www.whyville.net Nov 14, 2003 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Freezing Facts

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Yesterday was the first Halloween in a couple years that didn't have snow or freezing temperatures in my area. But whether it was cold on Halloween or not, the temperatures are going to start dropping really soon.

I'm sure most of you readers have experienced below freezing temperatures and snow and ice, unless you live somewhere that is warm year round. But how much do you really know about ice and snow? Here are some facts about what makes ice unique...

Ever wonder why ice floats in water? Things float because they are less dense than whatever they're floating in. But wouldn't you think that ice would be denser than water, because ice cubes look like water compressed into a cube? But no, ice is actually less dense. It has more volume, meaning it takes up 1/9 more space than liquid water. The formula for density is mass divided by volume, which ends up with 1.12:1. At about 4 degrees Celsius, water is at its maximum density. It slowly drops until the density falls sharply when the water hits freezing, or 0 degrees Celsius.

At the Skater game, you learn the dynamics of spinning. But did you ever wonder why you can spin on ice with ice skates, but it doesn't exactly work on a wooden floor? One of ice's other interesting properties is that it melts under pressure. When the blade on your skate pushes against ice, it melts the ice slightly. This helps the skater glide along. After you move away, the water will refreeze.
(These facts were found at http://www.frontiernet.net/~docbob/ice.htm.)

A white blanket of snow is often a metaphor heard in stories or poems. But is snow always white? Everyone knows not to eat yellow snow, but are there other colors? During the 1930s, homes were heated by coal. Coal dust would go up the chimneys and combined with the clouds. When the snow fell from these clouds, it was often gray. In parts of the world that have red dirt, the dirt is occasionally blown up into the clouds. When the snow falls, it is pink.
(This fact was found at http://members.aol.com/kitecd/snow.htm.)

Have you ever told your little brother or sister to stop eating that snow? Or have you yourself been told that? Well, snow is edible. But in urban areas, there may be pollution in the snow. It's probably such a small amount in the snow that it couldn't do you any real harm, but just to be safe, it might be best if you only ate snow in rural areas, where there isn't as much pollution.

Most people thinks of snow as one of the coldest substances on earth. Yet it can also keep you very warm. Snow is actually usually made of 90-95% air, making it wonderful insulator. The air can't move, so it can't transfer heat. That is why an igloo can actually keep you warm instead of making you freeze to death.
(These facts were found at http://nsidc.org/snow/faq.html.)

I hope this article made you huddle under a blanket with hot cocoa. Personally, I'm hot. Right now I just looked at the thermometer and it's 70 degrees out. Maybe cold weather isn't coming so soon after all....

This is Hermionez, signing off to go put on some sun screen.


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