|An image of an ice crystal. Notice the "hexagonal stable structure"
of the crystal.|
According to Professor Somorjai, the "quasi-fluid"
or "water-like" layer exists on the surface of the ice and may
be thicker or thinner depending on temperature. At about 250 degrees below
zero Fahrenheit (-157 centigrade), the ice has a slippery layer one molecule
thick. As the ice is warmed, the number of these slippery layers increases.
This may help explain in part the difference between "fast ice"
and "slow ice." As the number of layers increases, the players'
skates need to "slosh" through more of these "water-like"
layers; more friction occurs in these conditions, slowing the players down.
These extra layers would also "soften" a landing for a figure
skater--who skates on warmer ice than a hockey player. There is more on
the structure of this "quasi-fluid" layer at the beginning of
the "Skating" section. But before we get too technical, let's
examine how ice is made.
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