Critical Opalescence

Critical Opalescence

Making the transition from confusion to comprehension, on all scales

As Ice Forms, It Can Create Amazing Spirals


In our February issue, Scientific American had an article on the phenomenon of liquid-rope coiling–the way that viscous fluids curl as they fall onto a surface, forming what looks like a miniature basket. Dribbling honey onto toast is a classic example (not to mention a great way to liven up your breakfast with physics experiments). Now reader Brian Parker of Dartmouth, England, sends us these remarkable photographs of ice spirals, which appear to be a related phenomenon. The spirals emanate from holes near the top of hollow tube stanchions on a metal staircase at a sports field.

Photographs courtesy of Brian Parker

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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