Science Club
  1. Does Black Bark Mulch Help Keep Moisture in the Soil?
  2. How Much Water does a Fountain Use?
  3. Find your Body Surface Area
  4. How Fast do French Fries Cool Down?
  5. My Year of Coincidences
  6. Which Firework is the Loudest?
  7. Cost to store a VHS tape in a NYC apartment?
  8. Guess Your Blood Alcohol Level Booth
  9. Find the Loudest Restaurant in Sacramento
  10. How Much do Clothes Weigh?
  11. Trying to Make Clear Ice
  12. Searching the Indian Ocean for a Plane Crash
  13. Electronic Cigarettes - The Fog Machine for Your Face
  14. Scott Leased an Electric Ford Focus
  15. Testing the Effectiveness of a Beer Cozy
  16. Eggshells vs. Taco Shells
  17. How Ice Rinks are Made
  18. Shaken vs. Stirred
  19. Real Appliance Energy Use Tests
  20. Christmas Lights Power Cost
  21. The Best Cold Drink Cup
  22. LED vs. Regular Bulbs & CFLs
  23. Coldest drink in town?
  24. Using Salt to Cool Down Beer
  25. Coors Light Cold Indicator
  26. The Fastest Way to Cool Down Beer
  27. Hairdryer vs. Bowl of Water
  28. Bathroom During a Movie?
  29. Video Projector on a Disco Ball
  30. Cool Trunk
  31. The weight of popcorn
  32. Sunchips bag decomposition
  33. Disscating a cockroach
  34. Sensefly Drone Camera
  35. Entrance Locked
  36. End Rubbernecking
  37. Eyeclops Night Vision
  38. Miracle Fruit Taste Test
  39. Hot Air Bubbles
  40. Helium Bubbles
  41. Neighborhood Speed Trap
  42. Pizza Race
  43. Eyeclops - Bionic Magnifier
  44. Breathalyzer Testing
  45. Fishing Line Fiberoptics
  46. The Value of CFL Bulbs
  47. Barry Marshall Fan Page
  48. Bottling the Keg Leftovers
  49. Spinning Rim Centrifuge
  50. Backwash Experiments
  51. sidewalk chalk
  52. Red Hot Vioxx Action!
  53. Balloon Delivery
  54. Tanning
  55. Making a Candle Out of Lipstick
  56. Evaporation
  57. The lift of a Helium Balloon
  58. Lard Candle
  59. The Properties of Heat Transfer
  60. Insulation Testing
  61. Eating Out
  62. Eating In
  63. Tattoo Removal
  64. Drying Laundry
  65. Viscosity Testing
  66. Magazine Advertising
  67. Collecting Data
  68. Dropping Toast
  69. Refilling an Ink Cartridge
  70. Tampons
  71. Light Bulbs

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Hairdryer vs. Bowl of Water

Back in 2006, I conducted five experiments which tested thermal properties and behaviors of ice and water.
They were:
1. What will melt faster, ice in a bowl or ice in a colander?
2. Which will freeze faster, boiling hot water or cold water?
3. Which appliance will melt ice faster, A microwave oven or a stove?
4. Which will melt ice faster, an incandescent bulb or a candle?
5. Which will melt faster, ice in a cardboard box or in a refrigerator?

I was excited to conduct and record the results of these experiments because I really didn't know the answers before I started.

So often in books and on the web, I read about experiments or studies that were conducted to find out if hypotheses were correct. That's actually closer to how science is done. These ice melt experiments were done purely as a learning exercise. I didn't have anything at stake... except perhaps a slight inclination towards unexpected results.

Last weekend, six years after the original experiments, I tried one more.

The first one of the previous experiments impressed upon me how effective liquid water is at conducting heat. It literally changed how I behave in real life, particularly in the kitchen.
Want to cool off? Jump in cold water. Want to thaw a frozen turkey? Submerge it in water.

I was also inspired to conduct another experiment. The experiment below.

Hairdryer vs. Bowl of Water
Which would melt an ice cube faster? A 1600 Watt hairdryer or a bowl of water?

Here's the setup. The bowl was a two-quart bowl of water. This seemed like enough water to absorb an ice-cube worth of coldness without significantly lowering the water temperature. The hairdryer is electric. I'll run it on HIGH temp, full power, directed towards a single ice cube. The ice will be on a steel grating, so melted ice flows away and the dryer air won't push the ice around.

Both ice cubes were identical, to 1/10th of a gram.

At precisely the same moment, we started the melt, pointing a hairdryer at Ice Cube A, dropping Ice Cube B into the bowl of water.

Side by side, they endured the heat. The ice under the hair dryer was being hit by a much hotter melting force, but the ice in the water bowl was immersed in its enemy, melting away on all sides.

Who would triumph in this endurance test to stay solid?

At the 4½ minute mark, the ice cube in the bowl of water was gone. Completely melted, it was reduced to a ring of bubbles on the surface of the water.

We shut off the hair dryer and assessed the remaining ice.

The hairdryer had done well, but it simply couldn't melt the ice as fast as a nice room-temperature bath. It had lost to the water bowl.

A one gram chip of solid ice remained, unmelted by the dryer.

The video below illustrates the test above, but it is not a very watchable video, due to the eccentric camera work and hairdryer drone. Watch at your own risk.

Submerging frozen things in tap water is a terrific way to defrost or melt them. It's a great technique for frozen chicken or broccoli, but not appropriate for corn dogs.


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