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No. 100: Jul-Aug 1995

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Weird Icicles

Prism-like vertical icicle growing from a birdbath in Sussex
Prism-like vertical icicle growing from a birdbath in Sussex, December 21, 1992.
The British journal Weather has published two more photos of upside-down icicles. We reproduce one that is typical of the genre. [Another growing at an angle from a birdbath is sketched on SF#79.] In the formation of such icicles, liquid water is somehow forced upward from a reservoir through a central channel. As it reaches the top, it freezes. If this is indeed the mechanism, why do these upside-down icicles usually form crystal-like prisms with flat sides?

(Bjørbaek, Gustav; "Unusual Ice Formations," Weather, 50:188, 1995.)

Delightfully, the plot becomes more twisted with a beautiful horizontal helical icicle that was photographed in New Zealand. This truly strange icicle looks like a horizontal bedspring 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. There are eight complete turns in the helix. It has grown several times from a hairline crack in a handrail support which fills with water during a rainstorm.

(Dowden, Richard, et al; "Helical Icicle," Weather, 49:435, 1994.)

From Science Frontiers #100, JUL-AUG 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987