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Time to take a big ol’ sip of science knowledge as we dive deep on that good, wet stuff we call water! Head to to see some great pictures from Ceri’s Fact Off fact, and to find out how you can help support SciShow Tangents, and see all the cool perks you’ll get in return, like bonus episodes and a monthly newsletter!A big thank you to Patreon subscribers Eclectic Bunny and Garth Riley for helping to make the show possible!Follow us on Twitter @SciShowTangents, where we’ll tweet out topics for upcoming episodes and you can ask the science couch questions! While you're at it, check out the Tangents crew on Twitter: Ceri: @ceriley Sam: @slamschultz Hank: @hankgreen[Fact Off]Wet water (to fight fires) to air communication[Ask the Science Couch]Water conducting electricity[Butt One More Thing]Hippo poop water 
[SciShow Tangents Intro theme music plays]

Hank: Hello and welcome to SciShow Tangents, the lightly competitive science knowledge showcase! I'm your host Hank Green, and joining me this week, as always, is our science expert, Ceri Riley.

Ceri: Hello!

Hank: And our resident everyman, Sam Schultz.

Sam: What's up!

Hank: Everybody in the room knows that I got everyone together so that they could watch me... write an email in a panic.

[Ceri and Sam laugh]

Sam: Yeah.

Ceri: We get, uh, it's like a private Hankschannel livestream productivity stream, except we've already done our work. And we're just watching you do yours.

[Hank and Sam laugh]

Hank: It was a little bit understood because the person I was emailing, who desperately needed the email, is Sam's partner, Rachel, who works at DFTBA.

Sam: That's just the way you're justifying it to yourself, though. [Laughs]

Hank: Yeah, because that way it was, like, at least one person aside from me is going to benefit from me sending this email. Though I'm sure as soon as this podcast ends, Rachel will be like, "I cannot believe what Hank did to me today..."

Sam: Eh, probably.

Hank: " create a bunch of extra work when I have been working so hard to not have extra work." Ohhhhh, it's my fault. But it's more past!me's fault than current!me's fault.

Sam: Isn't it always though?

Hank: Isn't it always?

Sam: Yeah...

Hank: I feel like past me is, like, the ultimate—he's got... he's just like full of power moves.

Sam: Yeah.

Hank: Where he was like, "Oh, you didn't want to do that? Well, you have to. 'Cause I didn't."

[Ceri and Sam laugh]

Ceri: Past!me is also, uh, over ambitious, I think? Like, thinks too highly of future!me. Future!me is just kind of regular. Just kind of okay. But past!me is like, "Oh, you got this. You can wake up early for the first time in your life and do all that homework."

[Hank and Sam laugh]

Hank: How is your past self, Sam?

Sam: Awful! I have been trying to wake up early for like two years. How do you do it? Do you have any tips?

Hank: Oh, me!? I've got—this'll kill it. There's no way... If you do this one thing, you will absolutely wake up early every day.

Sam: Oh no... I know what you're gonna say.

Hank: All you have to do is have a child.

Sam: Nooooooo.

[Ceri and Sam laugh in a "we knew this was coming" way].

Sam: Okay.

Hank: Yeah, no. It's the only thing that ever worked for me, but I get up every morning at seven o'clock. And today I got up and my son was yelling, "Help!" Which wasn't great. "Help. Helllp! Helllllp!" And I ran into his room and I was like—you guys are going to think this is funny, but it's not—I was like, "What's wrong?"And he's like, "My tummy hurts!" And then he puked a bunch.

Sam: Oh no...

Hank: So. He needed actual help, and it was very sad. and he's been pathetic all day long. There it is! That's the reason I didn't send the email until SciShow Tangents time. 'Cause I have a sick child. I'll blame him!

Sam: All is forgiven.

Hank: [Laughs] Every week here on SciShow Tangents, we get together to try to one-up, amaze, and delight each other with science facts while also trying to stay on topic. And I got some doozies today. Our panelists are playing for glory, but they're also playing for Hank Bucks, which I will be awarding as we play. And at the end of the episode, one of them will be crowned the winner. Now, as always, we introduce this week's topic with the traditional science poem... this week from Sam.

