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A yellowbar angelfish swimming past corals in the Red Sea

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WATER is essential for life as we know it, but why? A new analysis may rewrite the idea that it is solely the medium in which the reactions that drive life occur, instead viewing it as an active participant. The findings offer clues to the role that water played in the beginning of life on Earth, suggesting it may have “selected” the chemicals that now form the basis of life.

“While the importance of water in life is well known and appreciated, the involvement of water as the most reactive chemical participant in today’s …