Cryophile Files: Come hail or low temperatures

Japanese Youtube channel  made this video to demonstrate one of those strange states that matter sometimes finds itself in.

This video was made possible by the process of supercooling. To understand supercooling, look at hail. High up in the clouds, the temperature can be below freezing while there’s still liquid water in the air, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. There’s also a lot of other things floating around in the air – dust, ice, and so on. When one of these collides with water, the careful balance the water maintained to remain liquid is disrupted, and it turns into ice. After being tossed back up a few times by air currents, each time the iceball collecting more and more of this supercooled water, the ball finally falls back to Earth as hail.

Shaking a bottle, as seen in the video, also breaks the water molecules out of formation, like the solid ball of a school of fish that disintegrates when a shark swims through it. Then, the molecules cling to one another and solidify.

Some animals, including mosquitoes, harvested the power of supercooling to keep them alive down to lethal temperatures. Without the ability to pump imperfections out of their systems, these animals’ cells would burst in the cold. As temperatures plunge well below freezing, ice is inevitable, but supercooling gains some insects protection from Fairbanks winters if they also find a cozy, insulated place to sleep.

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