Stories tagged saltwater

Nov
09
2009

Floating Free on the Dead Sea
Floating Free on the Dead SeaCourtesy Courtesy of Ranveig at Wikimedia Commons
In anticipation for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota, I found myself wondering, why do we call it the Dead Sea? The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth and one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, 6 to 10 times saltier than the Atlantic Ocean. Because the salt creates such a harsh living environment, the only organisms that will survive in the Dead Sea are bacteria and algae. Any fish that accidentally swims into the Dead Sea from one of the freshwater streams that feed it, like the Jordan River, would die instantly!

The sea is so salty because of evaporation. The high temperatures and low humidity in the region cause the water in the sea to evaporate very quickly, leaving behind all the dissolved mineral salts. Some salts sink to the bottom and some wash ashore leaving a salty crusty beach.
Dead Sea Salt Beach
Dead Sea Salt BeachCourtesy Courtesy of Isewell at WikiMedia Commons

Because of the high concentration of mineral salts in the Dead Sea, the water is more dense than both freshwater and the human body. This means that our bodies become buoyant, like a cork, and we can easily float on it. When you take a dip in the Dead Sea you can actually kick back and read a book like floating on a raft. In fact, it is hard to actually “swim” in the sea.
Dead Sea Salt
Dead Sea SaltCourtesy Courtesy of Xtall at WikiMedia Commons

The Dead Sea has been a tourist attraction since the time of Herod the Great in the 1st Century BCE. The Dead Sea isn’t just a novelty for “fun while floating” but the mineral salts have been used in Egyptian mummification, in agricultural fertilizers and even in modern day cosmetics. Check out these links to learn more about Dead Sea geography, how it was formed, how it is used by humans, and some of the issues it faces today.

http://www.extremescience.com/DeadSea.htm
http://www.wysinfo.com/Dead_Sea/dead_sea_overview.html

John Kanzius discovered that salt water when bombarded with radio waves burns. You can learn more and see salt water burn in this video(You Tube).