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7 Fun Cold Weather Activities Beyond Snowmen

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Getty Images

When the mercury drops, you might be tempted to stay inside, but what's the fun in that? Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures may be hard on your heating bill, but there are plenty of fun things to do outside. Just make sure to dress warmly, beware of walking on slippery ice, and take breaks to warm up inside.  


Bubbles are typically a warm weather activity, but they can be just as fun in freezing temperatures. If it's cold enough, you can blow soap bubbles and watch them freeze before they pop! Instructables member pi526 has a recipe for homemade bubble liquid, and tips for getting photographs of those neat creations. Depending on the temperature, you might be able to watch ice crystals form while they freeze. Bubbles that come into contact with a surface will freeze if they don't pop first. They might pop in the process of freezing, which leaves fascinating shapes to study, or they might freeze completely and then break to resemble a broken glass Christmas ornament. Or you might see your bubbles still frozen the next day.


The temperature outside has to be pretty cold to make instant snow out of boiling water. If you live where winter temperatures drop way below freezing, you might want to try this. When Yan recorded this video the thermometer read -13°F (-25°C). Bring water to a boil in a pan or coffee cup, and take it outside and throw it in the air. Be sure to throw it away from you, so you don't get burned. When the rapidly-evaporating water vapor hits the cold air, it turns to snow. It has to be hot water, close to its gaseous form, to disperse well. Cooler water will just splash in droplets and then freeze on the ground. See it happen at -40°, as a man in Russia creates a several-stories tall snow cloud.  


Naturally-formed ice has an unpredictable strength. Pykrete is ice formed by freezing water with a content of 14 percent wood pulp. The wood fibers strengthen the ice and make it much harder to shatter. Pykrete also melts at a much slower rate than ice. It was developed by Geoffrey Pyke, who envisioned ships made of pykrete in World War II. Alan Pan used pykrete to mold a huge ice sword—complete with embedded LEDs. Watch him try some experiments to test its strength above. You, too, can be smashing watermelons in the middle of winter.


Maple syrup taffy is candy made from maple syrup cooled to the consistency of taffy on a bed of freshly fallen snow. You can do this outside, or inside if you work quickly. Here's a recipe, although you might want to use popsicle sticks instead of your fingers—especially if you plan to share it.


While on winter vacation in Edmonton, Alberta, Daniel Gray and Kathleen Starrie of New Zealand made colored bricks of snow, water, and food dye packed into milk cartons and set them outside to freeze. They used around 500 of the bricks to build this Technicolor igloo. You can see pictures of the process and the finished product in this album.


Sledding is a great winter activity, but if you have more kids than sleds, you may have to get creative. In freezing weather, you can make solid items out of fabric with a little water and time. The folks at Minnesota Cold formed a sled out of a towel, and it works just fine. Minnesota Cold has a series of freezing weather activities to try at your own risk.


Water is supercooled when it gets below freezing temperature without turning to solid ice. Pure filtered or distilled water can stay liquid below freezing because it lacks the mineral particles that act as "seeds" for crystallization. That's what happened to this guy when he left bottles in his vehicle overnight. But when you bump the bottle good enough, it causes air bubbles to seed the ice crystals, which immediately spread throughout the container. If it's cold enough, you can watch an entire bottle freeze up in seconds! Get a closer look at the crystallization here. You can do this experiment indoors, too.

Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images
The World's Best Scrunchies Are From Zurich. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says So.
Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

The scrunchie is back in fashion, but for some, the hair accessory never went away. That includes Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice and pop culture heavyweight long known for her lacy collars and fancy jabots.

Ginsburg's longtime scrunchie look has gone underappreciated for years, but now, The Wall Street Journal reports (as we saw in The Hollywood Reporter) that her collection of the grandiose hair accessory is growing almost as large as her stockpile of trademark collars.

Where does a Supreme Court justice get her scrunchies, you ask? As you might expect, Justice Ginsburg doesn't run down to Claire's or Urban Outfitters for her hair ties. RBG fans trying to copy her look will need to grab their passports and buy a plane ticket to do so.

"My best scrunchies come from Zurich," she told The Wall Street Journal, no doubt sending a certain type of fashion-loving law student off to research flight prices to Switzerland. "Next best, London," she decreed, "and third best, Rome." (Do we think the justice pays $195 for her luxury scrunchies?)

Ginsburg—whose other trademark accessories include a purse-sized copy of the Constitution, which she carries everywhere—may not be single-handedly bringing back the '90s fashion trend, but she's certainly a great argument for the fluffy fabric hair ties being the perfect professional look. If it's good enough for the Supreme Court and visits to Congress, it's definitely good enough for the cubicle.

[h/t The Hollywood Reporter]

Fictional Place Names Are Popping Up On Road Signs in Didcot, England

Driving along the highway in Didcot, England, you may notice something strange: the road signs point the way to places like Neverland and Middle-earth.

The names of these and other fictional locales from literature were seamlessly added to road signs by an artist/prankster using Transport Medium, the official font of British road signs.

After some sleuthing, BBC News found the man responsible, who spoke to the outlet on the condition of anonymity. He told the BBC that he's been orchestrating "creative interventions" all over England for about 20 years under different pseudonyms, and that this project was a reaction to Didcot being labeled "the most normal town in England" in 2017, which rubbed him the wrong way. "To me there's nowhere that's normal, there's no such thing, but I thought I'd have a go at changing people's perceptions of Didcot," he said of the town, which he describes as a "fun" and "funky" place.

Oxfordshire County Council isn't laughing; it told the BBC that although the signs were "on the surface amusing," they were "vandalism" and potentially dangerous, since it would be hard for a driver who spotted one not to do a double take while their eyes were supposed to be on the road. Even so, thanks to routine council matters, the signs are safe—at least for now—as the Council says that it is prioritizing fixing potholes at the moment.

Jackie Billington, Didcot's mayor, recognizes that the signs have an upside. "If you speak to the majority of people in Didcot they're of the same opinion: it's put Didcot on the map again," he told BBC News. "Hopefully they'll be up for a couple of weeks."

There are five altered signs in total. If you fancy a visit to the Emerald City, you're pointed toward Sutton Courtenay. Narnia neighbors a power station. And Gotham City is on the same route as Oxford and Newbury (and not, apparently, in New Jersey, as DC Comics would have you believe). If you want to go see the signs for yourself before they disappear, you'll find them along the A4130 to Wallingford.

See the signs here and in the video below.

[h/t BBC News]


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