Cincy Science: Asphalt that melts like butter? The 'fried egg on sidewalk' trick? When hot is hot!

Ever ask, "What is that?" Or, "Why is that?" In our "Cincy Science" feature, we talk with people who can answer those questions: The folks who do science in Cincinnati and the Tri-State.

The first day of summer is June 21. And with late spring temps already flirting with hot, we wondered how hot it has to get to--say--fry an egg on the sidewalk or melt asphalt.

To get some insight into the effect of searing heat and how to be aware of potential repercussions, we consulted University of Cincinnati distinguished professor of chemistry, Bruce Ault.

Just how hot...?

1. So from a chemistry perspective I guess excessive heat impacts a number of substances outdoors, say for instance asphalt?

I know exactly what you mean. It applies here as well, but when I grew up as a kid in the California desert, when asphalt gets hot it gets really soft, so soft the kickstand on my bike would simply sink into it. That's exactly what's happening, it's not like an ice cube that's melts at a definite temperature. 

It's more like a stick of butter if we leave out, it will melt over a range of temperatures. Asphalt does the same thing because it's a mixture of chemicals, but it gets softer and goes into a liquid like or nearly liquid like state that can have ramifications for things that are parked on it or driving on it.

Become a WCPO Insider to read the full Q&A and get the answers to your burning questions about heat. Plus, learn how Duke Energy get customers ready for summer's blast?


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