You can skate on it, you can put it in drinks and it covers about 10% of the Earth’s surface – ice. It has some surprising behaviour and uses.
You might be surprised to know that water doesn’t always freeze at 0° Celsius. Ice needs something to form around, such as dust. If there is nothing for it to freeze around, you can lower the temperature of water down to –42° Celsius before it freezes. Another surprising fact is that hot water freezes more quickly than cold water. Aristotle was the first person to notice this in the fourth century BC, but it was Tanzanian schoolboy Erasto Mpemba who proved it in 1963 by demonstrating that a hot ice cream mixture freezes faster than a cold mixture. Scientists still don’t know why this happens.
Ice became very popular in London in the 19th century, a long time before people had fridges. The ice produced in the UK was not of good quality and there wasn’t enough, so it was imported from Lake Wenham in the USA. To show that the ice was good quality, a shop in London put a block of ice in their window every day with a newspaper behind it. The ice was so clear that you could read the newspaper through the ice and crowds of people came to see it every day.
Ice is also used to build things. Possibly the first ice structure was the Ice Palace in Saint Petersburg in 1740, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the reign of the Empress of Russia, Anna Ioannovna. The Ice Palace had ice furniture and ice sculptures, including two elephants. As part of the celebration there was also a pretend ‘wedding’ of couples in traditional costumes from different areas of Russia. In 2006, ice artists recreated the Ice Palace using three tons of ice, but this time there were real weddings in the Ice Palace!
Another use of ice is for entertainment. When it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, there are ice festivals and ice sculpture competitions in many countries including Japan, Russia, Canada and Finland. Possibly the most famous is the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in China, which attracts ice sculptors from more than 20 countries and displays around 2,000 ice sculptures, including sculptures of famous people, animals and famous buildings like the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China.
Read the article and decide if the sentences are true or false.
1. Water always freezes at 0° Celsius.
2. Aristotle demonstrated that hot water freezes faster than cold water.
3. The UK couldn’t produce enough ice for their needs in the 19th century.
4. The ice from Lake Wenham was very clear.
5. The Ice Palace in St Petersburg celebrated the 1st anniversary of a Russian Empress.
6. There was a real wedding in the Ice Palace in 1740.
7. The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival has international sculptors.
Match the words with the definitions.
a) ice bucket
b) black ice
c) ice cap
e) Ice Age
1 a period of time thousands of years ago when large areas of the Earth were covered in ice __________
2 a large area of ice that covers the land and sea around the North or South Pole __________
3 a dangerous layer of ice that is difficult to see on a road or path __________
4 a very large piece of ice floating in the sea, most of which is below the surface __________
5 a container for keeping small pieces of ice or bottles in to keep them cold __________
Now complete the sentences using one of the nouns above.
1 You should drive carefully in winter when there is __________ on the roads.
2 The ship hit an __________ and sank.
3 Large areas of the Earth were covered in ice for thousands of years during the __________ .
4 If the drinks aren’t very cold, put them in an __________ to get cold.
5 At the North and South Poles, there are __________ covering the land and sea.