct heat decreases. No surprises there. But, and here’s the really cool (no pun intended) sciency part, when they lowered the temperature to about 54 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, the liquid water started to conduct heat even better. At that temperature, the nature of liquid water undergoes sharp but continuous structural changes whereas the local structure of liquid becomes extremely ordered – very much like ice. These structural changes in liquid water lead to increase of heat conduction at lower temperatures.
In other words, the experiments suggest that at very low temperatures, water changes from one kind of liquid into an entirely different form of liquid. The evidence to support that theory is the ability of the ‘second liquid water’ to conduct heat more easily as a result of its new ordered structure. In fact, the conductivity of the super-cooled water is equal to the conductivity at the highest heat. 
The researchers say that this surprising result supports the idea that water has a liquid-to-liquid phase transition.
The practical application of this discovery is, at this time, unclear. 
 The report entitled ‘Thermal Conductivity Minimum: A New Water Anomaly‘ is published in the ACS (American Chemistry Society) Publication Journal of Physical Chemistry B.
 For you chemistry and physics wonks out there, here is the abstract:
“We investigate the thermal conductivity of liquid water using computer simulations of the TIP5P model of water. Our simulations show that, in addition to the maximum at high temperatures at constant pressure that it exhibits in experiments, the thermal conductivity also displays a minimum at low temperatures. We find that the temperature of minimum thermal conductivity in supercooled liquid water coincides with the temperature of maximum specific heat. We discuss our results in the context of structural changes in liquid water at low temperatures.”
 In other words, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out the practical applications mainly because I know nothing about physics or chemistry. But I’m pretty good at finding photos of owls being shpritzed with water.