Friday, October 29, 2021

Episode 601 (10-31-21): Halloween, Water, and the Human Body

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:53).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 10-29-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for Halloween 2021.  Besides focusing on autumn’s festival of fun and fright, this episode is part of a series this fall about water connections to the human body and human biology.

SOUND – ~9 sec

That eerie sound of a tree creaking in October wind sets a seasonal stage for a Halloween challenge: exploring how Halloween, water, and human biology all connect.  Sound like quite a trick?  Well, have a listen to some Halloween music for about 50 seconds, and then we’ll treat you to some examples.

MUSIC - ~50 sec – instrumental

You’ve been listening to “A Little Fright Music,” by Torrin Hallett, a graduate student at the Yale School of Music.  And here are six matches of Halloween creatures or images with water in the human body.

1.  Skeleton images rattle around everywhere for Halloween, and in living skeletons water is a significant component of bones and cartilage. 

2.  Pretend blood covers many-a Halloween costume, and over half of the volume of blood is plasma, which in turn is over 90 percent water, and water is also a major component of blood cells.

3.  A muscular costume is part of pretending to be a super-strong character like Wonder Woman or Superman; and water plays a significant role in muscle structure and function; in turn, muscle is an important water-storage area for the body.

4.  The monster in movie versions of “Frankenstein” was brought to life by electricity, and the cells of our nervous system transmit messages though electrochemical impulses, using sodium and potassium ions in a water-based solution.

5.  If fiery or icy creatures need some temperature regulation, water’s the body fluid that does it.

And 6.  Flashing and watching from many creatures on Halloween night are eyes, either scary, suspenseful, or super-powered; and eyes have chambers containing aqueous humor and vitreous humour, two fluids that consist mostly of water and that maintain the shape of the eyes.

This Halloween, imagine being a creature that’s about 60 percent composed of an amazing substance with unique powers to dissolve other substances, absorb and release heat, and withstand being compressed.  What would you be?  Why, the water-based human being that you are!

Thanks to Torrin Hallett for composing this week’s music for Virginia Water Radio, and we close with another listen to the last few seconds of “A Little Fright Music.”

MUSIC - ~13 sec – instrumental


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The wind and creaking tree sounds were recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on October 5, 2014. 

“A Little Fright Music” is copyright 2020 by Torrin Hallett, used with permission.  Torrin is a 2018 graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio; a 2020 graduate in Horn Performance from Manhattan School of Music in New York; and a 2021 graduate of the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.  He is currently a graduate student at the Yale School of Music.  More information about Torrin is available online at  Thanks very much to Torrin for composing the piece especially for Virginia Water Radio.  This music was previously used in Episode 548, 10-26-20.

Following are other music pieces composed by Torrin Hallett for Virginia Water Radio, with episodes featuring the music.
“Beetle Ballet” – used in Episode 525, 5-18-20, on aquatic beetles.
“Chesapeake Bay Ballad” – used in Episode 537, 8-10-20, on conditions in the Chesapeake Bay.
“Corona Cue” – used in Episode 517, 3-23-20, on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Flow Stopper – used in Episode 599, 10-28-21, on the “Imagine a Day Without Water” campaign.
“Geese Piece” – used most recently in Episode 440, 10-1-18, on E-bird.
“Ice Dance” – used in Episode 556, 12-21-20, on how organisms survive freezing temperatures.
“Lizard Lied” – used in Episode 514, 3-2-20, on lizards.
“New Year’s Water” – used in Episode 349, 1-2-17, on the New Year.
“Rain Refrain” – used most recently Episode 559, 1-11-21, on record rainfall in 2020.
“Runoff” – in Episode 585, 7-12-21 – on middle-school students calling out stormwater-related water words.
“Spider Strike” – used in Episode 523, 5-4-20, on fishing spiders.
“Tropical Tantrum” – used most recently in Episode 580, 6-7-21, on the 2021 Atlantic tropical storm season preview.
“Tundra Swan Song
– used in Episode 554, 12-7-20, on Tundra Swans.
“Turkey Tune” – used in Episode 343, 11-21-16, on the Wild Turkey. 

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Water uses in the human body.  Illustration from the U.S. Geological Survey, “The Water in You: Water and the Human Body,”


Used for Audio

Peter Abrahams, ed., How the Body Works: A Comprehensive, Illustrated Encyclopedia of Anatomy, Metro Books, New York, 2007.

American Red Cross, “Blood Components,” online at

Erin Blakemore, “How Twitching Frog Legs Helped Inspire ‘Frankenstein,’” Smithsonian Magazine, December 4, 2015, online at

Fandom, “Monster Wiki/Frankenstein’s Monster,” online at 

Mayo Clinic Health System, “Water: Essential to your body,” online at

Science Direct:
“Aqueous Humor,” online at;
“Vitreous Humour,” online at

University of Michigan Health, “Eye Anatomy and Function,” as of August 31, 2020, online at

U.S. Geological Survey, “The Water in You: Water and the Human Body,”

U.S. National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, SEER Training Modules:
“Composition of the Blood,” online at;
“Skeletal System,” online at

For More Information about Human Biology, Including Water Aspects

American Society of Hematology, “Blood Basics,” online at

Cleveland [Ohio] Clinic:
“Heart & Blood Vessels: How Does Blood Travel Through Your Body,” online at;
“Lymphatic System,” online at

Eric Cudler, “Neuroscience for Kids,” online at

The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, Penn., “Blood Vessels,” online at

Isabel Lorenzo et al., “The Role of Water Homeostasis in Muscle Function and Frailty: A Review,” Nutrients, Vol. 11, No. 8 (August 2019, accessed online at (subscription may be required for access).

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “Facts About Blood and Blood Cells,” online at

Science Direct, “Synovial Fluid: Structure and Function,” excerpted from Textbook of Pediatric Rheumatology, 5th Edition, Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2005; accessed online at (subscription may be required for access).

University of Bristol (England), School of Medical Sciences, “Brain Basics: The Fundamentals of Neuroscience,” online at

U.S. National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, SEER Training Modules:
“Blood, Heart and Circulation,” online at;
“Muscular System,” online at;
“Nervous System,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Science” subject category.

Following are links to other episodes on connections of water to human biology (much of the information in this weeks episode was taken from these previous episodes). 

Overview of water’s roles in the body – Episode 592, 8-30-21.
Disease: COVID-19 – Episode 517, 3-23-20 and Episode 519, 4-6-20.
Disease: influenza – Episode 598, 10-11-21.
Disease: viruses – Episode 600, 10-25-21.
Circulatory system connections to water – Episode 593, 9-6-21.
Muscular system connections to water – Episode 596, 9-27-21.
Neurological system connections to water –
Episode 594, 9-13-21.
Skeleton system connections to water (with a Halloween theme) – Episode 595, 9-20-21.
Water intake and exercise – Episode 466, 4-1-19.
Water thermodynamics –
Episode 195, 1-6-14.

Following are links to other Halloween-themed episodes.

Episode 238, 10-31-14 – focusing on the plant Witch-hazel.
Episode 548, 10-26-20
– focusing on water-related readings that are supernatural, mysterious, or imaginative.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-3 plus 5: Matter
K.4 – Water is important in our daily lives and has properties.
3.3 – Materials interact with water. 

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
4.2 – Plants and animals have structures that distinguish them from one another and play vital roles in their ability to survive.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.

Life Science
LS.2 – All living things are composed of one or more cells that support life processes, as described by the cell theory.

BIO.2 – Chemical and biochemical processes are essential for life.
BIO.3 – Cells have structure and function.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at 

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.