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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