Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Those old wives may have been on to something...

This argument goes back over 20 years - though maybe that's just for me. And Connie.

That would be the same Connie who stole CDs out of my dorm room after being subjected to hours, days and weeks of the same song over and over and over and over again. And the Connie who taught me how to drive. And to knit. The Connie who can complete the line "It's possible..." and knows why the phrase "for no apparent reason" is really funny.

Well, that Connie also insisted for years that hot water freezes faster than cold water. And I, as you can imagine, insisted she was wrong. Crazy. Flat out block-headed. I mean, really, water has to get to 32 degrees to freeze -- so of course water that's closer to that temperature is going to get there faster than water that's further away. Duh.

I even found a reason why once upon a time this oddball theory held water (sorry, couldn't resist), actually, my mom came up with this: back in the days before self-defrosting freezers, if you filled your metal ice-cube tray with hot water, it would melt the frost on the freezing element, bringing the tray closer to the element, and thus the water in the tray would actually freeze faster.

Well, to be fair, I owe a big fat apology to Connie. According to today's New York Times, hot water does indeed freeze faster than cold - something to do with hot water having less mass so it needs less energy. The "Mpemba effect" - which I can't even pronounce, let alone understand. But I understand that Connie was right all along and I was wrong. Consider this a public retraction, Con.

I still get to stand by this one though - cold water does NOT boil faster than hot water. Thank goodness some things are still self-evident. Although you still should use only cold water from the tap for cooking, drinking - and BOILING. Even if it does take longer.

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