Fun with Science: Boiling Water + Sub-Zero Temps = Nifty!

Go watch this video clip of a guy tossing a pot of boiling water into -40C air and be amazed. What results is a sudden cloud-like formation directly over the guy’s head as the boiling water rapidly freezes in mid-air. It was apparently shot in Saskatchewan where temps like that during the winter are fairly common. The clip is short and worth watching just for the neato factor.

Of course I should warn any of you impressionable kids out there to think twice before tossing pots of boiling water around trying to replicate this clip as many of you are idiots who will stand upwind or will try it on a summer day and end up frying your dumbass face off.

Link found via Boing Boing.

10 thoughts on “Fun with Science: Boiling Water + Sub-Zero Temps = Nifty!

  1. The Saskatchewan weather is, indeed, just like that. I lived 175km west of Saskatoon growing up, in a small town called Kerrobert.

    The local school district had a policy that said, essentially, it would not be shutting down the schools over the weather. -30C – -50C weather happened all too often (probably a good 20 days out of every winter). But when weather like that hit, it was often impossible for bus drivers’ personal vehicles to start (so they can’t make it to the switch point, the busses don’t run, and the farm kids don’t get into town). As a result, the school essentially broke down when the cold weather hit and that’s the only way you’d ever get out of class.

    Worst weather I’ve had to walk to school in was -52C. Parents vehicle wouldn’t start, and I needed to hand an assignment in. -40C is definitely not uncommon. The local lore for why we Sasquachs can do that has always said it’s the lack of moisture in the air that most often allows us to travel in that weather. In Niagara Falls, ON, -20C was brutal, but in SK -40 barely held the same effect.

  2. On one of my first experiences of severe cold was on a roadtrip me and some friends made into Canada in a beatup Plymouth Champ.  As we crossed the border we started noticing people with large swaths of cardboard tied to their front grills.  One of us kiddingly remarked it was some poor-man fix-it job that Canadians must have thought looked acceptable.

    But, rather quickly, we started noticing that our heat was maybe half the level of what it should’ve been.  A quick stop at the next quicki-mart and we went dumpster-diving for our Canadian-chic carboard grill-cover.

    But, even then with the device in place, especially in places like arc_legion’s territory, we also started to notice these dagger-like fountains of cold eminating from various cracks in the car’s molding.  It really made us respect the cold in a way i had totally never known.

    rob@egoz.org

  3. Kerrobert, eh? Arc_legion, I think I went to camp with some guys from there one summer. I grew up in Marshall, myself. (East of Lloydminster if that makes any sense.) It amazes me how many people I meet from Sask. Now I’m on the East Coast and I can definitely speak to the dry cold vs moist cold thing. -40 wasn’t super common in Sask. But when it got into the 30’s the funny thing was that it didn’t feel much worse that -25. AFter -25 it was just kind of like, well, yeah it’s cold, but you are so bundled up and sweating under layers and layers of stuff that it doesn’t matter anymore. Plus, what the hell are you doing outside in -40 weather anyway! Go inside and play Sega…or ping pong or something.

    Still, I’d say -40 weather in Sask. was and is pretty rare, unless people are factoring in the wind chill. But you’d definitely see -25 and below on the mercury. My folks still farm there and they say the winters have been warmer and less snowy in past years.

    Our school board had the -30 and below rule, too. Basically, the busses wouldn’t run because if they ever broke down all the kiddies would freeze to death. (This being before the days of cell phone proliferation in rural Sask.) I mean, every year somebody in a surrounding community would lose a foot or a hand because their car or snowmobile broke down and they were ill prepared. That and snowmobile decapitation on barbed wire fences were all-too-common winter fatalities.

    Out here on the east coast though…you get that damp wind blowing through you and I swear -10 feels like -30 did out west. Cardboord grills. Oh man, the memories are coming back…dudes in my high school used to rely on their car starters to start their cars from the window of class around midday so their cars and trucks would start when school was out. I worked out a deal with a hotel that was near to our school where they let me plug my broke ass Volvo into their outdoor electrical outlets to keep the engine block warm. A couple of their outlets were broken though, so every morning I had to put my head on the hood of the car and listen for the engine to start gurgling…

  4. Going to camp with Kerrobert people is pretty much a given where alcohol is involved. I heard that Kerrobert used to be really high up there on the alcohol consumption per capita during the mid to late 90s, although I was never able to verify it (rumour has it we were third highest in the country at one point). That said, I can say for certain that Kerrobert people are usually the first ones on the scene for parties leading within 2 hours of the Alberta border, when they actually attend. They’re typically the last ones to leave, too. There are a number of groves in the area around where I grew up, and it was common for someone from some other part of the district to find Kerrobert people there for someone else’s party, well into their first dozen, and burning old furniture waiting for the party to start.

