Thursday, January 24, 2008

Myth Busters - the Home Version

The van's temperature gauge registered a balmy 2 degrees this morning. And then I pulled out of the garage. Brady and I watched as the gauge fell.... 0 degrees... -2.... -4..... -8.... settling, finally, at -14 as we pulled into the carpool meet-up location. It is c-c-c-c-old today... colder than a mother-in-law's love, I tell you.

(Disclaimer - not MY mother-in-law, mind you)

AYE. I'd forgotten to put out the garbage the night before, when it would've made more sense at a sweltering 6 degrees, so I steeled myself against the cold and set to it. The cold burned my skin through the layers and I knew I'd quickly perish, a piscesgrrl popsicle, if I didn't get the recyclables poured faster. I worked so fast I was busier than a mosquito in a nudist colony.

Temperatures like this are fit for neither man nor beast, so Jonathan, the dog, the cat and I nestled in for a day of hibernation. On days like this, when even a woodburner stuffed to the gills doesn't cut it, I walk around in 3 layers with a scarf and a blanket wrapped toga-style.

"Ten more seconds and I'd have frozen to death," I told Jonathan. "I bet water would freeze in no time out there."

Hmmm.... water, below-zero temps, a
myth that needs busting...

"Hey Jonathan, it's said that hot water freezes faster than cold water. Wanna find out?"

((shoulder shrug)) "Sure."

And thus began our quest to disprove the theory that hot water freezes faster than cold.

Jonathan filled a jar with hot water.

And set it outside the back door.

Then he filled a jar with cold water.

And set that outside the back door too.

Then he set his stopwatch.

And we watched, checking on the water every 5 minutes or so. Until we realized it was going to take longer than we expected.

We found a candy thermometer in the land-of-no-return that is my junk drawer (no small feat, as you can see), and measured the water temps as they steadily fell.

Dum de dum.... Time for lunch.

Jonathan indulged in leftover carry-out pizza and a take-2 grilled cheese. I burned the first one, because I can't multi-task worth a damn was so engrossed in our experiment.

Then Jonathan recalled a story he heard in his museum class on Wednesday. His teacher had left a water bottle out overnight but it was tightly sealed so the water couldn't freeze. The next morning he unscrewed the top and when the air hit the water, it froze immediately, right before his eyes. "Let's try that too!" Jonathan exclaimed, and ransacked searched the kitchen cabinets for something that would seal. He chose Brady's soccer water-bottle.

Then we decided to try a reclosable plastic container. (Is reclosable a word? Hang on -

What if we use a big container?

Then we decided to play off the dynamics used in food preservation. During the canning process, air is driven from the jar and a vacuum is formed as the jar cools and seals the lids on tighter than a camel's backside in a sandstorm.


Here, Jonathan waits for the canning jar to seal by surfing the internet for tips on how to complete a diving catch on his Madden 06 GameCube game. His research paid off as he completed his first-ever diving catch not 10 minutes later. Then he completed about 6 more. I should know, I got to watch the replays about six dozen times. Maybe seven dozen.

The experimental containers, with the thermometer now on the ground, the surrounding air registering as colder than George Bush's feelings about children's health care.

In and out Jonathan went, both of us surprised at how slowly the water froze. Slower than molasses in January going up an icy hill, I'm tellin' ya. (I'm on a roll here.)

The results? After 55 minutes, the colder water had a layer of ice on top, and the warmer water didn't. At 1 hr, 17 minutes they both had layers of ice. At 1 hr, 42 minutes, the warm water jar had more ice. At 3 hours, both jars were frozen. As for the myth?
Hot water does freeze faster than cold, yo!

This was a fun experiment! More fun than arguing religion with a fundamentalist!

I'll stop now. Really.


whimsigal said...

First, I love all your witty sayin's. Being from the south we love to say things like that and you have given me some new ones to use. I think my favorite is the one about the camel. That was hilarious.

Next, love love love the experiment! That, paired with cold water boils faster than hot, has always been a question for me so thanks for going all Myth Busters with it and showing us what's what. My kids are fascinated with yours ever since the potato video. They refer to them as "The Unschooler", like "The Enforcer" so I can't wait to show them this experiment.