[Science Poem theme music plays behind Hank saying "traditional science poem"]

Sam: Step right up and rest your peepers on a liquid that'll make you say jeepers! It may look plain and unassumin', but what if I told you it could get your plants abloomin'? And that's not all... You ever had a thirst? I tell ya friends, ain't that the worst. Your mouth's all dry, your spit is sticky, but this potion will fix you in a jiffy! It goes great in soups, from chowder to bisque, you can drink it hot or have it brisk. Is that all it does? Why, don't be a fool! Heck, you can use it to fill your pool! Too runny, you say? Well, here's a trick... put it somewhere cold, it gets hard as a brick! Or maybe gas is more your scene. Simply give it a boil, and now you've got steam! Most amazing of all, and I'm not telling you fibs, all living life needs this stuff to live. It's everywhere from the sky to your cells, from the tip of your tongue, to the bottom o' wells. What's this miracle substance, you all want to know? The stuff that is made with two H and an O? Well pay attention and go with the flow. It's hydratin', condensatin', par-cipitatin',and evaporatin'... WATER.

[Ceri and Hank laugh and clap in delight]

Hank: Ha-haaaaa! That one's goin' in the book! Oh my God! I loved—[laughs]

Ceri: I like carnival-barker!Sam!

Hank & Sam: Yeah!

Ceri: He's a real "everyman" kind of guy.

Sam: I can't talk loud enough to be a carnival barker, but I would love to be able to. I need one of those megaphones, I guess.

Hank: Uh-huh. Or just a filter. Tuna can do it.

Sam: [Laughs] Okay, cool.

Hank: Our word for the day, children... is water. Uh, which is.. which is.. which is one of the very best liquids. Also one of the only ones, if we're going to look around, uh, at standard temperature and pressure anyway. Uh, but maybe the best. I'm just going to say it! It's the best liquid!

Sam: Well, once you get past water, you're into, like, molten metals and stuff. Right? That's not very good.

Ceri: Yeah, or like oil. That's a liquid.

Hank: Oil, alcohol, gasoline.

Sam: Oh, alcohol.

Hank: There's not very many, but there are some. But yeah, oils are great. Olive oil, great liquid—not as good as water. Would give up olive oil before I gave up water.

Sam: You'd have to, or you'd die. [Laughs]

Hank: Ceri, what is water?

Ceri: I mean, Sam's spiel really covered it. He was the salesman for water.

Hank: Yeah. Well the great thing about water is that it is clear what it is. There is a hard line there. That's why I love chemistry.

Ceri: Yeah, water is the name for the liquid phase of H2O molecules. I think, like, technically you can use it to apply to ice, which is solid water, and steam, which is water vapor. So, like, water is a component of those names as well. But usually if you say, "Give me some water!" You don't want, like, a block of ice or you don't want some steam blasted in your face. You want—you want the liquid stuff!

Hank: Yeah. I guess you have found a fuzzy spot, which is that water, technically can be any of those three phases. But usually when we say water, we are asking for the stuff that we could take a bath in.

Sam: Do those two things have a different chemical formula?

Ceri: No, They're all made of molecules of H2O. So one oxygen with two hydrogens sticking off of it. It's just how close those molecules are spaced together.

Hank: Yeah, how they're interacting with each other.

Ceri: Yeah.

Hank: So, like, in a gas, they basically aren't—they don't have any bonds between them. In a solid, they have many very rigid bonds between them. And in a liquid, they have sort of like wibbly bonds between them.

Sam: Ah, okay.

Ceri: It's how close they're partying with each other basically.

Hank: Yeah, how many kisses they get! Molecule... is all kisses.

[Everyone laughs]

Hank: We can't say ice water, because that's a thing! That's water with ice in it. Water ice—that's what it's called. Water ice is just water molecules that never stop kissing.

Sam: Ohhh, that's cute.

Hank: And—but they're kissin' lots of different water molecules. They each kiss, a bunch of each other.

Sam: Well, that's okay.

Hank: At the same time. 'Cause they have more than one mouth. [laughs]

Sam: Ew. That's less okay.

Hank: They each have, like, three mouths, so they can—they can do some fun kissing.

