Liquid Nitrogen Experiments

By Anupum Pant

Short of time and keeping up with a busy schedule, I looked around for something interesting to learn today and I found this cool video of very interesting experiments that were done with liquid Nitrogen on ScienceDump. There are 11 such experiments that are shown in the video…

The first one is a Liquid Nitrogen explosion, something like this professor did some time back. To demonstrate his students how Liquid Nitrogen expanded, he blew up a container of Liquid nitrogen to toss 1,500 ping-pong balls. [Video]

Is an Aeolipile, or a rocket styled jet engine made using liquid nitrogen A.K.A Hero engine. Liquid nitrogen heats up inside a container, expands and comes out of tiny orifices to create a jet that makes the container spin. A simpler version of it can be done using a ping pong ball (again). [Video]

The third one simply is a demonstration of what happens when you eat a biscuit dipped in Liquid Nitrogen.

Fourth one again is something you’ll have to see to get really impressed by what some solids at very low temperatures can do. A nice demonstration of something similar is done on this video. [Video]

Fifth one! Oh, the Leidenfrost effect. We’ve talked enough about it already. [Here]

Others are all pretty interesting too. The eight one probably takes the cake – brings back a dead creature to life, or does it…. But I won’t spoil them for you. Watch the video now…

The Evil Powdered Alcohol or Palcohol

By Anupum Pant

As if liquid alcohol wasn’t itself causing enough menace, now we have this futuristic powdered alcohol. They call it “Palcohol”.

All you need is, to mix a little of it with water, and there, you have your doze for the day. Other way to consume it would be to snort it for an “instantaneous high”, which by the way, is nothing less than deadly.

On an unrelated note, I find the host of this show is so adorable.

Problems

  • Palcohol certainly makes it easy for kids (and others) to carry alcohol around, and also to move it into places where it isn’t allowed (football games and concerts), which is definitely not desirable.
  • Also, the powder is highly flammable. Who wants a bomb in their pocket?
  • Another really bad thing about it is that it can easily kill you. Snorting can damage your mucous membrane. Also, since it is alcohol in high concentration, you can easily overdose on powdered alcohol and pass out.
  • The nightmare of every person, date rape, well, that just got a lot easier. Scary! How easy would it be for a creep to slip this powder into a drink of an unsuspecting victim – This is also Lacy’s primary concern (watch the video below).
  • So many new laws need to be in place before it gets available for public.

The patent to create powdered alcohol was published long back, in the 70s, but it is only now that they have got a federal approval. However, the Fed’s approval was taken back due to some issues. It is interesting to note that several other countries like Japan, Netherlands and Germany already have such products that are being sold in the market. How do the authorities in those countries  deal with this menace!

Nevertheless, Palcohol, a new and improved way to get drunk is here. It’s not going back.

Good news (?) is that it can be made at home. Read this PopSci article for the recipe.

I see only problems with Palcohol. I don’t think it needs to be in the retail market. What do you say?

Is Helium Beer Possible?

By Anupum Pant

Background

For the fizz, almost all beers have carbon dioxide dissolved in them. However, some others have also experimented with Nitrogen beers. But as fas as I know, no other gases have been used to make beers. Tell me in the comments section if you know any other gasses that have been used to do this.

But, on April 1st  Samuel Adams announced a Helium beer on his YouTube Channel. Note, the date was 1st  April. Here is the video of the announcement.

Save Helium and Science of the Fake Beer

Of course it was an April fools stunt. But what if it was real?

In his “HeliYum beer” Adam announced that, instead of carbon dioxide to create the fizz, he had used the Helium gas in the beer. In the video, as an additional effect, the new beer gas also created a funny atmosphere by affecting the voice of beer tasters. Now, I certainly didn’t like the idea of using Helium to keg beers because I’m very touchy when it comes to wasting the precious gas – Helium. Why? Well, read this Helium article I wrote some time back.

Also, I was adamant in believing if it was even possible to do that. Firstly, the date was 1st  April. Secondly, the science clearly didn’t allow this. Here’s why…

1. Helium is about 700 times less soluble in water as compared to carbon dioxide. It is one of the least soluble gases in water and only about 0.0016 g of Helium would get dissolved in a litre of beer. While, at the same conditions, 2.5 g of carbon dioxide is usually present in a litre of beer. This dissolved carbon dioxide is what realeases slowly and creates the fizz. No slow fizz can be done with Helium. Undissolved helium in beer would coalesce into one or two big bubble and…ploop, would go out as soon as the seal would break.

2. Even if Helium was forced into the beer and sealed in a beer can, it would be useless. As soon as the seal would break, all the meaningful amount of helium present inside, undissolved, under pressure, would come out so quickly (due to less viscous beer) that it would bring out a lot of beer with it. It would create a mess. And you wouldn’t be able to even bring the can near your face by the time the whole gas goes away.

Had carbon dioxide been used for the same purpose, the gas would, like it normally does, come out steadily. It would make the bubbles last.

Verdict: No. It’s useless to try to make beer with Helium unless you make it so viscous that it won’t let the Helium pass so easily. In that case, it won’t be beer really. Also, I’m not sure if the fermentation process could take place in such a viscous condition.

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