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Tuesday 2 October 2012

Science Competition

I discover in The Times this morning that a science competition has been running to explain why a beaker of boiling water freezes more quickly than one of cold. It seems that science has only recently accepted this fact of common experience, and no one is sure why. They had expected about 200 entries, but received over 20,000. Therefore (as from mid-day today), they are inviting visitors to their site to help them choose the winner from a mass of songs, poems, dissertations of all sorts. Too late for the comp', I offer my humble solution here. The website, should you want to to take a peek, is at www.rsc.org/mpemba-competition/
Imagine two roads side by side,
a motorway, a country lane,
the cars are running parallel
but at vastly different speeds.
On the highway and the byway,
both at the same time,
we find a driver fluttering his brakes.

On the highway and the byway
the cars behind brake hard.
Those on the country lane slow down,
but on the motorway, Oh dear!
There's chaos and confusion
and prangs and bangs galore.
They're frozen to a stop.

Now think of matter for a moment.
(Which matter doesn't matter much)
It's mostly space, and in that space
are vehicles - are particles - 
which chase each other round.
It's temperature that sets the pace.
And as for cars on motorways...

too rapid de-acceleration
sets in train a similar confusion. 
The particles collide and jam.
They judder to a freezing stop!
(Okay, they may not judder,
they may not even jam. 
This 'ere's poetry, not science Ma'am!)


Brian Miller said...

haha.....love that poetry is informing on science and i like your theory, works as well as any for me...nice analogy for it as well....if only they had taught science class like this back in the day...smiles.

Mary said...

Your theory is as good as any, in my book. I can't imagine that there would be 20,000 entries on this question. Obviously interest in science is alive and well. (And in poetry too...for some of us!)

kaykuala said...

Inertia, energy and mass in unison. It would be fatal if velocity in invoked. Nicely Dave!


Other Mary said...

I think you have a winner here!

Linda said...

Very well written, Dave!

haricot said...

In your poem everything are quite visible,,,in other words there is reality about it. If I cloud learn science like this.

Dave King said...

I've always thought poetry and science were (are) brothers. I agree that if our science lessons had been a little more poetic...

Yes, 20,000 surprised everyone - hence the emergency appeal to the public to help them pick the winner!

OK, lets keep velocity in its place, then!

Other Mary
Thanks Mary. Good of you to say.

Many thanks for this.

I hear what you say and thank you. I agree with your last point. Science should be stirred with a kittle poetry.

Unknown said...

I really love the poetry in this one. Nice one! It to think it is science.
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Ygraine said...

That is truly amazing, dave.
I would never have thought of it that way. Your analogy makes the subject so interesting!