Ceri: I think oxygen does have four bonding orbitals, but...

Hank: Yeah, 'cause it's the orbitals. It isn't just oxygen...

Ceri: Two orbitals, and then the two hydrogens. Yeah. So it's four and two mouths are invisible! [Laughs]

Sam: Okay, well now it all makes sense to me.

Hank: There's kind of an in mouth and an out mouth too. There's like—you can't have two of the same mouths kissing.

Ceri: And really the mouths are just kind of like the idea of a mouth distributed across [laughs] the general region outside of the—the molecule. There isn't, like, a solid mouth.

Hank: Yeah, it's also important to note that, like, any individual mouth exists in a probability field that could stretch as far as the entire universe, but it's just a very low probability once you get more than like a fraction of angstrom.

Sam: [Pained] Ohhhh... okay.

Ceri: Doesn't that clear it up, Sam?

[Hank laughs]

Sam: As quantum kisses stretched across all of reality? Is that what you're saying?

Ceri & Hank: Yeah!

Sam: Okay.

Hank: Okay. So, Ceri, I imagine that the etymology of water, goes back as long as... human time.

Ceri: Yeah. It's—it's water all the way down of... As far as words go, we've identified things as "water" or "wet." And so I decided to bring some other words that are related to water that might be fun. Like whiskey, which is "water of life" from old Irish. Or vodka, which a lot of people know or have—have joked, that in Russian vodka just means water. But it does mean "little water". It's a diminutive of "voda," which is water.

Sam: Ahh, okay.

Hank: Vodka, my little water. [Laughs]

Ceri: And then, my surprising word that's not alcohol-related is redundant is related to water.

Hank & Sam: What??

Ceri: Which means, as opposed to like happening over and over again, like superfluous. So exceeding what is—what is necessary. That meaning of redundant comes from "to overflow or pour over," which comes from undare and re-, which is like again. So, like, "a rise in waves again." And so it's just like, "Ah, the waves got too big... again. And they flowed over." And that's, uh, like a very weird word to come from water.

Sam: Yeah.

Hank: Yeah, no, I don't hear it in there. God bless it. We need that wet stuff. And now that means that it's time for us to move on to the quiz portion of our show. This week we're going to be playing... Truth or Fail.

[Truth or Fail theme music plays]

Hank: All right. Um, so, I have three facts for you—this is how Truth or Fail works—but only one of those facts is true. And this Truth or Fail is about water, but a specific kind of water. Because we were talking about how water is H2O, but there's different kinds of Hs. So I'm not talking about, like, a vitamin water or alkali water or whatever special new health water there is. This is a water that is actually chemically different, because instead of two hydrogens and one oxygen, it has two deuteriums and one oxygen. And deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen, so chemically, it behaves very similar—just one proton and one electron. But deuterium also has a neutron, which a normal hydrogen doesn't have. So because of that extra neutron, deuterium weighs roughly twice as much as normal hydrogen, so water made with deuterium is literally heavier. So it is called heavy water. Now, heavy water is useful in all kinds of physical applications, but biologically it's kind of dangerous. It acts a lot like water, so it is uptaken into our body just like water, but it's not exactly water, so it can just kinda mess with stuff. Which of these three ways can, uh, heavy water mess up a living organism? Are you ready?

Sam: I think so...

Ceri: Sure!

Hank: Fact number one: heavy water makes you have to pee a lot. Because deuterium forms stronger hydrogen bonds, your kidneys filter out more of it on every pass, so you need to drink more heavy water to stay hydrated. There's also some thought that having a literally heavier water in your bladder could make you feel like you have to pee more than you actually do.

Sam: Makes sense.

Hank: Or it might be fact number two: Bacteria grown in heavy water are able to survive just fine, but as all their normal hydrogen gets replaced with deuterium, something very strange happens. Their flagella stop working, which would be a death sentence, but then they begin to rotate the other way, which has no effect on their survival. It's just really weird. Or fact number three could be the true fact: Scientists have given heavy water to a bunch of different organisms over the years. And one of the most consistent effects from hamsters to fruit flies to houseplants is that it slows their circadian cycle, lengthening their day. Heavy water appears to just slow all biochemical reactions, so the body's clock on heavy water just ticks a little more slowly. So. Which is it—is it fact number one, it makes you have to pee; fact number two, it makes bacteria's flagella go the opposite direction; or fact number three, it makes your body clock tick more slowly?

