Saturday, July 16, 2016

Burning Iron in Liquid Oxygen

Liquid oxygen presents us with a conundrum. When you expose a fire to oxygen, it burns brighter. When you expose fire to a liquid, it should put the fire out. And when you introduce something hot into something cold, the temperatures should cancel each other out, depending on how much substance there is of each. So what happens when you expose burning iron wool to liquid oxygen? The reaction is pretty spectacular.

Professor Martyn Poliakoff brings us another episode of The Periodic Table of Videos involving the scientific process. After the initial light show, he and his team tried to design experiments to find out exactly what was happening during the reaction. While they didn’t get the answers they were looking for, they learned quite a bit about the limits of lab equipment and the difficulty of observing unpredicted effects. Luckily, they keep a fire extinguisher handy. However, Poliakoff assures us that you can learn something even in failed experiments. And the footage was so cool that they couldn’t resist sharing it with us. (via Laughing Squid)

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