You're Drawing Icebergs All Wrong

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Photo: Johan Ordonez (Getty Images)

Megan Thompson-Munson, a geologist and climate scientist, has seen your drawings of icebergs and had enough. It’s time for a scientific reckoning.

Thompson-Munson is currently studying for a Ph.D. at the University of Colorado Boulder and recently took time away from studying to make clear up the iceberg confusion. In a Twitter thread, the young scientist explained what should be obvious: An iceberg with a little pointy peak on top that descends in an ice cream cone shape would float on its side. That is to say that an iceberg shaped like this would look more like this when it’s floating.


The thread went low-key viral and Thompson-Munson has since floated the idea of a #TipTheIceberg sticker campaign to raise awareness of proper iceberg rendering guidelines. And in the midst of this passionate call for people to wake the hell up, software developer Joshua Tauberer built a little interactive program for you to try out your own drawings of icebergs and see how it’d actually float in the physics of the real world. Observe:


The iceberg’s use as a metaphor has so thoroughly pervaded our conception of how to represent the object itself that we imagine a phenomenon that doesn’t really exist. “While it’s true that only ~10% floats above the surface of the water, the ‘classic’ orientation is unstable and would actually not be found in nature,” Thompson-Munson wrote. “An elongated iceberg would not float on its head, but instead on its side.”

Is this topic worth getting angry about? Not at all, but we support people turning their pet peeves into a movement. And Tauberer’s little webtoy is extremely satisfying to play with. Share your penis-shaped iceberg drawings in the comments below.