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Celebrating Winter Communities

Celebrating Winter Communities


Recently the people of Edmonton have flocked to a new attraction in our part of the world, an ice castle. This edifice features glassy walls that are up to 3 metres thick. There are arching chambers, tunnels, a fountain with liquid water, and slides that the adventurous can ride down on their bottoms. The whole structure weighs about 27,200 tonnes and covers 1 acre. By the time spring comes, about 38 million litres of water will have been used to build and maintain this winter wonder.

During the building phase, water was sprayed every evening onto metal racks. Workers harvested the resulting icicles and then used these as foundations for the walls. The workers then sprayed more water to cement the icicles and increase the size of the structure. The ice castle is certainly a man-made object, but the building material that gives this structure its artistic cachet, comes entirely from the amazing properties of water. Man did not create or design water, God did. We merely benefit from how water works.

Consider that when water freezes, at 0 degrees C, it expands and actually becomes less dense than liquid water. All water ice on earth’s surface is a hexagonal crystalline structure. It can be transparent if it is very pure, but when it contains bubbles or sediment, then it assumes a bluish colour. The thicker the ice, the deeper is the blue appearance. Freezing water sticks to ice which is already present, so icicles and ice formations can be built up by adding more water at cold temperatures. And the hard texture of solid ice allows for the creation of the artistic effects.  Scientists are not totally sure what gives ice its slippery quality, but they suspect it has something to do with melting of a thin layer from friction as an object moves over its surface (as in skating, sliding and skidding).  So even in the depths of winter, we can observe the wonderful works of the Creator. On this occasion we are observing some properties of ice and snow.

When you go outside this winter, see if you can observe any beautiful hexagonally shaped snow flakes. Car windshields are sometimes a good place to view these when it is snowing. Perhaps too, you will observe some of the wildlife that manages so well even when the thermometer plummets. That these creatures can survive, is another wonderful design feature,  which comes from the hand of God. Perhaps you would like to make a list of wonderful things you observe outside during the cold days of winter. You will certainly have some interesting and inspiring information to share with your friends!

March 2016

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