Brrr! It’s a winter wonderland out there.
A mysterious substance thrives in cold temperatures—frost. Oh, you heard of it, right? The stuff you have to scrape off your car windshield every damn morning (if you happen to be an unlucky individual).
Frost is often ignored, and for good reason.
Why would any sane person want to take a closer look at something which usually causes a minor inconvenience?
Snow gets all the attention. You can ski on snow, even sled! When is the last time someone skied on frost? “Hey Jim! Let’s go hit the slopes! There’s a powdery layer of frost on the trails.” Yeah. You’ll never hear anyone say that lovely line.
You’ll hear this: “Damn it, Jim! I have to warm up the car. Frost. You understand.”
Frost looks like what you’d expect up-close. Sort of. There are a few types of structures: ice pillars and crystals. Both are made of ice. Obviously. So…where exactly is the frost? I know what you’re thinking, but bear with me. If frost is nothing more than a complex icy structure, then why don’t we just call frost…ummm…ice?
Is it the pretty pattern? or is there a fundamental difference between frost and ice? Frost is ice, but ice is not necessarily frost. So…where is the line drawn? When does frost officially start to become ice?
Frost also seems to spread across a surface like a cold vine. Linear icy lanes often form and crisscross. This process eventually takes over the whole object, especially a glass window. The icy lanes are often ornamented with spiky limbs. The structures look like a pine tree. Sort of.
Weird objects can sprout from frost. Take a look.
Those are icy pillars rising from a lane of frost. Pretty cool, huh? (pun intended, of course). The ice pillars are delicate. They tend to topple over, or will lean upon each other and create a lattice like structure. Bits of icy crystals also form along lanes of frost, but they could be immature ice pillars.
If you slip and fall on you ass this holiday season, then ponder this question while you’re crying on the ground: what is the difference between ice and frost?
After-all: you can slip on ice but you can’t slip on frost. But they’re pretty much the same thing. Sort of.
(Frost images taken with reverse-coupled macro photography)