The Mysterious Science of Icicles

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University of Bath

Wolfson Lecture Theatre

4 West, Room 1.7

Bath

BA2 7AY

United Kingdom

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The Mysterious Science of Icicles

Icicles are a beautiful and common sight during any cold winter. To scientists, however, explaining their shape is a challenge.

No existing theory can completely predict the shape of an icicle. The shape emerges from a subtle feedback between ice formation and the flow of water over the evolving shape.

An ideal icicle is predicted to have a universal "platonic" shape, but a morphological instability causes many natural icicles to exhibit ripples around their circumference. Each icicle evolves in a self-organised way, yet weirdly, when ripples form, they always have a wavelength close to 1 cm, no matter how cold the air is or how fast the water flows.

To explore icicles physics, Professor Stephen Morris, University of Toronto and his team built a one-of-a-kind icicle-growing machine. In this lecture, Stephen will share what it takes to make a platonic icicle and the surprising origin of the ripples.


Professor Stephen Morris, University of Toronto

Professor Stephen Morris

Stephen Morris is a Professor of Physics at the University of Toronto and a previous J. Tuzo Wilson chair. His research involves experiments on emergent patterns in fluids, granular media, ice formations and fracture. He is also interested in natural patterns, and in the history of physics.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the winner of several University of Toronto awards for teaching excellence. He has sometimes exhibited his scientific images as art and has intermittently appeared on the Discovery Channel.

Stephen has created a free online Icicle Atlas with images, time-lapse movies, 3D printable files and time-series data on 237 distinct laboratory-grown icicles.


This is a FREE IMI Public Lecture, open to all with a ticket.

The lecture will start promptly at 3.15pm with tea and coffee served from 2.45pm.

Enquiries

Nia Fenn

n.fenn@bath.ac.uk

01225 385245

Date and Time

Location

University of Bath

Wolfson Lecture Theatre

4 West, Room 1.7

Bath

BA2 7AY

United Kingdom

View Map

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