..... Stumper Index
Stumper #28.
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How Good Is Your Science KQ?

[i.e. your Knowledge Quotient]

H2O
Literature, art, music and science all pay homage to the chemical compound water that covers 70% of Earth's surface, is essential for organic life on Earth and consists chemically of small molecules each comprised of two hydrogen atoms in close association with a single oxygen atom.

The word 'atom' was first used around 440 BC by the Greek Democritus in his proposal that matter is composed of tiny invisible particles. His theory was based simply upon deduction. It was not until 1803 that John Dalton based a similar theory on observation and experiment. The word 'molecule' was coined later by Amadeo Avogadro (Italy, 1776-1896) to mean clusters of atoms in a chemical compound, the word being derived from the diminutive of moles, Latin for masses. 'Atom' then came to mean the indiviual small units making up the molecule.

Early scientists believed water to be an element but in the 1780s both Henry Cavendish (England, 1731-1810) and Antoine Lavoisier (France 1743-1794) showed that a molecule of water contains hydrogen and oxygen and believed the chemical formula to be HO. The fact that a water molecule consists of three atoms, two of hydrogen and one of oxygen (H2O) was not known until some twenty years later.

But the seemingly simple molecule of water may sometimes (but very rarely) have an unexpected characteristic due to the presence of a 'different' type of hydrogen atom. A 'normal' hydrogen atom has a nucleus consisting of a single proton, but some hydrogen atoms on Earth share a characteristic found more commonly in comets of our solar system--there is a neutron at the core in addition to the proton.

So, the stumper questions:

a) In what discernible way does a molecule of water based on this 'different' hydrogen atom (with both a proton and a neutron in its nucleus) differ from a 'normal' water molecule?
b) What name is given to the 'different' hydrogen atom?

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