What makes ice slippery? Here is the reason behind the slippery nature of ice!

Why do you think your ice skates are able to float on ice? What makes the ice slippery? The Complutense University of Madrid led a team of international researchers and solved an astonishing mystery. Let’s know more.
What makes ice so slippery? Here's what science says!
What makes ice so slippery? Here's what science says!

There are two types of people in the world. The first type loves winters like anything, and the others just hate the chilling weather. No matter which category one belongs to, everyone is in awe of the beautiful snow. But hey, have you ever slipped in a snow-capped area? If you have, then you must know how slippery the snow is.


Have you ever wondered the reason as to why snow is slippery in nature?


Where a layman ignores the wonders of nature, people who look at things with a rational and scientific approach get curious to know the depths of the mystery. One such team of international researchers has brought forward the answer to this question. The Complutense University of Madrid has led a team of researchers who have made use of computer simulations to observe the movement of the solid that slides over ice at the atomic level.

Where did the simulation take the study?


As per the research by the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), the simulations found state that there is a self-lubricating layer on the surface of the ice. When the surface of ice comes in contact with a solid object, it not only melts but also forms a self-lubricating layer. It is this self-perpetuating lubricating layer that makes the snow slippier. No wonder this layer is responsible for causing skating and car accidents on snowy platforms.


What do the researchers have to say?


The proud researchers explain their analysis in a clear manner. 

“Our analysis of how the ice molecules are collectively organized to give them their peculiar lubricant power offers us a privileged insight into the process that could not be achieved through conventional experiments, given the huge difficulty in conducting an experimental observation of a lubricating layer of a thickness of a billionth of a meter”, states Luis González MacDowell, a UCM Physical Chemistry Department researcher.


The brilliant study got published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.


Is this slipperiness of ice of any use to humans? Well, yes. The slippery nature of ice is used for leisure activities like ice skating and more. Additionally, transportation in snowy areas is also possible due to the slippery texture of the ice.


 “It is important to understand the origin of this widely known property of ice, both in order to improve the performance of Olympic athletes, and to ensure vehicle safety during the winter,” says the expert.


Other universities have also contributed to the study. These are the Marie Curie-Sklodowska University (MCSU) and the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM).

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For how long have researchers been wondering about the slippery nature of ice?

It is not the first time that a group of researchers has studied this phenomenon. It has been two centuries since researchers have been wondering why the ice is slippery. Multiple studies and hypotheses have been formulated in these two centuries.


If that is the case, have other studies so far been fruitful?

Yes. In these two centuries, various researchers like Osborne Reynolds, Michael Faraday, Philip Browden, and James Thomson have brought forward some divergent hypotheses. Most of these hypotheses have been proven right.

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