How Water Keeps Us Alive

Biologically speaking, we’re just walking water sacs, held together by tape
4 min readMar 7, 2021


Why do people say drink more water? By all means hydrate, but have you questioned why you’re always putting this chemical in your gut? It’s really about much more than your skin or general health. It’s about the nature of life itself. Human life — life as we know it, in fact— is largely sacs of water that clambered out of the ocean and are walking the Earth. That’s basically it.

We are a cocktail of many things, but water is the mixer. It is the universal solvent. Without it we could not solve the problem of life.

What Is Life?

There are many definitions of life, all somewhat meaningless because we’re so biased. As Carl Sagan said,

Lawrence Henderson concludes that life necessarily must be based on carbon and water, and have its higher forms metabolising free oxygen. I personally find this conclusion suspect, if only because Lawrence Henderson was made of carbon and water and metabolised free oxygen. Hendersen has a vested interest. (Carl Sagan, 1973)

For our purposes I’ll go with a water based idea of life, but you could possibly make the cocktail out of liquid methane, or a gas, or even a lumbering solid. I’m not saying that this is life, just life as we know it.

One definition of life is that it’s a meta-environment. A self-contained environment within an environment. Like a terrarium. Your body, for example, simulates a watery, oceanic environment for your cells, and a bunch of microbial passengers. Ask the trillions of ancient bacteria inhabiting you and they’d be like “yeah, I know Prasanna, he carries around the ocean for us, and minds the thermostat.” It is actually debatable as to whether humans are a meaningful form of life or just a spaceship for microbes. But I digress.

How does life create this meta-environment? Duct tape. Basically duct tape. We don’t use strong chemical bonds to do stuff, we use weak non-covalent bonds. The chemical equivalent of tape. We use weak connections to make our cell walls, DNA, and proteins, the equivalent of duct tape is holding you together right now. You’re not a molecule, you’re just… Molly.



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at