Five Mundane Things That Can Be Turned Into Diamonds

By Anupum Pant

Background

Diamonds are natural things…or are they?
All of those who have bought a wedding ring, have most probably been informed at the shop that diamonds can be made in the laboratory. And these diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from the real (mined) ones. Today they go by the name, laboratory-created, lab-grown, synthetic diamonds or man-made diamonds and are available at almost all jewelers. They have the same physical and chemical make up as that of the mined diamonds. The primary difference between the real deal and the lab diamond is their price. The lab-grown ones are usually easier on your wallet.

Normally, synthetic diamonds can be made using 2 different processes – high temperature and high pressure method and Vapor deposition method. The former is used to convert most mundane things into diamonds. But the later is used too…

Note: If this post reminds you of the classic track, Diamonds made from rain by Eric Clapton, then for a minute, you might want to stop playing it in the back of your head. And for the record, no, diamonds cannot be made from rain.
Fun fact: However, scientists say it does rain diamonds right here, in our own solar system, in the planets Jupiter and Saturn. But that is for some other day.

For now, I have collected a small and interesting list for you below. Four out of 5 are made using a similar process (number one from the two mentioned above). The list has been made to realize how there are diamonds hidden and lying around you. Let’s see what are those mundane things that can be turned into diamonds, right here on earth, in laboratories. Continue reading Five Mundane Things That Can Be Turned Into Diamonds

5 Visually Incredible Science Experiments You Cannot Miss

By Anupum Pant

Here is a small list of visually incredible science experiments that will keep you visually mesmerized for a couple of minutes. Later, you’ll be left wondering about what you just saw.

The list is a small one, to not overwhelm those avid readers who follow the articles everyday. I think, more than 5 videos, is just too much wonder to take for a single day.
I do have a collection of hundreds of other such incredible experiment videos (in my bookmarks) that I’ll be sharing in the future…probably with the same heading suffixed with “part 2”.

Now without any more delay, here is the list. Have fun and do share if you like them! Ask me in the comments section if you have any questions.

1. Decomposition of Mercury (II) Thiocyanate

2. Liquid Nitrogen + 1500 Ping Pong balls

3. Dry Ice + Water

4. Quantum Trapping / Quantum Locking

5. Flying top

Harmless Flour is an Incredibly Explosive Substance

By Anupum Pant

Background

The next time you are biting off from a bread, pizza, pancake or a doughnut, you should probably take a minute and pay a silent acknowledgement to the people who work in flour mills to bring flour to your homes. Yes, because flour, the seemingly harmless cooking ingredient can be an incredibly dangerous substance – It explodes.

Wait a minute. It isn’t a minor explosion I’m talking about. I’m talking about really big explosions. Read on to know more.

Burning Flour

Flour is almost completely starch (or carbohydrate). Since Carbohydrate is nothing but a large molecule which is essentially a couple of sugar molecules linked to each other, it burns like sugar. And everybody who has tried burning marshmallows on a candle knows how easily sugar catches fire. Agreed, carbohydrate isn’t as sweet, but it is just like its cousin sugar when it comes to flammability.

So, that is how flour can catch fire. But what is it that makes it bring down full-sized buildings?

Flour in air

Flour in your kitchen’s flour container can be a very boring thing. The fun starts when the tiny flour particles are suspended in air.

Flour particles suspended in air, or for that matter, almost anything suspended in air that can catch fire, is a dangerous thing. For example, look at one of the most hazardous situation you can have in a coal mine – There is coal dust around and accidentally there is a small sparkle around it. The whole place explodes like a bomb. This has resulted in some of the worst ever mining accidents in the history.

Such explosions happen because anything that is in powdered form and is suspended in air, has a far more surface area exposed to oxygen per unit weight, than normal lumps of the same substance. This is true for industrial stuff like powdered coal, sawdust, and magnesium. Besides that, mundane substances can explode too – like  grain, flour, sugar, powdered milk and pollen.

All it takes to cause a disaster is a suspended combustible powder and a little electric arc formed from electrostatic discharge, friction or even hot surfaces – A little spark is enough.

Such settings are common in flour mills, where there is flour floating around literally everywhere. This is what caused a giant explosion in a flour mill in Minnesota on May 2nd, 1878, killing 18 workers. But that was more than 100 years ago. Kitchens are relatively safe because you don’t have enough flour in the air to catch fire and produce great volumes of air that are enough to cause an explosion.

This happens even today. From the year 1994 to the year 2003 there have been 115 such reported explosions in food processing industries in the US.

[Source 1] [Source 2] [Source 3]

Experiment

The following is a simple experiment you can do at home (obviously with adult supervision) to understand the explosive nature of a harmless cooking ingredient. [Video]

What you need: Safety glasses, Tin can (with lid), Candle, Matches, a long Straw and fine white flour

  • Take a tin can, one with a relatively tighter lid. Make a hole at the lowest point in the side wall (just enough to fit in a straw).
  • Open it up and put in a handful of flour inside it. Now is the time to put on your safety glasses.
  • Now, burn a candle and carefully place it inside the can.
  • Close the lid, insert the straw into the hole. Now blow at the base of the can, in a way that flour stirs up inside without extinguishing the candle.
  • Watch the lid pop up 10 feet into the air.