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Ice cubes float in water because they’re less dense than the liquid. But a newfound type of ice has a density nearly equal to what’s in your water glass, researchers report in the Feb. 3 Science. If you could plop this ice in your cup without it melting immediately, it would bob around, neither floating nor sinking.

The new ice is a special type called an amorphous ice. That means the water molecules within it aren’t arranged in a neat pattern, as in normal, crystalline ice. Other types of amorphous ice are already known, but they have densities either lower or higher than water’s density under standard conditions. Some scientists hope this newly made amorphous ice could help solve the scientific mysteries that swirl around water.

To generate the new ice, scientists used a surprisingly simple technique. Called ball milling, it involves shaking a container of ice and stainless steel balls, cooled to 77 kelvins (nearly –200° Celsius). The researchers were motivated by curiosity; they didn’t expect the technique to produce a new amorphous ice. “It was a sort of Friday-afternoon idea we had, to just give it a go and see what happens,” says physical chemist Christoph Salzmann of University College London.

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