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MIT student blogger Gabe B. '13

Sigma ChIgloo by Gabe B. '13

MIT Fraternity brothers engineer a 10 foot igloo while relaxing in Maine

Brothers of MIT Sigma Chi retreat to Maine from Thursday -> Sunday. Here’s (most of) what happened

As I was assembling this blog post, my roommate Mike ’13 and I did a quick calculation. Approximating the igloo we built as a half sphere with an inner radius of 7 feet and an outer radius of 8 feet, we found that almost 13 cubic meters of snow were used in the construction.





If the density of snow is about 1/5th that of water (which we conjectured based solely on a quick internet query and are not 100% sure about), then the igloo weighs about 2,500 kilograms, or well over 5,000 pounds. Now who said MIT kids never hit the gym?





Please comment below if you think we’re dead wrong on the calculation, or if you have any ideas for how to approximate better. Now that the math is out of the way, let’s move on to the pictures…

John ’11 gets serious with the snow

Scott ’12 jumps on what he thought was a grenade

but quickly realizes it’s just snow!

Steve ’12 and Peter ’13 struggle to play tetherball in two feet of fresh powder

Peter ’13 smiles as he (as it appears) pulls every muscle in his back          (He’s fine, actually)

Jordan ’12 tries to become one with the igloo

Steve ’12 tries in his own way…

…and is successful. Steve is stoked for his pending relationship

Brothers greet the late-comers with a barrage of snowballs. Many athletes arrived late due to practice schedules

Chris ’15 attempts to bring a block of igloo back home to Boston but becomes decidedly less stoked when his pow pow only lasts for a couple hours…

Brothers begin to congregate inside as the structure nears completion

Colin ’15 realizes he’s not in Hawaii anymore

Austin ’15 jumps off the balcony. The 2nd floor balcony. TFM

Frozen and feeble after a long day of labor, John ’11 emerges from his icy creation

George ’15 makes it rain on Austin ’15 and Jordan ’12 as the two attempt to put the finishing touches on the igloo

Here’s our creation.

To be honest, not much studying took place last weekend. But sometimes that’s just what we need as we challenge ourselves through college. A weekend with just the boys, away from the noises, lights and concrete of Boston. We shared a renewed sense of brotherhood and friendship while forging great memories that will endure far beyond the knowledge obtained in much of our curriculum.

Comment away!


23 responses to “Sigma ChIgloo”

  1. Mike H. says:

    Kudos to Gabe for whipping off a quick calculation that is still leaving me scratching my head. And word on the street has it that the author recently won a league Hockey championship too! Congrats. Seems like a well-rounded group of guys and an awesome weekend up in Maine.

    Keep up the great posts Gabe. Sounds like you’re shining brightly these days at the Institute!

  2. nameless says:

    I think you converted from feet to meter incorrectly.

  3. Marilyn Decker says:

    I love it! The igloo smile No idea about the calculation though ! Great photo’s and I bet your parents are proud! …now about that jump off the balcony, I mean, really? You are lucky you did not break something Austin!

  4. Cambo Slice says:

    Yo Gabe! Where did you guys go specifically?

  5. Mohammed Amr says:

    Revising the calculation, the conversion from feet to meters is of, isnt it? I found that the volume of snow used is 10.1 cubic meters. In which case it would be 2020 Kg of snow. Inner radius = 2.1336 meters and outer radius = 2.44 meters.

  6. Gabe B. '13 says:

    @nameless- Please explain.

    @Marilyn- That might have been an exaggeration!

    @Cambo Slice- Not sure actually, but that’s the magic of it. I wasn’t the driver or the navigator and I never left the property smile

    @Mohammed- We did engineering approximations. Assuming a meter is 3 feet, 7 feet is 2.33 meters and 8 feet is 2.66 meters. What’s off? What do you suggest? I think your calculations might be a little off.

  7. Marilyn says:

    Good I had to make sure wink I know boys will be boys even at MIT!