Ceri: This is interesting. I've never thought about drinking heavy—like, I've—I've known about heavy water's existence, but I think this is how you can tell I'm, like, a science nerd and not a normal person. 'Cause I've never posed the question like, "Oh, what if you just drank a bottle of heavy water?"

Hank: Yeah. There's some YouTube videos of people drinking heavy water, which is a bad idea. You can have a certain amount of it, but it does eventually have some clear negative consequences.

Sam: Oh boy. Okay. Have to pee, make the guys propellers go backwards, or...what was...? Make your day shorter? Make your day LONGER.

Hank: Makes your day longer. It makes your body think your—the day is longer than it actually is.

Sam: That seems like something somebody would have tricked people into thinking was a health thing somehow. Right, maybe?

Hank: [Laughs] Yeah. Drink heavy water, you never have to sleep again. Also you move...

Ceri: Productivity water!

Sam: Uhh, Ceri, do you have any thoughts on this?

Ceri: Not really. 'Cause I don't know enough. Uh, so the circadian rhythm one feels true-ish because so much signaling, like, chemical signaling is involved in circadian rhythms. And because water is basically,, its key role in your body is as a solvent. It, like, dissolves other things into it. It, like, lets your blood carry so many different things because your blood is watery. Um, and lets your things move around your cell because they're just like moving around in an aqueous environment. And so it would make sense that the hormones that control your circadian rhythm would move differently if that solvent were different. And same goes for the flagella? Except I don't know how it would affect—like, that feels like it would be very weird because it would affect motor control in some way. And I feel like as we—like, I can't think of a single thing that goes backwards in biology. [Laughs]

Hank: Yeah, but bacteria flagella are very weird. They spin.

Sam: How does motor control work in something that teeny? Wouldn't it just be, like, some kind of chemical and— exchanging in a...?

Hank: It's... I mean, a—a bacteria flagella is basically a stick that sticks into a wheel, and the wheel spins. Then the flagella spins around in the—in the water. Pushes you around.

Sam: That seems quite plausible to me.

[Hank giggles]

Ceri: The pee one feels like it wants us to choose it. So—which is making me very much not want to pick it, like...

Hank: Oh ho! Why do you think it wants you to choose it?

Sam: Because it's heavy and it sits in your bladder... heavier makes you have to pee more?

Ceri: Yeah.

Sam: That sounds too good to be true.

[Ceri and Hank laugh]

Ceri: It sounds also too obvious. It feels like a punchline. Like, "What happens if you drink heavy water? Oh, you pee more!" And it's like, "good job five-year-old, you came up with a good joke."

Hank: [Laughs] Right, right, right.

Sam: Not that—really that good of a joke, but... [Laughs]

Ceri: I guess I'm gonna guess circadian rhythms, but not for any particular reason. It just feels more correct.

Sam: Hmm. I think I'm gonna go with the flagella one 'cause it seems nice and clean.

Hank: Nice and clean... just like how you feel after you drink a bunch of heavy water, 'cause it makes you pee so—no, not actually. That one was fake [Laughs].

Ceri: [Relieved] Ooh, I was gonna be SO MAD.

Hank: I made that one up completely because it seemed like if there was heavier water in your bladder, you might have to pee more. So you—you were exactly right. Well done on your reasoning. So one of you is correct, and which one is it? It's Ceri!

Ceri: Yesss!

Sam: [Groans] That's so weird!

Hank: Yeah, it is super weird. And it is—it is a well-understood effect that... well it's a well proven-out effect. It's not super well understood. It just seems like all chemical processes happen more slowly. Because it isn't just the water, like, the water's deuterium gets incorporated into the rest of the chemistry of the organism. So, like, that—those hydrogens start moving around and they end up inside of the—all of the different chemicals and those things just... it just goes slow. Everything gets gummed up. And that seems to happen, like, universally in life. If you have deuterium, your body moves more slowly. And this isn't the only problem, like, as the level of, uh, deuterium increases, like, you end up with all kinds of bad stuff. Basically your organs fail, um, but you're like—at lower levels, this is one of the first effects and you can see it pretty clearly. And uh..

