Erasto Mpemba announces RSC competition winner

10 January 2013

The RSC today announced that Croatian Nikola Bregovic has won its worldwide competition to find the best explanation of the famed Mpemba Effect, by which hot water freezes faster than cold water.

In a live video link from its London office to Zagreb, the RSC declared his submission the best of 22,000 received after the competition was set up last summer.

In London to make the announcement was Erasto Mpemba, the Tanzanian who discovered the effect 50 years ago this year when a schoolboy.

His discovery was scorned at first but he pressed his case with Denis Osborne, a British physics lecturer in Tanzania, and they went on to co-write a paper on the effect published in 1969.

The phenomenon has been known since Aristotle failed to explain it and all persons trying to sort it out since have been defeated.

Nikola, who will get a 1,000 prize, works at the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Zagreb. 

He said: "I finished Gymnasium in Cakovec, small town in the north of Croatia, and studied chemistry in Zagreb.

"Almost immediately after receiving my BSc diploma in 2009 I started working as research assistant in the Laboratory for Physical Chemistry at the University of Zagreb, the same lab I did my diploma. 

"Thereby I started working on my PhD thesis in the field of supramolecular chemistry.

"Getting this job was fantastic for me, since this enabled me to follow my passion for science and also be involved in teaching.

"My friend Ivan-Goran sent me an e-mail with the link about the contest preceding the words 'This might be of interest to you...'. Needless to say, I was immediately intrigued and started to read about Mpemba effect and soon conducted the first experiments.

"I was very lucky to be in a very open and friendly environment and I am thankful to my mentor Professor Tomisic who encouraged me to proceed with the investigations along with my other work, and didn't mind me using any of the equipment in the lab. 

"Of course my other close colleagues and friends participated in numerous discussions on the subject, some even allowing me to expand the instrumentation and helping me designing the experiments in the process, thus bringing me step by step closer to the solution of the problem. 

"It was really interesting to observe how stunned people were when I was telling them about the Mpemba effect, and how easy it was to awake a scientist in most of them when discussing the matter. I must also say that some of them believed in my work much more than I did myself. These were of course my parents and my love Vesna.

"I was stunned by the scope this project of the RSC took and was really glad to find so many people all over the world were interested and participated in it. This really pointed out the power of human curiosity and their urge for understanding the world around them.

"I will spend the prize money wisely. Firstly, this award deserves a celebration with all people that were beside me and after this, I think there will be some left for a trip or two to the mountains or a river in the spring if we find the time."

Related Links

Burlington House

Mpemba Competition Award Ceremony

10 January 2013. Watch the announcement of the winner of the Mpemba Competition

Nikola Bregovic

The winner is .....

Nikola Bregovic, research assistant in the field of physical chemistry at the Department of Chemistry, University of Zagreb, Croatia.

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