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Cash prize offered for solving Mpemba effect

  1. Jun 27, 2012 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2012 #2
    Could it be related to the fact that ice is less dense than liquid water? That seems contradictory to intuition as well. I would think since hot water is less dense, its molecules are more spread out and so they need to move less to form ice. That's my immediate naive idea, I don't have time to actually think about it. Don't ask me to go any deeper or use math on that either.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  4. Jun 27, 2012 #3

    russ_watters

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    Is this a joke?
     
  5. Jun 27, 2012 #4
    Not as far as I'm aware, but then it was only reported by the BBC at 1pm today as coming from Imperial College, and The Royal Institute of Chemistry.
     
  6. Jun 27, 2012 #5
    Mpemba placed cold water in a refrigerator and measured the time to freeze. Then placed hot water in the fridge and saw a shorter time to freeze...

    What is the big mystery? When putting a heat source in a fridge the thermostat kicks on the compressor and actively cools down the interior.

    What would be a mystery is if he had unplugged the fridge after the compressor shut off (so the fridge interior was at a known temperature), and THEN put the water in. If the hot water freezes faster without the aid of the compressor, then there is something to look at.

    Or, if you set out two trays of hot and cold water outside on a windless, subzero day, in the shade...

    Has anyone actually done the experiment correctly?
     
  7. Jun 27, 2012 #6

    Khashishi

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    Really, I thought this was already solved. Hot water has less dissolved gases than cold water, so it has a higher freezing point.
     
  8. Jun 27, 2012 #7

    russ_watters

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    Well at face value it sounds like a stupid contest and the link to the contest stie is broken...
     
  9. Jun 27, 2012 #8

    russ_watters

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    That has little effect on the energy requirements, so little effect on the time.
     
  10. Jun 27, 2012 #9
    Works for me, however I can't be accountable for american sites.
     
  11. Jun 27, 2012 #10
    Why is it a stupid contest? Is there already an accepted explanation for the effect? I had heard of the effect a long time ago, but I always assumed there must have been a known explanation but was probably over most people's heads.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  12. Jun 27, 2012 #11

    jedishrfu

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  13. Jun 27, 2012 #12

    russ_watters

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    The existence of the effect outside of poorly set up (or purposely set up?) experiments is dubious at best and the fact that it was "discovered" by an Indian high school student in a cooking class implies it may be in line with other dubious or overblown "discoveries" by Indian schoolchildren we've seen floating around (in fairness, not all are Indian, they just seem overrepresented). The've become somewhat of a meme.
     
  14. Jun 27, 2012 #13

    Borek

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    Tanzanian. Different skin color and different continent.
     
  15. Jun 27, 2012 #14

    russ_watters

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    Eek, sorry. Not sure how I got that wrong. :redface:
     
  16. Jun 27, 2012 #15

    jedishrfu

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    excerpted from wikipedia on the Mpemba effect origin:

    Origin

    The effect is named after Tanzanian Erasto Mpemba. He first encountered the phenomenon in 1963 in Form 3 of Magamba Secondary School, Tanganyika when freezing ice cream mix that was hot in cookery classes and noticing that they froze before cold mixes. After passing his O-level examinations, he became a student at Mkwawa Secondary (formerly High) School, Iringa, Tanzania. The headmaster invited Dr. Denis G. Osborne from the University College in Dar Es Salaam to give a lecture on physics. After the lecture, Erasto Mpemba asked him the question "If you take two similar containers with equal volumes of water, one at 35 °C (95 °F) and the other at 100 °C (212 °F), and put them into a freezer, the one that started at 100 °C (212 °F) freezes first. Why?" only to be ridiculed by his classmates and teacher. After initial consternation, Dr. Osborne experimented on the issue back at his workplace and confirmed Mpemba's finding. They published the results together in 1968.[4]

    ...

    [4] ^ Mpemba, Erasto B.; Osborne, Denis G. (1969). "Cool?". Physics Education (Institute of Physics) 4 (3): 172–175. Bibcode 1969PhyEd...4..172M. DOI:10.1088/0031-9120/4/3/312.
     
  17. Jun 27, 2012 #16
    Today's lunch time news was the first I had ever heard of the phenomenon.

    My immediate thoughts are:

    A given liquid has a higher heat content at higher temperature so to reach freezing more quickly must require a greater rate of cooling and heat transfer for some reason.
    Certainly the initial rate of cooling will be greater due to Newton's law of cooling.
    However at some point the temperature of the originally hotter liquid must match or dip below that of the other.
    So by the same reasoning it should cool more slowly from this point on.
     
