Science lessons from a bitter cold snap in the south

12 Jan

Along with snow days, sledding, and hot chocolate – and sobering news of accidents, power outages, frozen pipes, and the impact of the frigid weather on people suffering from housing instability – news from the recent bitter cold snap in the southeast included tales of iguanas falling from trees and alligators freezing with their snouts above the swamp-line. Nature is amazing.

This past weekend, I also learned something about the properties of water that I hadn’t realized before: hot water freezes faster than cold water. What!?!?  This curious trait is called the Mpemba effect. In the video below (in Spanish with English subtitles), Antonio Lasanta with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid discusses a study he and his colleagues published in October 2017 on this effect. Unfortunately, only an abstract of the study is freely available from Physical Review Letters.

What applications can you think of for this knowledge?

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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in news, web site


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