The interaction of soil microbes with their physical environment affects their abilities to respire, grow and divide. One of these environmental factors is the amount of moisture in the soil. The work we published almost 25 years ago showed that microbial respiration was linearly related to soil-water content and log-linearly related to water potential. The paper arose out of collaboration between two young researchers from different areas of soil science, physics and microbiology. The project was driven by not only our curiosity but also the freedom to operate without the constraints common to the current system of science management. The citation history shows three peaks, 1989, 1999 and from 2002 to the present day. Interestingly, the annual citation rate is as high as it has ever been. The initial peak is due to the application of the work to studies on microbial processes. The second peak is associated with the rise of simulation modelling and the third with the relevance of the findings to climate change research. In this article, our paper is re-evaluated in the light of subsequent studies that allow the principle of separation of variables to be tested. This re-evaluation lends further credence to the linear relationship proposed between soil respiration and water content. A scaled relationship for respiration and water content is presented. Lastly, further research is suggested and more recent work on the physics of gas transport discussed briefly.