Mar 5, 2021

Astrophysicist Neil De Grasse Shows Why Snow Doesn’t Melt When On A Flame


De Grasse posted the explainer videos on to his TikTok channel where he has three million followers and over 28,000,000 likes for his content.

The astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium director talked about why snow doesn't melt and run down your arms when you heat it up with a naked flame.

He said: "Some of you are trying to do what? You're trying to melt a snowball with a cigarette lighter? No, no, excuse me. You can't and you're having problems? It's not cosmic sorcery - it's called physics."

He goes on to take the temperature of a snowball before doing what many magicians do and proving that the lighter he is using is real.

It's a real lighter. Credit: TikTok/neildegrassetyson
It's a real lighter. Credit: TikTok/neildegrassetyson

As he burns a piece of paper (catching his fingertips at the same time - be careful, Neil) he asks: "Would you take a lighter and try to cook a baked potato that way? No of course not, because that would take too long.

"Here goes a snowball. The snow is at about 20 degrees, I take this [the lighter] you can hear the flame there and no, it's slowly raising the temperature from 20 to 21, to 22, it's not going to melt until it hits 32 degrees and when it does, only then will it melt and I'm not patient enough to wait around for that to happen."

One know it all replied to the video saying: "It's sad that some people don't understand simple science and this it's some conspiracy."

Another added: "World renowned physicist. Holds tiny pieces of paper next to fire. 'Ow'."

Ow. Credit: TikTok/neildegrassetyson
Ow. Credit: TikTok/neildegrassetyson

A third viewer wrote: "'I don't have patience for it' isn't a great answer," and Neil answered: "This lighter is raising the temperature of the ice until it reaches freezing and that takes time because this [holds snowball up] can suck way more energy that this [holds lighter up] is giving it at any one moment.

"So here it is, it's not going to melt and any little bit that does melt will just get absorbed back up because of capillary action - little bit of chemistry there for you too.

"So no, nothing is melting here. It's temperature is rising, eventually it'll melt but I don't have that much patience. I'm not waiting for that to happen. So there, it's not magic, it's physics."

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