The Excellence of Snow – 2.11.22

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff,

Speaking of ice, which terrifies me, do you know how salt gets rid of it? There is something called ‘freezing point depression’ that’s the wonderful piece of chemistry involved. The idea is that when enough salt is added, the salt molecules stop water molecules from finding each other, so they can’t join to make ice crystals. It doesn’t have to be salt, and some animals make their own type of antifreeze proteins to survive extreme cold. You can truly appreciate the power of freezing point depression in an icy New England February!

Snow, on the other hand, gets the prize for most fun form of precipitation. How fantastic are crisp snowflakes, that melt on your tongue as they fall. How peaceful and soft is a gentle snowstorm, how protective of plants and animals who sleep or run under the snow. Growing up in South Africa, there was snow only once. It was one inch, but so amazing that the principal allowed us to wear boots to school next day, rather than the regulation lace-up shoes. Now, snow is on my top five list of favorite New England things.

Of course, snow and ice are both excellent when it comes to sports. I love the Olympics, and even the strict precautions this year did not dampen the excitement. Every athlete demonstrates the power and beauty of the human body at its peak. The speed of super G, thrilling half pipe, extraordinary freestyle jumps, and of course, the stunning form of figure skaters. Wow.  We have our own amazing athletes at Northeastern and will be cheering the Huskies in the Beanpot final next Monday!

Science is the Olympics of discovery and application. The teacher who constructs a course with elegance and insight, the researcher addressing a question with stunning logic and brilliant interpretation, are some of our Gold Medalists. Often, we play team sports, working together to the finish line of scientific solutions. Excellence in Science is as breath-taking as Chloe Kim’s half-pipe skill or Nathan Chen’s quads. It’s what we work towards. But we know that in the Olympics, most athletes win no medals, and even being able to stay upright while skating on your local rink counts a lot! Everyone’s contribution is award-winning when it comes to promoting excellence in our College and at Northeastern University, across teaching, research, and expert administration. Thank you everyone for participating in the Winter Olympics of Science!

Have a pleasant weekend.
Best regards,

dean signature

Hazel Sive PhD
Dean, College of Science
Northeastern University