What a fun post!

Maria said...

I had a friend, who had a father (well, still does) who would always say "Colder than a witches tit in a brass brassiere."(thank goodness for spelling check on that last word)
I like that one. My husband thinks it's crass. But then he picks his nose.

Anyway, love the experiment complete with pictures! It's excellent to find out for oneself all that stuff. And to learn new sayings.


USAnudist said...

You stated "I worked so fast I was busier than a mosquito in a nudist colony."

This brings up the opportunity to challenge you to bust another myth based on the following:

"Female mosquitoes use the CO2 we exhale as their primary cue to our location. A hostseeking mosquito is guided to our skin by following the slip stream of CO2 that exudes from our breath. Once they have landed, they rely on a number of short-range attractants to determine if we are an acceptable blood meal host. Folic acid is one chemical that appears to be particularly important. Fragrances from hair sprays, perfumes, deodorants, and soap can cover these chemical cues. They can also function to either enhance or repel the hostseeking drive. Dark colors capture heat and make most people more attractive to mosquitoes. Light colors refract heat and are generally less attractive. Detergents, fabric softeners, perfumes, and body odor can counteract the effects of color. In most cases, only the mosquito knows why one person is more attractive than another."

- Rutgers Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet, "Frequently Asked Questions About Mosquitoes" .

Based on my own studies, mosquitoes are much less busy in a nudist club or resort (we haven't used the word 'colony' in 50 years). The lack of clothing to provide heat and odor retention greatly reduces the additional incentives, and often they just fly around and then drift away looking for smellier, clothed prey.

KMDuff said...

What a great way to "enjoy" the freezing weather! :)

Great sayings/quotes too.

Blanket togas are great extra layers of warmth too.

And the comment above me about mosquitos is hilarious too.

I think I used the word "too" too many times. Toodles.

Stephanie S. said...

Thanks so much, USANudist! I knew about the co2, of course, but the rest was news to me!

ahem. That aside -

A fabulous tale!
Almost makes me wish for subzero temperatures so that we may conduct such an experiment.
I shall confess to you that I was a little nervous that you were going to leave out the ending!
Obviously I have much to learn, and I should have paid much better attention to the tale and not to what I expected of the destination the last time.

Please forgive this littlest Grasshopper, Kemosabi.

Your Faithful Admirer.

Silvia said...

Ok, I got some more for you:
Colder than a well-diggers ass.
Colder than a witches tit in a brass bra.
It's a tid bit nipple.

Cold as a banker's heart
Cold as a dead snake in a deep freeze
Cold as hell with the furnace off
Cold as an outhouse seat in January

Cold enough to freeze the (fill-in-the blank) off a brass monkey
Cold enough to freeze the stink off (fill-in-the- blank)
Cold enough to make cows give ice cream

...from of "This Dog'll Hunt" by Wallace O. Chariton.

That was fun. ;) We always used the brass bra phrase when walking to the bus stop in NY winters. Or the well-digger.

And now go check out this long list: . I'm sure there's plenty more fodder for you. :)

piscesgrrl said...

whimsigal - cool! My kids will love being known as "The Unschooler" There are a lot more videos where that one came from - perhaps it should become a regular feature!

maria - I LOVE saying colder than a witch's tit. It's one of my old stand-bys!

usanudist - did I just offend a nudist with my post? I'm not sure I'm willing to test that myth, though I will say I seem to attract fewer mosquitos when I wear patchouli. And now, I have to know - how did you happen upon my blog? Are you an unschooling nudist? I.Must.Know.

kmduff - too too funny you are

stephanie - you are welcome to swap your balmy temps for our sub-zero anytime. In fact, we're hunkered down now awaiting the next storm! And also, I will try to round out my stories for you from now on; I don't want you gettin' twitchy. Only for you, though.

silvia - seriously, when I start looking I get lost for hours! Those crack me right up!

Beverly said...

The photos, the humor, the entertaining prose, and this homeschooling mama is stuck on the science.
Really? The hot froze faster? How could that be? Is it because it's less dense?
We're going to have to try this ourselves. My candy thermometer is still in its original packaging in my junk drawer. I could crack it open.