“Stop! Stop! Danger Will Robinson!”

     We have all – well, most of us – known the frustration of trying to scrape a thick sheet of ice off a windshield. It can test the patience of the most patient man, especially if the temperature and the snow are still falling and he forgot to bring gloves that day. Continental New Yorkers know the trial well. Many a windshield has been starred or shattered in the resulting fury, especially if the sufferer is late for an appointment or desperate to “beat the rush.” In this piece at LifeHacker, writer A. A. Newton proposes a dangerous expedient:

     If you’ve ever tried to scrape a thick layer of hard ice off your windshield, you know that the hardest part is getting under it; until you can get a corner of the scraper blade in between your window and the ice, it’s not going anywhere. This is exactly why most ice scrapers have ridges on one side of the blade. You’re supposed to use them to “score” the surface of the ice. It’s almost like perforating a piece of paper you want to tear cleanly; scoring the surface breaks up the tension, which makes it significantly easier to scrape off with the flat side. I had no idea that’s what the ridges were for, but in my defense, I was never any good at physics.

     I added the emphasis. What is this writer about? Is he unaware that perforating a sheet of something can, and often does, make it stronger? Has he never tried to tear a check from a checkbook and ripped it askew? Has he never attempted to separate the “Return this part with payment” from the rest and had it tear perversely across the perforation? Has he never tried to tear off a length of toilet paper and…well, you get the idea.

     When it comes to windshield ice, imagine the many ways perforation could go wrong. Some would require replacing the whole windshield. In his story “It Was Nothing – Really!” the late Theodore Sturgeon explored this phenomenon to its ultimate conclusion. The wise would heed his warning. Beware!

1 comment

  1. Where he got me was insisting that whacking stubborn ice was a good idea.

    He is apparently not aware of the brittleness of cold materials.

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