When hydrogen peroxide is combined with soap and a catalyst is added, the hydrogen peroxide decomposes producing heat and releasing oxygen which, due to the soap, generates a large amount of foam (called “elephant toothpaste” by some people). While the generation of a modest amount of elephant toothpaste is often a crowd pleaser at science shows and has even been featured in sitcoms and movies, there are a few rival groups of nerds that are engaged in a cutthroat competition to produce the largest amount of elephant toothpaste ever. The video below chronicles some of the history and the last epic attempt by Nick Uhas and his gang. The end result reminds me a bit of the classic monster movie, The Blob. except that fragments of the stuff even went airborne!
When people think of chemical reactions used for show, they normally think of those that produce explosions or fire, or solutions and gases of pretty colors. However, the chemical reactions shown in the videos below produce structures that emerge from the reaction like tentacles of a being from another dimension or alien edifices.
NileRed made a YouTube video that went viral in 2017, and which I have mentioned before in my blog. This is a video of the amalgamation reaction between mercury and aluminum. The reaction takes place slowly, so it was sped up for the video. If you want to skip ahead to the emergence of the first structure, it takes place around minute two.
In the next video, also by NileRed, the reaction is more impressive as it takes place in real time. This is the so called Pharaoh’s Serpent, which used to be sold as a firework in Germany until it was banned due to the highly toxic compounds that it generates. Below is the short version of the video. If you want the long version with all the explanations of the complex chemistry that is going on, you can find it here.
The last video is by the folks of Home Science where baking soda heated with sugar produces an entity called “The Black Fire Snake”. Unlike the two videos above, this one has the advantage that this is something that you can try at home because it doesn’t involve or generate toxic compounds (as always be mindful of safety when using fire).
This post has nothing to do with breathing the same air as Kings, Queens, or other aristocrats. It is actually about breathing the so called Noble gases, Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, and Xenon. This crazy experiment performed in the video below by Cody from Cody’s Lab is not without risk (even though these gases are elements that are quite unreactive), so don’t try it at home! If you want to skip ahead to the time in the video where he starts breathing the gases, it occurs at minute 4:16.
As you saw in the video, his voice went from a seemingly very high pitch after breathing the lightest gas, Helium, to a seemingly very low pitch after breathing the heaviest gas, Xenon. This is because Helium is lighter than air and the sound waves produced by the vocal chords propagate faster through it. This has the effect of amplifying the high-pitch components of the voice. With Xenon, sound waves travel slower, and this has the opposite effect. However, what is really affected by the gases is not so much the pitch of the sound but its overall quality or timbre.
Many matches contain a form of iron oxide that is not attracted to magnets, but as a result of the burning reaction taking place in the head of the match, the iron oxide is converted to metallic iron which is attracted to magnets. This is a cool demonstration that the chemical form of an element can dramatically change its properties.