One of the best perks of being a blogger is that I always have someone to share interesting information with. (Of course I’m referring to you, my wonderful readers!) And I recently learned about a fascinating ice phenomenon that I instantly wanted to share with you! It may not be something you end up using every day, but it could be very useful in a pinch.
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The next time you need ice in a hurry, try filling your ice cube tray with hot water rather than cold water. Due to a mysterious little phenomenon called the Mpemba effect (pronounced mem-PEM-ba), hot water is capable of freezing faster than colder water under the same conditions. It sounds backward, and maybe even a little crazy, but it really works!
Why Is It Called The Mpemba Effect?
But what does the name actually mean? This phenomenon got its name from Erasto Mpemba, a Tanzanian student who observed that his still-warm ice cream mixture froze faster than his classmates’ colder mixtures. He teamed up with a physics professor named Denis Osborne to study the effect, and they published a paper about it in 1969.
And although the phenomenon was named after Mpemba and his research, he was far from the first person to take notice of it. In fact, Aristotle recorded observing the Mpemba effect all the way back in the 4th century AD!
How Does The Mpemba Effect Work?
Between Aristotle’s time and now, scientists haven’t actually gotten much closer to a concrete explanation of how it works. One promising explanation is that hot water develops currents and temperature gradients as it cools. It loses heat more rapidly from its surface, which might contribute to a faster rate of freezing.
But there are other promising explanations too, suggesting that several factors contribute to the Mpemba effect! It just goes to show that even something as seemingly simple as water can work in very mysterious ways! :-)
So there you have it, your mini science-and-history lesson for the day! And if you ever find yourself in need of ice in a hurry, I hope you’ll remember the Mpemba effect and give this handy tip a try!