Sam: Do people act, like, do you actually move slower?

Hank: I don't think that they have noticed that the movement of the organism is more slow, but, like, maybe. Like, it's—it's certainly possible that, like, muscles would fatigue more quickly as you're consuming something that does eventually lead to organ failure.

Sam: Sure.

Hank: Seems like a thing that would happen.

Sam: That makes sense.

Hank: And then as far as the bacteria goes, I found something out that was fascinating, which is that, like... Unlike large organisms, bacteria can—you could stick them in 100% heavy water and they'll just, like, work it out.

Sam: They don't care.

Hank: And, like, all of their hydrogens will eventually be replaced with deuteriums and they'll just be fine.

Sam: What?! Weird little guys.

Ceri: Weird.

Hank: All right. We're headed into the break with Ceri at one point and Sam with zero. After this, it'll be time for the Fact Off.

[A transitional snippet of the SciShow Tangents Intro theme music plays]

Hank: Welcome back, everybody! It's time for the Fact Off.

[Fact Off theme music plays]

Hank: Our panelists have brought in science facts to present to me in an attempt to blow my mind. After they have presented their facts, I will judge them and—harshly, and award them Hank Bucks anyway I see fit. To decide who goes first, though, I have a trivia question: When tardigrades were first described by a German zoologist in 1773, he called them kleiner Wasserbär, or in English, "little water bear." And while they frequently live in water, different species of these little water bears have been found in every type of habitat on Earth. How many different species of tardigrades have been described by science?

Sam: Oh, this feels like a trick.

Hank: Does it?

Sam: [Pained, but freaking going for it.] One. Is there one?!

Hank: Sam's gonna go with one.

Sam: It's just the one guy.

Ceri: I'm going to go with... 10.

[Sam laughs]

Hank: Well, Ceri was always going to win that one because you gone with two and still won. There are about 1300.

Ceri: Oh my gosh!

Sam: Aw, man. That's way more than one.

[Ceri and Hank laugh]

Hank: And that means that Ceri gets to choose who goes first.

Ceri: So I will go first with my very sad guess of 10. [Laughs] So when humans have to put out a fire in many, but not all, situations, we generally put water on it. Uh, it's what Pokemon teaches you: fire is weak to water. But the real life chemistry is pretty interesting too. To create a combustion reaction, fires need fuel, oxygen, and heat. So to stop this reaction, you need to deprive it of one or more of these things. And water is great at this! When you spray water on a fire, it cools down the system—the water droplets basically steal the heat and evaporate, lowering the temperature of the burning reaction, kind of like sweat evaporating off your skin. And water is pretty good at coating things, so it covers the fuel and prevents it from getting oxygen, keeping the components apart so they can't react—kind of like throwing dirt on a fire to smother it. And water is nicer than dirt because it's easier to pump a liquid than to move around a solid like dirt. But with some fires, the problem is: water is only pretty good at coating things. That's because water molecules make really strong bonds with other water molecules. So liquid water has a high surface tension. This is why it beads up into droplets or water insects can skate on top of it. And so instead of spreading far and wide over the fuel to smother it, plain old water could still clump up into bigger droplets, especially on fuels that have a lot of airspace in them like wood or hay or forest floor junk. So that's why firefighters may use what's called wet water...

Hank: Ooh!

Ceri: Instead of normal water.

Hank: Wet water!

Sam: [Laughs] Okay...

Ceri: Um, and wet water has chemicals mixed in called wetting agents, which interfere with the bonding between the water molecules a bit and decrease the surface tension. This makes the water spread out more easily and seep in more deeply, rather than forming big droplets. And a 2017 study found that some wet water formulas seeped into loose rotting wood up to 68 times faster than normal water. And it's not like we've figured out the magical formula for the best or wettest water, uh, so this is an active area of research in putting out wildfires, figuring out how to get wet water that will put out fires on different kinds of vegetation the best.

