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No. 102: Nov-Dec 1995

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"WEIRD ICICLES" IN A REFRIGERATOR

Sketch of the upwardly-growing refrigerator icicle
Sketch of the upwardly-growing refrigerator icicle.
Birdbaths, it seems, are not essential for the generation of tilted, upwardly growing, crystalline icicles. From St. Louis, C. Masthay writes:

"In Science Frontiers 100, p. 2, Jul.-Aug. 1995, you have the article WEIRD ICICLES. Well I've just got to tell you about the icicle in my icecube tray. I went to Connecticut on vacation for 2 weeks the latter half of this June (1995). Sometime during that time the electricity was out for 3½ hours. When I opened my refrigerator for a drink, there was a weird stalagmitic icicle with a faint frostiness on the cystalline end. I left it alone for these 2 weeks to watch it recede with my frostfree refrigerator. When I saw your article, I regarded the explanation of a central channel as being inappropriate, for this one had to grow as a normal crystal in the unaccustomed rise in temperature. It too had a tipped angle of perhaps 10° to 15°. What is more is that this is the second time this has happened in a year. How many other refrigerators have done the same? Thus the birdbath crystal is not impossible."

(Masthay, Carl; personal communication, July 17, 1995.)

Questions. Why are all of these upwardgrowing icicles inclined slightly? Why are they all prismatic in contrast to those hanging from our eaves?

From Science Frontiers #102 Nov-Dec 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss