Photo credit: The Meta

Here’s one naturally occurring science phenomena you probably didn’t know about: frost flowers. Technically speaking, the formation of frost flowers is dependent on a freezing weather condition occurring when the ground is not already frozen. The sap in the stem of the plants will expand (water expands when frozen), causing long, thin cracks to form along the length of the stem. Water is then drawn through these cracks via capillary action and freezes upon contact with the air. As more water is drawn through the cracks it pushes the thin ice layers further from the stem, causing a thin “petal” to form. In the case of woody plants and (living or dead) tree branches the freezing water is squeezed through the pores of the plant forming long thin strings of ice that look uncannily like hair i.e. “hair ice” or “frost beard”. Continue reading for more.

5. Red Hot Ice Cube

Induction heating is basically the process of taking a high-frequency current and shooting it through a coil to create an electromagnet, which then pumps the resulting magnetized currents through a conducting material. When this magnetized current hits resistance within the material, we get the Joule effect – electrically-induced heat. This demonstration shows the conductor as a sliver of metal inside a block of ice, with the heat building up so fast that the setup catches fire before the ice has a chance to melt, creating the Red Hot Ice Cube effect.

4. Paramagnetism of Oxygen

Oxygen has a boiling point of -183 °C (-297.3 °F), and everything above that temperature is the gas we all know of and breathe. However, once it drops below that temperature, it behaves just like a piece of iron near a magnet – a fiercely boiling, liquid piece of iron. Using two oppositely oriented magnets, the liquid oxygen will form a bridge in the middle, which is what you’re seeing in the video. Unfortunately, it’s hard to watch it happen for long because liquid oxygen starts boiling back into a gas as soon as it enters room temperature.

3. Briggs-Rauscher

The Briggs-Rauscher reaction is one of the most visually stunning to date. This chemical oscillator – a reaction that gradually changes in color from clear to amber, then suddenly flashes to a dark blue, then back to clear, all in one oscillation – keeps occurring for several minutes; up to 30 different reactions can happen simultaneously at any given time during each oscillation.

2. Pharaoh Snake

In science, mercury(II) thiocyanate is used sparingly for handful of chemical syntheses. For pure demonstration purposes, it appears to be magic. When this element decomposes, it forms carbon nitride and mercury vapor, a highly toxic mixture. Believe it or not, it was sold as fireworks until several children died from eating it in the 1800s. When heated, mercury(II) begins decomposing in spectacular fashion.

1. Sound and Water

Sound waves can be quite puzzling because of their ability to make other objects match their frequency, and this video shows a perfect example. Simply put, a 24 Hz sine wave travels through a speaker under a water hose, which starts vibrating 24 times per second. When the water comes out, it forms waves that match the 24 Hz frequency. By filming the falling water at 24fps, the it makes the water stream appear to freeze in midair. Each wave of water hits the exact same space, 24 times every second.

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