Hank: Wet waterrrr!! Sam, you're up against wet water right now. This is great!

Sam: Can I drink it? It sounds quench-y and delicious.

Ceri: [Laughs] It would quench your insides, but I—my guess is the surfactants inside would be not good for your digestive system.

Sam: Maybe give you a bit of diarrhea, huh?

Hank: Right? So these chemicals are probably not super different from just, like, soap.

Ceri: Yeah, I don't think so. I think they're fairly simple chemicals and like, not—not a whole lot of them too. It seems like the percentages that they put into water are—it's like pretty dilute, but it has a huge effect on how big the droplets are that form.

Sam: Ah, okay. Well. I won't be drinking it then.

Ceri: Yeah. You can look at wet water, but don't drink wet water.

[Sam laughs]

Hank: So do you know, like, sort of... Some of the mechanism of how you prevent water from clumping to itself? So, like, surfactants in my sort of, like, vague chemistry understanding basically have sort of a polar end and a non-polar end. And so, like, the polar end hangs out with the water and then the other end is, like, "No, you can't because I'm non-polar!" So you don't—it doesn't allow the water to sort of, like, hang out with one end of the water. Sort of, like, gets in between.

Ceri: I think that is my understanding of how these wetting agents work as well. They, like, provide physical-slash-chemical barriers to prevent the water molecules from getting close to each other and bonding, so that they can't have that strong of an interaction.

Hank: Yeah. There's less kissing!

Ceri: Yeah! [Laughs]

Hank: They're like the chaperone at the—at the water dance.

[Hank and Sam laugh]

Hank: All right, Sam, we got wet water. What do you got?

Sam: All right, all right. So submarines are renowned for their ability to be underwater. And airplanes are, of course, the exact opposite of submarines, known for their ability to fly around in the air. So at that in mind, let's say that a airplane fell in love with a submarine and it wanted to stay in touch while one was in the air and the other was underwater. With our current technology, that love would be star-crossed big time because it's basically impossible to perform wireless underwater-to-air communication, and underwater-to-land communication ain't that easy either if you're wireless. So a sub and a car would also be doomed, they would not be in love either. Uh, and that's because of the very different properties of air and water and the methods that we use to send info across those mediums. So radio waves don't make it very deep into water before fading away, I guess, 'cause water's so thick compared to air probably. And wireless signals sent from underwater devices mostly just bounce off, like, the underside of the surface of the water and back down into the briny depths before they can escape. And obviously this is not ideal for things like military submarines that want to stay hidden because they have to come very close to the surface to talk to the above-water world. But it can also be pretty annoying for researchers. Like, you can transmit data acoustically from a research sub to a boat, but the boat's gotta be pretty close to the drone in order to receive the data and the rate of transfer isn't so hot, so that's bad. But also like if you have a drone out in the ocean and you're in a building, you can't really talk to it or anything like that. So it just slows everything down. Uh, but a team at MIT is working on a way to finally bring a plane and sub together. They created a system called acoustic-RF communication, or TARF for short, that uses the air-water media mismatch, to its advantage. So it all starts with what's pretty much an underwater speaker attached to your drone or your submarine or your scuba diver or whatever has the data collecting device. It translates the ones and zeros of data into pulses of sound and shoots those sounds toward the surface of the water. And when the pulse of sound hits the surface, it makes teeny tiny ripples that are just a few micrometers in height. So on the surface, you have a high frequency radar that's either attached to a plane or directed at the surface of the water from the land, um, and it can see these pulses. And it's also sensitive enough to detect the minor differences in the height and angle made by different frequencies. So like if this thing was shooting 100 Hertz sounds for zeros and 200 Hertz sounds for one, it can pick up, like, the couple micrometer difference between those two types of ripples and then translate that data back into ones and zeros. So it's just all happening right on the surface of the water. Uh, so right now this is mostly just useful in relatively calm waters with waves up to only 16 centimeters high. So... Maybe not the best yet. Uh, but it's been tested in situations where there's, like, people swimming around in the way of it and, like, drones zippin' around in the way of the pulses being shot out, and it still worked fine. So it's semi-promising. Uh, so this technology could speed up the rate of data collection in underwater research, increase the range of underwater to above-water communication, keep military submarines safe (if you're into that kind of thing), and it could help lovelorn planes and submarines finally connect with each other.

