All of Maine (and parts of the country and even the globe) this week has been fixated on the giant, rotating “ice disk” currently occupying part of the Presumpscot River in downtown Westbrook.
Appearing as what many have described as “alien,” scientists are scrambling to identify what could have caused the strange formation and — even more perplexing — its counter-clockwise rotation.
University of Southern Maine (USM) associate professor of physics Paul Nakroshis weighed in on the matter with Maine Public on their program “Maine Things Considered.”
Nakroshis speculates the formation, which is estimated to be about 100 yards across, could be the result of the aggregation of small bits of ice that, once they start rotating, attach onto other small bits and grow in size.
It’s possible the formation is rotating because of river water moving past it, leading it to spin continuously, he said.
“It’s always interesting, I think, to see interesting natural phenomena that seem unusual, and learning about what the physics is that describes that only adds to the interest I think, and there are a lot of interesting questions that one could pursue,” Nakroshis told Maine Public reporter Nora Flaherty. “It would be interesting to know, what is the topography underneath the river where that disk is? What’s the temperature of the water there? Are there any special currents in that particular location? All of these are interesting questions that contribute to understanding why that particular disk formed and rotates in the way it does.”
Listen to the full interview on Maine Public.