  8. Harleen Dhillon says:

    Mohammed is right. The conversion to feet is incorrect.

  9. Gabe B. '13 says:

    @Harleen and @Mohammed – please let me know how it is incorrect. What should I change?

  10. Mohammed Amr says:

    @Gabe- first off no hate involved. Anyways, I didnt realize you were approximating. Using the rounded off measurements, the volume of snow calculated would be greater than the volume of the actual snow. The idea is that the difference between the approximate radii and the actual radii is negligible, 2.4384-2.1336=0.3048 vs 2.66-2.33=0.33, but when the radii are cubed the differences become amplified – (2.4384^3) – (2.1336^3)~4.79 vs (2.66^3)-(2.33^3)~6.17. There is a significant difference between the two values. That difference carries on in the calculation, so the actual volume would be 10.03 meters cubed vs 12.92 meters cubed. The mass calculated using the approximate value would be around 2584 Kg. The mass of the “actual” snow would be 2006 Kg. I might be missing something out here and making myself look completely dumb. Not that this makes a whole lot of a difference anyways, the door itself isnt taken into account and this a fun little guestimate. I was just thinking out loud is all.

  11. Omar Ismail says:

    I totally disagree with you Mohammed Amr. I mean, how hard can it be?

  12. Jeremy Hammond says:

    Mr. Omar Ismail, I have to say I disagree with you and totally agree with Mr Mohammed Amr. His calculations are very accurate and his thinking skills are very high. Doesn’t say much for you though?

    @Mohammed Amr. Don’t let people like this hinder u. Just remember Haters gonna hate

  13. nameless says:

    Gabe, since I totally agree with Mohammed’s explanation of why the conversion is wrong, I’ll spare you the redundancy.

  14. Gabe B. '13 says:

    Mohammed- thanks for the pointers. You’re right- Mike and I overestimated the weight of the igloo. Also a good point that we didn’t take into account the missing door section.

  15. S Khan says:

    @ Omar Ismail. I’ve read Mohammed’s explanation and really do believe that he is right in this case. I see no reason for you to be disagreeing with him. Pardon my lack of formality, but “jealous much?”.

    @Mohammed. Jeremy’s right, haters are always gonna hate. Stick to your thinking, its clearly gotten you far.

  16. Mohammed Amr says:

    The funny thing is, if I suggested to do something like that with my friends and then stuck a formula like that in. They would kill me and throw me of the side of the road. I do take revenge in class however when I over complicate a concept for them. Great, know I would really feel bad if I get rejected. Anyways, looks like you had fun!!!!

  17. Tom says:

    Hatter gonna hate… potato is going to potate.

    Just couldn’t resist smile Great post Gabe, thanks.

  18. Momo says:

    I would suggest to estimate the volume of snow used in feet. Having the volume in cubic feet, you can then convert that result to cubic meters for a minimal error margin. What do you guys think ?

  19. Benjamin says:

    Another thing to think about is that your snow is densely packed- I’d think the 1/5 of water estimation is for “average” snowfall, in which case I could see it being significantly more. Though I have no way of figuring out a way to estimate that without experimentation… As far as the door goes, the snow that makes up that little “entryway” seems to make up for it well enough.

    I wish I could’ve been there- playing in snow is the best! I’ve lived my whole life in western NY, and we get pounded every year (but this year)/

  20. Nora says:

    I absolutely love this, being a Mainer. Also, jumping off second floors of houses into snow is practically a Maine tradition. wink I loved this post, and kudos to you for the calculation and the igloo!

  21. Marilyn Decker says:

    A picture is worth a thousand words, and some of these are priceless. The athletes know how to have fun without breaking a leg!

  22. AMWJ '17 says:

    Stupid question: Couldn’t one find the snow density by taking a sample, measuring it’s volume, and melting it? It wouldn’t be exact, but wouldn’t it be easier and more accurate than getting it online?