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Lake Superior’s Winter Shores Look Like Piles of Broken Glass

Producers of ambient sound makers take notice: crunching ice sheets may be the ultimate soothing white noise.

Filmed by Dawn LaPointe of the husband-wife nature exploration duo “Radiant Spirit Gallery,” the above video showcases two serene minutes of ice sheets cracking and stacking like glass shards on the shores of Lake Superior. LaPointe, and her husband Gary, write that the goal of their YouTube channel is to “[provide] rich opportunities for nature lovers and art enthusiasts to enhance their surroundings with the energy and beauty of nature.” Something as simple as ice sheets breaking and building into mounds along the shoreline accomplishes this goal.

Speaking of nature, why is it that these ice sheets—or any ice at all—float on top of liquid water? Sure, ice is less dense than water, but why is that?

The molecular structure of H2O has a bunch of quirks. One is that oxygen atoms attract electrons more strongly than hydrogen atoms do. The atoms’ electrons move more toward the oxygen atom, which in turn gives the H2O molecule a polarity — a positive end and a negative end. While H2O is in its liquid phase, there’s enough movement that this molecular polarity doesn’t matter. But as water freezes, the H2O molecules are close enough together that their individual negative ends attract positive ends, and vice versa. The result is a lattice structure that’s very Swiss cheesy, making ice less dense than liquid water.

frozen-h2o-image-02182016Due to H2O’s molecular structure, when frozen, it takes on a lattice structure.

It’s a good thing this happens, because if ice didn’t float, and water froze from the floor up, that would be seriously uncool (too cool?) for aquatic lifeforms.

What do you think about Radiant Spirit Gallery’s video? Would your rather pop bubble wrap or crack ice sheets? They’re both so tempting… but let us know which one is more so in the comments section below!

HT: Colossal

Images: Radiant Spirit Gallery, Dbuckingham42

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