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On the first episode of Netflix Lost in Space,

Judy get's stuck on ice while trying to get a battery inside submerged Jupiter.

Accordingly to what was said on the episode, we know:

  • The planet's environment: "earth-like atmosphere, air-pressure and gravity"
  • The lake's depth: "once the water freezes, the Jupiter's gonna be locked in 50 feet of solid ice."
  • The temperature: "in six hours, the sun's gonna go down, and indications are, it will drop to 60 degrees below zero"

So, given this information, is it possible for water to freeze so quickly like that?

  • 7
    This might be better on Physics.SE – Paulie_D Apr 16 '18 at 17:55
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    It's pretty obvious anything resembling real-world physics was not a priority for the show. I'd note that the credits at imdb.com/title/tt5232792/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast don't list any sort of science consultant, and no reference shows up when I Google. – jeffronicus Apr 16 '18 at 21:36
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    Here's my question on Physics.SE: physics.stackexchange.com/q/400243/192840 – Marcos Tanaka Apr 17 '18 at 14:33
  • But, is it water ? Yeah they called it water... but we are talking about people you assume the air is safe because one of them was in contact of it for 10 minutes.. incubation period guys ? – dna Apr 17 '18 at 15:30
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    The "water" froze only minutes after the mother says "In 6 hours ... it will drop to 60 degrees below 0." (and it didn't get dark until after the father returned with the magnesium) so there must be something else that prompted the rapid freezing. – Oliver_C Apr 17 '18 at 18:16
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It's not possible

The problem is that ice is a very good insulator, so the thicker the ice, the better the insulation is. The time for increasing the thickness of ice increases in fact quadratically: 1 cm in 1 day means 2cm in 4 days, 3 cm in 9 days.

This is the reason fishes can survive in big garden lakes with depths of 1.5 - 2 m even in extremely harsh winters.

Assuming that the explorers use centigrade, -60°C is pretty cold and can freeze the surface in a depth of few cms pretty fast. But 50 feet (yeah, the explorers still use thumb widths and kings feet) needs years.

  • Not to mention if it was that cold, the family would not have survived up on the surface with uncovered heads – Majaii Apr 17 '18 at 13:59
  • The thickness of ice isn't increasing quadratically in time, time is increasing quadracrically in thickness of ice. – Acccumulation Apr 17 '18 at 19:56
  • @Acccumulation: Thanks, corrected it. – Thorsten S. Apr 17 '18 at 20:22
  • It’s a really terrible show. Could barely get through two episodes. – M.Mat Apr 19 '18 at 10:40
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Also water freezes from the top down, not the bottom up. As Thorsten pointed out you can have a frozen lake with fish swimming around under the ice. So the surface should have been the first thing to freeze, not the last.

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50 feet is 15 metres. Baikal lake speed of the ice growing is 1 to 5 cm a day. Even if we assume (wrongly) that growth is constant it would take 300 days to freeze water to such depth.

The only way to speed up the process would be super cooling so the water is somehow carbohydrated by day and with night it loose all bubbles and turn solid.

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it's not just that what baffles me: if there was water when they crash landed, either the day must have been incredibly long, allowing so much ice to melt, or it must have been boiling hot during the day, which clearly wasnt the case. This is so poorly thought thru, it barely qualifies as sci-fi. Just -fi.

Just forgot to mention, it rained at some point after the sudden freezing!?

And so why did they not freeze? A human is 90 percent or so water. Why is the freezing confined to the water around the ship??

  • The planet is shown to be very weird and has weather/life/etc. cycles very different from Earth's. Extreme and sudden temperature changes are the least of their established problems within just a few episodes. I had personally assumed that the heat of the ship had melted the glacier beneath it, but then why there was such a nice, powdery, not-apparently-melted-at-all crash path up to that point...Well, it's Lost In Space, as they say. – zibadawa timmy May 28 '18 at 4:04
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It's not impossible, but certainly would not happen in the manner depicted in the show. The water would need to be supercooled in order to freeze in the manner depicted, and if it was approaching -60C, that's approaching the limit of even supercooled water to remain liquid. Water reaching temperatures that low must be incredibly pure (aka not polluted by spaceship debris and dust from the impact), and all of Judy's kicking and movement would have disturbed the water and caused it to begin freezing around her first.

I believe that the inspiration for this episode comes from several urban legends about lakes in Switzerland, the U.S. or Russia snap-freezing and trapping horses or people in the ice (the details depend on the retelling).

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