Sciencey LOL of the Week

Ice cubes float in water

Well done, meme-maker. Everybody loves a good pun.

But did you ever wonder why ice floats?

It may seem counter-intuitive, but ice is actually less dense than water! Approximately 9% less dense. This may seem odd because most solid objects sink when tossed into water and this is because they are denser. In other words, there are more molecules of whatever it’s made of packed into its mass.  So wouldn’t the same apply to ice, which IS essentially solid water?

According to the ice floating in your gin and tonic, the answer is no and the reason for this lies in what happens on a molecular level when water becomes so cold that it freezes to ice. During this process, the little bonds between the molecules of water become rigid, forcing them into a delicate repeated pattern called a crystal lattice. In this state, the molecules are set slightly further apart than they would be in liquid form. With more space between the molecules, you are left with a substance that is less dense. As a result, the ice floats to the top of your drink, clinking pleasantly as it does so.

So, in spite of the compelling argument put forward by your drunk friend, the fact that ice floats has nothing to do with trapped fish farts…

fish farts in ice

Sciencey LOL of the week

Who was Schrödinger?

Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger *gaaaaaasp* was an Austrian physicist who brought mankind closer to understanding atomic theory, wave mechanics and quantum mechanics. Or at least he brought the science-educated closer to understanding atomic theory, wave mechanics and quantum mechanics: One look at that famous equation of his and you’ll become a narcoleptic. Despite the plebeian nature of this statement, Schrödinger deserves much praise. His contributions to the field of wave mechanics landed him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933 and he is a much loved character in Chemistry textbooks.