The Mpemba Effect: Settling a ~6 Year Old Score

The following is a message I sent my two older sisters, and thought I’d share with you fine folks:

“You girls probably don’t remember this, but for some reason I do. About 6 years ago, while we were all gathered round the dinner table, one of you asked me the following question: “Hey Alex, does hot water freeze faster than room temperature water” or something to that effect.
I said (at least this is what I remember) that it was possible, and gave an ad hoc explanation for why it could be true (I actually remember this well enough to know what my explanation was: in order for water to freeze, it must attain a certain conformation involving hydrogen bonding, and that perhaps starting at a higher energy level allowed the water to reach that confirmation easier).
Dad then quickly shut me down and said it was ridiculous: either way they both have to reach zero degrees celcius to freeze, and obviously the colder of the two would reach there first. I think I remember this so well because it was during my first year of university, and after Dad shot me down, I felt like I was an idiot.
Well, I’m happy to say that you (whoever asked me the question) were indeed correct!
It’s called the Mpenba effect, and no one really knows how it works! (my explanation was not given for any of the explanations currently held)”

Check it out here (wikipedia)
here (by someone in the physics department at the university of california)

[note: this is my 4th post of the day. The more you get to know me, the more you’ll learn that the number of posts in a day is directly proportional to how much school work I am avoiding doing]


About dontdontoperate

28 year old originally from Barrie, Ontario, Canada. H.B.Sc. from UofT with a major in chemistry and a double minor in philosophy and math. M.Sc. from UofT in physiology and neuroscience. Finished my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at McMaster in the fall of 2013.
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