Icicles are harmless and picturesque winter phenomena, familiar to anyone who lives in a cold climate. The shape of an icicle emerges from a subtle “chicken and egg” feedback. Ice formation is controlled by how the water flows over the shape of the icicle. But the shape that the ice grows depends on how the water flows. Ideal icicles are predicted to have a universal “platonic” shape, independent of growing conditions. In addition, many natural icicles exhibit a ripply shape. The wavelength of the ripples is also remarkably independent of the growing conditions. Similar shape and ripple phenomena are also observed on stalactites in caves, although certain details of their formation differ.
Dr. Stephen Morris from the University of Toronto Physics Department built a laboratory icicle growing machine to explore icicle physics and learned what it takes to make a platonic icicle and the surprising origin of the ripples.
Make this Sunday a family affair and bring children of all ages as Pueblo Science will simultaneously be providing chilly hands-on winter activities outside.
Pueblo Science is a Toronto-based registered charity working to advance science education in low-resource communities. By sparking an interest in science at an early age, Pueblo Science aims to jump-start fundamental changes in social attitudes about science and to help young students understand the impact of human activity on environment, health, and communities.