[Ceri and Hank laugh]

Hank: So, I mean—I guess this is a really big problem and it makes sense that people would be thinking hard about how to solve it. But that seems like a big ask.

Sam: Yeah.

Hank: Waves. Like, there's gonna be—It's the ocean!

Sam: Yeah... that's a problem. So I don't know what they're going to do about that. Maybe make bigger ripples, I guess, but—but then maybe if your submarine's making big ripples, then the other army or whatever is going to be like, "Hey, what the hell is that?"

Hank: I mean, in general, I think you just get quiet if the other army is—or Navy, I guess, in this situation.

Sam: Well, okay. [Laughs] So, like, sometimes you'll see submarines with livestream video, but I don't know how they do that. I definitely found a few instances of submarines livestreaming, but not very many. And I couldn't figure out how the heck they were doing it.

Hank: Yeah, no, you're right. There's that YouTube channel that's like all livestream... there must be a wire that just goes all the way to the surface. 'Cause that's like a science vessel, it's not like they're trying to hide.

Sam: Right. So yeah, they can do stuff like that, but it just didn't occur to me that you couldn't just shoot wirelessly your data to the boat, basically.

Hank: Yeah. It wouldn't have occurred to me either. Especially that barrier where you—like way that wireless communication works is that you're transmitting through a roughly homogenous medium. And when that is, like, suddenly there's this barrier where it's just a complete difference from one to the other. It's just amazing that they could solve that problem at all. All right. So here's how I'm thinking about judging these. I don't—I've never said this out loud, which one of these would I make a TikTok about?

Sam: Oh my gosh, this is illegal.

[Ceri laughs]

Hank: So I... I think that the one that I would most—be most likely to make into a TikTok is wet water.

Sam: Aw, come on!

Hank: Cause it's got fire, which we're—a problem we're dealing with now. I get to say,"Did you know that water can be wetter than water?" And people will be like, "What? Is he? Man... Hank... uh... I guess I'll watch it."

Sam: [In a singsongy voice] Hank's on his shit again!

Hank: [Mumbling] Hank's on his shit—exactly.

Sam: Well, this is a fun new metric to think of my facts by. Just being a content machine for Hank Green Incorporated. I love it.

[Ceri laughs].

Hank: Congratulations, Ceri on your win! And that means that it's time to Ask the Science Couch, where we've got some questions for our virtual couch of finely honed scientific minds.

[Ask the Science Couch theme music plays]

Hank: @crystalar99 says, "Why does water conduct electricity so well?" Ceri, I don't know if I'm going to make a fool of myself—out of myself right now, but does it??

Ceri: Pure—so pure water doesn't.

Hank: Yeah. There's not a lot of—there's no ions, there's no shared electrons. The things that—that—that do a very good job of conducting electricity. Basically, instead of having, like, electrons around the atoms, just sort of, like, share them in a soup, which is what metals do and that's why they're shiny and it's why they're good conductors of heat and electricity. But water... I don't see why it would conduct electricity well, unless there's a bunch of ions in it.

Ceri: Yeah. So—so that's the tricky thing about this question. It's, like... is it? Kind of! But, like, we've been talking about water, like, the water molecules (H2O) are polar, so there's a positively charged end and a negatively charged end, but in liquid water form, those charges balance each other out. So they're basically neutral. And so that's in, like, distilled water or deionized water, which you can process in various ways either, like, condensing it from steam or pushing it through a semipermeable membrane to remove all the impurities. Like, this stuff takes a lot of effort to generate because water is such a good solvent. It's known as the universal solvent because it's so good at dissolving other things. So there's almost always stuff floating in water. If you, like, run it out of your bath,tub or out of your sink or even out of your Brita water filter, like, there's—there's stuff in there.

Hank: Yeah. There's still going to be stuff... ions in there, yeah.

Sam: Enough to make it conduct electricity well?

Ceri: Mhmm.

Hank: Yeah, not—Well, it wouldn't be, like, a good insulator. Like, I wouldn't want to be in it with a toaster, you know?

