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In violation of Thermodynamics (Posted on 2003-05-11) Difficulty: 2 of 5
Many have heard the "old wives tale" stating that if you put hot water into a freezer, it freezes in less time than it would have if it had been cold to start. Never did I believe such a claim, as it runs contrary to one of the basic laws of nature.

While surfing one day on sites illustrating "bad science" I actually found a plausible real life reason why this in fact can be true (read:not always true, but possible). Running this experiment under controlled conditions [eg. measure the same volumes of hot and cold water, make sure containers are equal in any relevant aspect (shape, material, conductance properties, covered or not etc.), and that the freezer is properly set to achieve a uniform temperature throughout], can you come up with a reasonable set of conditions for which the water in the hot container would freeze before the water in the cold container?

See The Solution Submitted by Cory Taylor    
Rating: 3.1667 (6 votes)

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Some Thoughts one idea | Comment 14 of 18 |

I heard this claim in the early 70's, supposedly a kid in Africa had discovered it.   But I never heard an explanation.

Here is my set of conditions:
The container is a good conductor of heat, the freezer needs some defrosting such that there is an irregular surface with relatively few points of contact with the container.  Thus hot water warms the container, melts the frost which allows the metal container to make excellent contact with the source of coldness.


  Posted by Larry on 2004-03-09 17:16:39
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