Conspiracy theory offers great opportunity to learn about science!

So, apparently, some people think the snow that fell on Atlanta wasn't actually snow, but some kind of synthetic material dumped on the town by the government in order to cause chaos. The proof: The Atlanta snow won't melt and it turns black when you hold a lighter to it.

Except, that, well, the same stuff will happen to snow when you hold a lighter to it anywhere. In this video, Phil Plait demonstrates the effect in Colorado and explains what's actually going on. The key is that the snow really is melting, you just can't see it. Snow absorbs liquid. Plait has a really good analogy here with snowcones. You pour the syrup on, and the shaved ice absorbs it. Same thing with the snow that's turning to water in the heated snowball. Up to a certain point, the rest of the snow will absorb that water. Heat the ball long enough, though, and you will, eventually, get a puddle. The conspiracy videos just stop well short of that point.

And the burn marks? That's just soot from imperfectly burned butane from the flame itself.

Video Link

Notable Replies

  1. Fef says:

    But... but, CHEMTRAILS!
    Reverse rainbows!
    Other phenomena I've never seen before and am not familiar with!

  2. As a kid I never thought to put a lighter up to a snowball to try and melt it. That now seems like a wasted opportunity, because I would have enjoyed freaking out my friends by trying to convince them the snow wasn't really snow.

    Of course this would just be a ruse to get them close enough for me to put the "charred" snowball down their shirt.

  3. Fef says:

    Also: When I type "CHEMTRAILS" into my phone, it's automatically replaced with "CENTRALIA." Still more proof of a massive conspiracy.

  4. The movie "Idiocracy" was too optimistic. Say hello to our next president Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho!

  5. You've never heard of the difference proposed between condensation trails and chemical trails? The former is a natural consequence of flying at high altitude at a high rate of speed. The latter is a natural consequence of listening to Alex Jones

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