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About the Mpemba Effect


The Mpemba effect continues to captivate scientists with its complex interplay of physical mechanisms.


Facts for Prelims

Mpemba Effect: Hot Water’s Peculiar Freezing Quirk

Origin and Discovery:

  • Named after Tanzanian student Erasto Mpemba who, in 1969, brought attention to this curious phenomenon that defies conventional expectations.

Counterintuitive Observation:

  • The Mpemba effect defies intuition by asserting that hot water can freeze faster than cold water under similar conditions.

Historical Recognition:

  • While Aristotle, Francis Bacon, and René Descartes had noted this effect centuries earlier, it gained scientific attention more recently due to Mpemba’s observations.

Diverse Experiments:

  • Numerous experiments have been conducted to understand the causes, but a consensus conclusion remains elusive.
  • Microbubbles Hypothesis: One proposed cause is microbubbles left suspended in boiled water, promoting convection and facilitating faster heat transfer during cooling.
  • Evaporation Impact: Warmer water’s higher evaporation rate contributes to enhanced convection and accelerated heat transfer due to lower density.
  • Frost as an Insulator: Presence of frost in cold water may act as an insulator, slowing heat loss.
  • Compounds in Water: Consideration of compounds like calcium carbonate precipitating and dissolving, influencing the freezing point.

-Source: The Hindu

March 2024