A team of Japanese research scientists returning...

A team of Japanese research scientists returning from Antarctica discovered a certain ice from the area containing millions of tiny air bubbles that is said to "literally burst when immersed in alcohol."

Since the ice is too costly to import, Tokyo-based steelmaker Nippon Kokan, a sponsor of the scientific expedition, put its research labs to work at developing a similar ice with pure air and water. The result is Exice, which NKK is testing in Japan while it builds a manufacturing plant scheduled for completion next spring.

Alcohol content of a drink determines the volume and frequency of the ice bursts. "A 65-decibel pop occurs about every two seconds in a whiskey and water highball," a company spokesman said. "But you can expects pops of up to 70 decibels a second in a straight whiskey."

Plans call for the ice to be marketed primarily to hotels and restaurants in Japan at $7 a ton.

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