Supercooling Thermodynamics

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In the latest Gastrofiscia episode, Tippe Top Physics takes on thermodynamics and the complicated truth behind certain phase changes. Although we’re accustomed to thinking of water freezing at 0 degrees Celsius and boiling at 100 degrees Celsius, reality is more complex, and temperature is only one of the factors that goes into a change of phase. Pressure and purity also play an important role. 

This is why it’s possible, for instance, to supercool purified water to below 0 degrees Celsius without freezing it. Liquid water needs a nucleus to serve as a seed for its freezing. Without dust or other impurities, it takes a lot of energy for water to spontaneously generate its own nucleus. Check out the full video to see how and why that’s so. (Image and video credit: Tippe Top Physics)

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