Sam: Oh boy. Yeah.

Ceri: Yeah, that's why it's like, "Do not drop your hairdryer into the bathtub." for example. Because, like, that water is good enough at conducting, because there's just so much other stuff in it, like the ions that we were talking about, minerals, just all kinds of stuff.

Hank: Yeah, and let me go ahead and shout this out: don't take a bath in deionized water and think, "I can put my hairdryer in it now, because Hank Green told me!" NO. There's still—Your body will introduce ions. And even if it's perfectly deionized, I still don't trust it. It'll jump across the surface and get ya. Electricity is dangerous,

Ceri: Electricity, very dangerous. Especially, like... I'm going to be a little hand-wavy around the electricity part for reasons mentioned in past episodes... mostly that I'm not a physicist. But, like, any sort of moving of charged particles is what's creating the electric current. And so, like, ions moving in the water creates an electric current, or when lightning strikes a lake and there's electricity flowing when there's—there's charge flowing throughout it, then that's creating an electric current, which is very bad for your body because so much of it is electrical. Your muscles, and your brain, and—and, like, you depend on the electric current and so many other living organisms do. Don't take a bath and drop a toaster in deionized water. Also take cover if you're in a lightning storm or whatever. So, like, all these asterisks. Protect yourself! But depending on the amount of stuff in the water, it can actually be safer for you to be in, like, salty seawater than freshwater during a lightning storm for example, because there are so many ions in the water and saltwater conducts electricity so well that the electric current sticks to the easiest path. Like, it is harder for it to go through the human body, and so it'll go around you. Don't do it. That's the thing is—it's like electricity will always go by the easiest path. And oftentimes human bodies are a fairly easy path for it to go through. But in a very ion rich solution, you might not be.

Hank: You might—That's interesting! But in any case, don't be out on the water when it's lightning-ing. Immediately come in. Even if it seems like it's far away. Public service announcement from the team at SciShow Tangents, mostly trying to not get sued. If you want to Ask the Science Couch your question, you can follow us on Twitter @SciShowTangents, where we will tweet out the topics for upcoming episodes every week. Thank you to @devinparham, @bikecommuter, and everybody else who tweeted us your questions for this episode.

[SciShow Tangents Outro theme music plays under Hank speaking]

Hank: If you like this show and you want to help us out, super easy to do that! First, you can go to to become a patron and get access to things like our newsletter and our bonus episodes. Second, you can leave us a review wherever you listen—that's super helpful and it helps us know what you like about the show. And finally, if you want to show your love for SciShow Tangents, just...

Ceri, Hank, & Sam: Tell people about us!

Hank: Thank you for joining us. I've been Hank Green...

Ceri: I've been Ceri Riley...

Sam: And I've been Sam Schultz.

Hank: SciShow Tangents is created by all of us and produced by Caitlin Hofmeister and Sam Schultz who edits a lot of these episodes along with Hiroka Matsushima. Our social media organizer is Paola Garcia-Prieto. Our editorial assistant is Deboki Chakravarti. Our sound design is by Joseph "Tuna" Metesh. And we couldn't make any of this without our patrons on Patreon. Thank you, and remember: "the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted."

[SciShow Tangents Outro theme music]

Ceri: But! One more thing.

[Butt One More Thing theme music plays: a synthetic buzz that sounds like a record scratch, punctuated by a little cute fart noise.]

Ceri: In the Mara river in East Africa, sometimes hundreds or thousands of fish die all at once. And according to a 2018 research paper, these mass deaths are because of hippo poop.

Sam: Oh no.

Ceri: During the day hippos hang out in rivers to stay cool and take care of all their waste dumping needs. This poop is an all-you-can-eat buffet for aerobic bacteria who use oxygen to help them digest. But when this oxygen poor water flows downstream, like during heavy rains, it engulfs any fish and starves them of oxygen. So they can't breathe and die. Basically drowning in poop water.

Sam: Nooooo.

Hank: There's no good ways to go, but eughhhh. [Yuck-o noise]

Ceri: Yeah, drowning of asphyxiation in poop water, low down on my list.