Ice Science a Slippery Quandary for Physicists

9:53 minutes

For years, the popular theory on how skates glide across the ice held that the pressure of the skater’s blade created a layer of meltwater. Physicists now say it would take a gargantuan skater to create enough pressure to melt ice. Instead, they say, slipperiness results from friction, and the strange quasi-water layer that exists on the surface of ice. Friction researcher and avid curler Robert Carpick discusses the tricky physics of ice.

Thanks to KUER for their help on this Olympic series.

Segment Guests

Robert Carpick

Robert Carpick is professor and chair of the department of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

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