Saturday, February 11, 2023


Environmental &Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Solar System, Earth Systems, Nature of Science, Models

Ed Hessler

A short paper in the journal Nature News for February 2, 2023 describes the creation of a new kind of ice that "perhaps (opens) a door to studying water's mysterious properties." It is called "medium-density amorphous ice" and was made by shaking regular ice "in a small container with...stainless-steel balls at temperatures of - 200 degrees centigrade, which to put it in our winter terms is - 328 degrees below freezing. It does answer the eternal question: "Cold enough for ya'?"

Amorphous ice is ice "without (crystal) order." The reporting by Jonathan O'Callaghan notes that there are also "two dozen other regular arrangements," depending on conditions at the time of freezing (pressure, rate of freezing are two). The essay describes "two types of amorphous ice." neither common on earth but are "plentiful in space," e.g., comets.

O'Callaghan reports on how this new ice was produced and then how it was analyzed with the use of X-rays. "The results matched models..." but whether "it truly matches the properties of liquid water," requires more research. And there is more to learn.A scientist not involved in the actual work is quoted. "'Liquid water is a strange material. We still don't know as much about it as we'd like."' And if this new kind of ice has a real connection to liquid water," another scientist commented "it could imply that this model is incorrect. It could open up a new chapter in ice research."

And in the "so what" category and whether it has any use. It could "for understanding other worlds," including the "potential habitability of liquid - water oceans and places on moons scattered around the solar system, "is where life could emerge." The report was published in Science to which there is a link. It will be membership restricted but there will be an abstract and information about the authors which you can browse.

Scientists make great use of models, once they have some data, to test whether a research finding is supported or not. If not, it can be revised, thus getting them closer to truth in the construction of the next model.

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