The Pros And Cons Of Ice Skating

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Ice skating is a recreational activity that can also be a part of high level Olympic competition. It seems natural when watching someone on the ice gliding so effortlessly, but why is this possible? They are gliding on a solid surface after all. When thinking about solids, slippery is probably not a common word to associate with. However, in the case of ice this happens to be true. Looking at the properties of states of matter, properties of water, and experiments of water and ice, there is some evidence that makes this a bit of a complex case.
In Chemistry, we generally refer to three states of matter when trying to describe a substance; solid, liquid, and gas. Each of these three states of matter has their own properties and behaviors.
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First off, water has a very high boiling point, one hundred degrees Celsius, relative to its small molecular weight at roughly eighteen grams. Water requires more energy to break hydrogen bonds before it can boil. Freezing works the same way as boiling, but in reverse since it is going to colder temperatures, zero degrees Celsius to freeze, rather than hotter. These extremes in freezing and boiling points allow the molecules to freeze or boil very slowly. Another unique property of water is surface tension. Aside from mercury, water has the highest surface tension of all liquids. The reason why water’s surface tension is high is because of the hydrogen bonding in water. Water also has a very high heat of vaporization sitting at forty-one kJ/mol. Vapor pressure and intermolecular forces are inversely related, water has very strong intermolecular forces which results in low vapor pressure. Viscosity is the property of a fluid having high resistance to flow. One of the common substances that has a high viscosity is honey, however water is also viscous relative to other substances. When a liquid has a stronger intermolecular interaction, then that liquid is known to be more viscous. Cohesion is intermolecular forces between like molecules, water molecules are very cohesive due to the polarity of the molecules. An example of this is being able to fill a glass of water barely above the …show more content…
Looking at hockey players and figure skaters, we can start to get a clearer answer. One notion called pressure melting, creates a thin layer of liquid water. This is explained as a skater’s weight exerting a great deal of pressure per square inch of ice that causes ice to drop its melting point. Furthermore, ice is less dense than water, this lower density of the ice means that the melting point of ice can be lowered below the normal zero degrees Celsius by squeezing it. Increasing the pressure also reduces the volume available; Le Chatelier’s Principle, states if a system in equilibrium is disturbed by temperature, pressure, and concentration of components, the system will shift its equilibrium position to balance the effect of the disturbance (Norwich). Le Chatelier’s Principle will favor the melting of water to balance out the loss of volume caused by the pressure. James Thomason in 1850, suggested a few of these ideas when he calculated that a pressure of 466 atmospheres would coincide with a melting pressure of negative three and a half degrees Celsius. However, he was not able to explain how skaters could slide at temperatures colder than negative three and a half degrees Celsius. Frank P. Bowden and T.P. Hughes suggested that this was due to friction instead of pressure. They conducted an experiment in Switzerland where the temperatures never rose above negative degrees Celsius. They managed to lower

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