Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ice cube tricks for your entertainment

Ice Ice Baby!
In anticipation of a warm summer, we've been telling you about some chilly summertime ideas.  This post is similar and I hope you enjoy it, but it is particularly for my family.  You see, when I was but a wee tot, back in 19mumblemumble, one summer afternoon in a small town in Ohio, we had some drinks with ice cubes in them.  We drank these drinks with straws.  After the drinks were gone, there were a few ice cubes in the bottom of the glass.  Rather than waiting for the ice to melt, we found that blowing warm breath through the straws into the ice cube would make it turn to liquid more quickly.  Because the straw directed your warm breath in a particular spot on the ice cube, we soon found that you could basically drill holes in the ice with our breath.
Straw balanced by ice
As we played around, someone made a hole all the way through the ice cube.  This is where the fun began.   We found that you could balance the straw sideways across the rim of your glass with an ice cube suspended over the glass by the straw.  If you didn't center your straw, you would have a long bit of straw on one side being balanced by the weight of the ice cube.  As the ice cube melted, the weight distribution would change until, suddenly, the straw would tip over.  Based on this simple mechanism, we started creating machines.  When an ice cube melted, it would cause a straw to drop another ice cube onto a fork that would act as a lever to lift something else up and so on.  In the end we created an ice cube powered Rube Goldberg machine on our dinner table to build a sandwich.  The trickiest part was getting the toothpick to stick into the sandwich.  I'm sorry to say that this all happened before the internet and YouTube, so there is no history of this event other than what I have written here.

The video below is the closest I've seen to the ice cube shenanigans we performed that day.  It is only vaguely reminiscent of our fun day, and really is much more a rip-off of Eepybird (of Coke and Mentos fame including the two arm victory salute at the end).  Of course, even that is relevant for my family since our ice cube incident happened during a time when we hung out with Fritz Grobe of Eepybird before he got all famous and stuff.  Still it is entertaining and I hope you enjoy it.

For comparison here is the Eepybird video.... just sayin....

Controversies aside, summer is officially here and I hope the warm days make you appreciate the miracle of the ice in your freezer.  The ability to create ice through refrigeration (which we take for granted) has a long history that includes notables such as Benjamin Franklin and Michael Faraday.  During the winter it is so plentiful that in Sweden they build hotels out of it (see below), but during the hot summer, it is the technological miracle of refrigeration keeps our food and medicine from spoiling, gives us air conditioning and ice and generally makes life much more pleasant.  So during a particularly hot day this summer, take some ice out of your freezer and think about just how awesome it is that you can play with it as it melts away.  Enjoy!
Widdikay and Bix hanging out in the Ice Hotel in northern Sweden