When water gets cold enough, it turns into ice. But what if the seemingly most-obvious physics lesson you know wasn’t true? What if water just got colder and colder?
Under the right conditions, it can happen. It’s known as “supercooled water,” water that remains liquid even below freezing temperatures. It’s actually two liquids in one.
A study published Thursday in the journal Science investigates the properties of this unusual condition and suggests that there’s more to learn about even the most common of substances on Earth.
Water itself has many odd properties. Greg Kimmel of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has worked with physicist Bruce Kay for the last 25 years studying water, drawn to it not only because of its universal familiarity and many uses but because “as far as liquids go, it is stranger than most,” Kimmel tells Inverse.
As an example, they point to ice cubes. When water freezes, it actually expands, allowing ice cubes to float. “The course of evolution on this planet is different because ice floats,” Kay tells Inverse.