In scientific jargon, the process of intermixing molecules in various states of matter can occur by two methods: diffusion and osmosis. But, while diffusion is the mixture of molecules as a result of their inherent kinetic energy based on random motion, whether in a gas, liquid or solid, osmosis is the flow of liquid between two sections separated by a semipermeable membrane or permeable. Osmosis generally refers to the flow of water.
Osmosis, therefore, is a selective form of diffusion. The diffusion is based on the random flow of molecules and is much more common in gases, while osmosis is based on the inherent solvent capacity of the molecules of a substance in water. It is the membrane, in osmosis, that allows the flow of certain types of molecules while restricting the flow of other types.
In both osmosis and diffusion, the molecules necessarily flow from an area of greater concentration to the lower one. A practical example of diffusion is when you spray an air freshener in a corner and the whole room quickly fills with the aroma. A practical example of osmosis is when you begin to feel thirsty after eating something salty because the excess salt draws water into the cells of the body.
In scientific terms, both diffusion and osmosis are classified as means of “passive transport” since no external energy is required for the flow of molecules. Osmosis is an important biological concept.
Diffusion and osmosis have an important role to play in living organisms to maintain homeostasis ” a balanced internal condition or balance to regulate various mechanisms through cellular functioning.
Lately, osmosis has also been used as a poetic concept and to define an educational concept in which a child learns by observing, interacting and simply being in the company of teachers and classmates. Diffusion, however, has not yet received this ‘exalted state’!