    I don’t know that there’s another town out there with the wierdos Kerrobert had smile, so it wouldn’t surprise me to find that they were out in Lloyd or Compier for a party. Hell, Compier was a regular trip so that people who were 18 could buy alcohol across the Alberta border. Nowadays, most of the people I know that lived there actually moved to Alberta (a great many of them in central Alberta (Olds, Red Deer), and the rest in Calgary or Edmonton.

    It’s strange how we manage to catch up to each other over huge distances though.

  5. I’m not ruling out the possibility that I may have attended a bush party with Kerrobert (s)kids- though in my area it was more likely a gravel pit party, and you can substitute burning furniture for bench seats taken from abandoned cars.

    I think it was actually a summer camp or a youth thing of some kind up in Prince Alberta where I met some people from Kerrobert…maybe it was a couple of girls. I can’t really speak to their drinking preferences or prowess.

    Being a border city, Lloydminster has like 9 liquor stores on the Alberta side and exactly none on the Sask side. Coincidence that the legal drinking age is 18 in Alberta and 19 in Sask? They closed the only provincial liquor store on the Sask side of the border a short time after Alberta deregulated their liquor sales, I believe.

    I recall driving North for May long weekend (aka Victoria Day weekend, aka May “24”) and hearing about guys who had stashed cases of beer under the hoods of their cars and trucks to avoid the blockades set up by Sask police to block all the Alberta kids coming up to Sask lake country to drink/party/fuck/fight/crash cars etc…

    I recall hiding my bottle of “Baby Duck” sparkling wine in my Volvo’s heating system to bypass the blockade. Plus it was a Volvo, so I mean, who was going to stop me. I was a pretty clean cut kid at the time. I do have a memory of driving past some sorry looking dudes as they watched the RCMP pour multiple flats of beer out at the side of the road. Guess they didn’t think to hide it.

    Most of my friends moved to Calgary and Edmonton, too. Others to Toronto. Don’t know if you’ve been through Lloydminster lately, or at all, but I have heard that the town’s commercial growth (big box stores, etc) and oil patch boom is matched only by a high incidence of crack cocaine and crystal meth addiction, which is not really all that surprising when I think about some of the people I left behind in that insufferable dump. I believe we held a record of some kind for teenage pregnancies (our 700+ public high school would not allow condom machines in the school washrooms) though I have met others from different backwater locales who claim to have also had the national record for most teen pregnancies in their respective home towns.

  6. I grew up in Prince Albert and graduated from high school there. However after graduation I noted there were only 3 things to do, snowmobile, drink and screw.

    Just out of curiosity, do any of you recognize the building in the video. I am almost positive it is the University of Regina, but I haven’t been there in years.

    Also, if anyone here decides they someday need to make a cardboard grill, the best way to do it is take a pice of cardboard, but it to the size of your rad, then cut a hole about the size of your fist in the front. Put it behind the grill directly in front of your rad. This way, your car doesn’t look dumb or overheat.

  7. I have spent my life (except the first five years in Germany) in either Southern Ontario- ary -O, or B.C.
    If I had to go thru a praries winter I think I would just as soon pull a Han Solo and be frozen into a block of cordite or whatever the hell it was. I didn’t move to Canada to be no fuckin’ Eskimo.
    Even going back to Glasgow with my wife would be preferable. In the summer it’s 10-15 (C) and rain and in the winter it’s 5-10 (C) degrees and rains even harder. (Much like Vancouver only damper)

  8. Hahah, it was carbonite he was frozen into, Niagara Falls froze me worse than Saskatchewan, and I dunno if it’s the UofR. I have very vague memories of both UofS and UofR as a child, so I can’t say which it’s from.

    I thought about the idea that the weather limited what the kids in Kerrobert did – during the winter, drugs, sex, and sports were the way to go.

    But wait, they did that throughout the year – actually moreso in the summer. I decided that couldn’t be it.

  9. when they came out with the expression “sex and drugs and rock and roll” – being a good child of the sixties …. I thought they were serious! So I did, and did, and did.

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