  18. Jun 27, 2012 #17
    This is an old "paradox" whose explanation is that the hot container will melt and sink into the layer of ice on the bottom of the icebox thus providing less thermal resistance for the remainder of the freezing process. Of course this only works on old, non "frost free" freezers.

    I believe that the hermes2012 thing is a scam to capture personal information.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  19. Jun 28, 2012 #18

    RonL

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    It seems quite simple in my mind, :rolleyes::blushing:

    The hot water has a more aggressive internal action, which will reflect a greater distribution of heat as it declines in temperature. The distribution of heat at a faster rate will reflect less heat overall throughout the liquid, this means a cooler central area.

    When the two volumes are at an equal temperature, the hot has dispersed more heat as it declined and still has a greater internal kinetic action taking place, this continues to more evenly move heat to the boundary layer points of heat transfer, thus that center volume has a lower temperature and becomes solid before the cold container.

    This is my thought process and no prior thinking, other than hearing the statement and had always discounted it's validity, the thread put my mind to work.
     
  20. Jun 28, 2012 #19
    Assuming that this is a real effect, then is it only valid for water? If so, then the explanation can only apply to water.
     
  21. Jul 29, 2012 #20
    Deadline today. I just did submit something and I wonder if own thoughts about the results of my little experiment can be posted here.
     
  22. Jul 30, 2012 #21

    sophiecentaur

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    What puzzles me is: the temperature of the 'hot water' will drop. On the way, it will pass the temperature that the 'cold water' started at. Unless there is some other factor that the experimenters haven't told us about, it is then the same stuff at the same temperature that the cold water was (it is now 'cold water') but later. How can it then (from that temperature) cool faster and overtake than the other lot of water?
    Although I can't say that the effect could never happen under any circumstances, this is just not a fair test, as described - because it isn't actually described.
    Possible factors are: dissolved gas affecting the latent heat of fusion, convection currents in the hot water allowing faster heat transfer by stopping the formation of an insulating of ice on the outside of the initially cold water, the thermostat (my favourite).

    I heard this statement as long ago as 1954 (ish), when we (the family) bought our first Fridge. But at nine years of age, I didn't question it too much - just enjoyed ice lollies at home for the first time. (popsicles - for our trans-atlantic cousins)
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  23. Jul 30, 2012 #22

    ZapperZ

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  24. Jul 30, 2012 #23

    sophiecentaur

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    But, from what I read of those abstracts, the conditions aren't all defined in the same way. They are quite specific and sophisticated. It makes me wonder what the original statement (not the OP - I mean the really original one) was really about.

    I don't think it ever meant that when you put your ice cube tray in the freezer, it's better to fill it with warm water. THAT is what everyone immediately thinks it's all about.
     
  25. Jul 30, 2012 #24
    Meanwhile I did some interesting observations.

    As I was alerted yesterday on the the contest, I did some hasty unsophisticated tests.

    The hypothesis about impurities like dissolved gasses, delaying crystal forming appeared reasonable. So I used three small sealed containers with precooled boiled water and just tap water and one with hot tapwater. At around 50 minutes in the freezer, the cold boiled superfroze upon touching. Eventually the tap water followed. The warm boiled came last. That seemed to confirm that idea.

    Today I wanted to reproduce that and to see if the hardiness, would also affect it, I also used rain water. We have a lot of that. I used small glass (test) tubes and sealed off the water with olive oil to prevent evaporation cooling and re-aeration

    At a certain moment at which I expected some freezing, all appeared still liquid. So I touched the water surfaces with a toothpick.
    When I touched the set, the control tube flash froze. When I touched the precooled boiled samples, nothing happened, still liquid. But upon touching both initial hot samples flash froze.

    Back to square one, or does anybody have an idea?

    ( I do :uhh: )

    Apart from that it struck me that the flash frozen crystals sank rather than floating.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  26. Jul 30, 2012 #25
    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/22026080/IMG_8810.JPG [Broken] was taken right before the touching test

    #1 and #2 are precooled boiled tap and rain water |(that did not react upon touching)
    #3 is plain, not precooled tap water (apparantly already partly frozen)
    #4 and #5 are initially hot boiled tap and rain water (that flash froze upon touching a few seconds later).

    Something trivial :P struck me there.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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