Here’s a fun experiment that most of you should be able to try at home: Take a pot (whatever size you have should do), pour some water in it. Turn on your stovetop to its hottest setting, put that pot of water on the stove, and heat it until it reaches a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit/100 degrees Celsius. What do you think’s going to happen? If you guessed that it’s going to boil (because 212 degrees Fahrenheit is the boiling point of water), you’re absolutely right. congratulations!
Sorry, I’ll stop patronizing you. That’s probably a result you could anticipate without actually carrying out the “experiment.” But it turns out that given the exact right situation, there’s a way that you can get water even hotter than that, and not only will it not boil, but it’ll actually freeze (via Engadget).This isn’t something you’ll likely be able to do at home, though. A group of researchers at MIT discovered that they were able to solidify water that was hotter than 222 degrees Fahrenheit when it was in nanotubes.
“If you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can actually distort its phase behavior,” MIT’s Michael Strano said. “The effect is much greater than anyone had anticipated. All bets are off when you get really small.”
The researchers are reluctant to say the water was technically frozen per se, instead opting to say that “it’s not necessarily ice, but it’s an ice-like phase” achieved through a technique called vibrational spectroscopy. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, feel free to read about the experiment in greater depth here and here.
Featured image: Dirklaudio/Flickr