Tuesday, December 05, 2006

On ice

Baby, it’s cold outside. This morning, there was just one lonely degree of temperature running around outside in northern Illinois. Anything that is normally liquid had a good chance of being solid this morning.

Which got me thinking about how ice forms. Sorry, my brain’s like that.

Water is the only substance on earth that decreases in density as it becomes a solid. Water does stick to the script for a time and increases in density as it gets colder, but somewhere around 4 degrees Celsius, it does a reversal and begins to decrease in density as it reaches the freezing stage at zero degrees.

That’s why ice floats. That’s why lakes freeze from the top down. If it were like any other liquid substance on earth, a body of water should freeze from the bottom up. Not good if you were a fish. Ice would form under you and you would have to move closer to the surface as the ice rose. You’d eventually find yourself flopping around on top of a frozen lake along with all your companions, ejected by the very substance that gave you life. Oh, cruel irony.

From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?
Job 38:29-30

Another "science can be beautiful" photo

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan

3 comments:

cube said...

That is a beautiful photo. And I think water is the most remarkable substance on the planet.

Tierre said...

I agree. James, love your site. I linked you to mine last night.

Tierre (TY-ree)

Tomas said...

I had knew that "Water decreases in density as it becomes a solid" we all knew that.but this knowledge was just a theory, while look at your blog has given the true meaning- the new life- to these words. Thank you for the help to grasp what is what by renewed look at self.
I heartily wish you the best. And lots of shots- of course, more beautiful than my rough English (my native language is Lithuanian)