Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

If you have nothing better to think about today, how about trying to solve this old scientific puzzle?

“Why does hot water freeze faster than cold water?”

There is a £1000 pound prize for the best answer:

It seems a simple enough question – yet it has baffled natural philosphers for at least 2,300 years.

  • Aristotle agonized over it fruitlessly in the fourth century BC
  • Descartes was defeated by it in the 17th century AD
  • Even perplexed 20th and 21st century scientists and intellectuals have swarmed over it without result

Now the Royal Society of Chemistry is offering £1000 to the person or team producing the best and most creative explanation of the phenomenon, known today as The Mpemba Effect.

Details at:


Comments on: "Why does hot water freeze faster than cold water?" (2)

  1. Reblogged this on peyami.

  2. David Fisher said:

    In the third grade our science teacher brought water to a boil then set the teakettle on the palm of his hand for a short time without burning his hand. He had volunteers do the same. I volunteered. At first the bottom of the teakettle just felt warm but quickly turned hot. For some reason the boiling water drew the heat out of the copper coated steel bottom of the teakettle as long as the water kept boiling.

    Just this past Christmas while watching TV I watched a lady who lived in the northern part of Japan trim her outside Christmas tree with snow by throwing boiling water into the air. The boiling water quickly turned to snow and settled on the tree branches. And that doesn’t happen with plain water.

    On hiking and camping trips at altitude, say in the Rockies, it is difficult to cook food in water without a pressure cooker.

    I don’t know if these observations are related in some manner to the subject of hot water freezing faster than cold water. Water has gaseous properties when boiling; therefore it freezes faster–perhaps.

    Dave Fisher

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