Ice Slips Through Water

Ice-coated metal balls of varying densities fall through water.
The faster a ball moves, the less turbulent drag it generates. The less drag it has, the faster it can move. This dependence leads to a phenomenon called the drag crisis.

August 27, 2015

Scientists studying fluid dynamics recently discovered that a thin coating of ice is enough to significantly improve a metal object’s ability to move smoothly through a fluid. While the smooth and slippery nature of the ice is undoubtedly helpful, the researchers determined that the majority of the ice coating's turbulence-minimizing effects come from the way it melts while moving through a warmer fluid. By adding red dye to the ice, scientists were able to visualize the flow of water around the objects and observe differences in wake width as the bodies moved at different speeds.