What's cooler than being cool? Supercool!


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When it comes to water, everyone knows that it freezes at 0*C (32*F).  Except in the case of supercooled water.  



I always keep a couple bottles of water in my car to have for my commute to campus.  A few weeks ago when temperatures dipped down to the mid-twenties, I found one of my water bottles had frozen solid, but the second one was still liquid.  I picked it up to take a drink, but while opening the top, I saw the water freeze in just a few seconds!  

When I got home that night, I did a quick Google search to see if I could find out what happened.  The results showed many YouTube videos and a few links describing "supercooled water."  

According to NASA "An interesting phenomena in fluid physics is the undercooling of liquids.  This is the lowering of the temperature of a liquid beyond the freezing temperature and still maintaining a liquid form." 

This occurs with very clean containers and pure water, such as a never opened bottle of water, like the one in my car.  The freezing process begins when there is any kind of agitation, such as shaking, dropping or opening the bottle (Illinois.edu, 2012).

Have you ever experienced supercooled water?  Or the opposite, superheated water?



Sources:
http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=1618
http://www.webcitation.org/5mjJauR7S
Superheated water video is property of Mythbusters

2 Comments

I must say, the title of this article grabbed my attention, mainly for the Outkast reference (Ice Cold!), intentional or not. But it also interested me because i also have opened a seemingly normal bottle of water and watched it freeze completely solid in a matter of seconds. I thought the video does a great job showing just how quickly this process happens when the water doesn't even make it out of the bottle to the bowl! It made me wonder if there was any possible practical use for this phenomenon? I tried to find something on that but I came up empty. Would be an interesting possibility for sure though. If anybody can find anything on this I would certainly like to read it.

I had never heard of this before! The video was very cool and certainly entertaining. I do have a question about the reason for the freezing. If pure water does not freeze unless disturbed, why is it that when clouds condense and then precipitate, the water droplets freeze and fall to the ground as snow? When water is held in the cloud, it is said to be in its purest form, so why would we see it frozen? Does its descent from the sky constitute as a disturbance?

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