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The Science Behind Why You Can Make Snow—Even When It's Above Freezing

Snow is one of the environment's greatest magic tricks, but when Mother Nature's not quite meeting demands, the folks at Hafjell ski resort in Lillehammer, Norway, take matters into their own hands.

While visiting the ski village for the 2016 Youth Winter Olympic Games, YouTuber Tom Scott tackled the science of making snow. The ski resort features about 250 snow guns that pump out the powdery stuff in the form of a well-planned blizzard, keeping the slopes in skiable condition.

The most interesting thing about the snow machines? They work even when the temperature is above freezing. Water and air are forced through nozzles to create a fine mist, and that mist becomes powder instead of rain due to evaporation. When a water droplet evaporates, it pulls in heat from the surrounding environment and cools droplets around it. That process creates nucleation sites and the beginning of snowflake production. If that’s not enough, proteins can also be added to aid the process.

The drier the air, the more water that can evaporate into it, which means that if it’s dry enough, you can actually make snow even if the temperature is above freezing. The converse is also true—high humidity means the temperature needs to be very low, which, as Scott says, is why you’ll never be able to operate a snow gun in the summer.

Hafjell takes its water—a sum of about 30,000 liters (8000 gallons) a minute during a normal season—from lakes at the top of the mountain. See how they recreate the magic in the video above.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Images via YouTube.

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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