July 6th 2008
Some time ago I bought these silicone ice cube trays from Ikea. Ice cube tray a very serious misnomer, because the ice that comes out of these things is anything but cubes. But the ice is in fun shapes (I got the arrows and crosses), so it’s a little sad to see that the Ikea PLASTIS line of ice-making molds is no longer in stock (nb: you can still purchase a very similar item from Amazon).
So I’ve been making humorously-shaped ice for quite a while now, and the other day I was torn between using ice arrows or ice crosses to cool my tasty beverage. At this very moment I questioned which shape would cool my drink more quickly. That is, does the ice arrow or the ice cross have more surface area?
It’s a pretty simple problem to solve, and anyone who graduated from Jr. High geometry should be able to figure it out in less than 5 minutes. I present here the precise measurements that are necessary to get the answer. My solution is here (spoiler alert!). I hope you agree.
This train of thought led me to conclude that an ice shape that would cool your drink most quickly would be one with the maximal possible surface area in a given volume. If only someone could engineer a tray that makes ice in the shape of a high-order icosahedron. That would get your drink cold in no time flat. Or better yet, something approaching a fractional dimension, where you’d probably need advanced degrees in math to even predict the cooling effects of such a hypothetical ice shape on a beverage.
That is all.