February 1, 2008 Issue

Physics To Go 42 - Icicles/snowflakes

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Physics in Your World

Ripples on Icicles image
credit: Stephen Morris, The Experimental Nonlinear Group, Dept. of Physics, University of Toronto; image source; larger image

Ripples on Icicles

Notice the characteristic ripples on the icicle--see Ripples on Icicles for videos showing how these ripples form.  Visit Geomefreeze to find out more about icicles. To learn about the physics of freezing and melting water, see the Hyperphysics page Phase Changes.  

(This feature was updated on July 17, 2013.)

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Physics at Home

Ice Spikes

Visit Ice Spikes to find out how to grow ice spikes in your freezer. To see what an ice spike looks like, check out this photo from SnowCrystals.com.

(This feature was updated on February 28, 2012.)


From Physics Research

A Snow Crystal Primer image
credit: SnowCrystals.com; image source; larger image

A Snow Crystal Primer

You can learn about snowflake physics at SnowCrystals.com by Kenneth Libbrecht at Caltech.

Worth a Look


Although stalactites result from a chemical reaction and icicles from a physical change, they share a common form.  For time-lapse photos of a simulation of stalactite formation, with a model stalagmite growing underneath, see Stalactite.

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