Puzzlers #4. Winter Puzzler

Even though it is difficult to imagine when temperatures are so high here, there are places in the world that are experiencing winter.  Take for example Fairbanks, Alaska where a month long,  –40 C cold snap is not uncommon for January.  At –40 C (the temperature by the way, where the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet) the contents of a cup of hot coffee when tossed into the air crystallizes before hitting the ground.  The same is not true for a cup of cold coffee.  How can that be?  Do your best to explain your answer.

Concepts involved:

  • heat transfer, (rate of) cooling, temperature difference (advanced concept: Newton’s law of cooling)

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