Most fire is orange, or maybe shades of yellow, white or blue. But it turns out if you spray sodium salts and ethanol into a flame and then view it in front of a sodium vapor lamp, it looks black. Natasha Simons of The Royal Institution explains the science behind this phenomenon.
THE BEST Experiments
Licorice candies like Twizzlers and Red Vines look like rope, but is it possible to actually use them to pull things? Louis Weisz and his friend Jeffrey Ziskind conducted a series of experiments to see if they could weave together a bunch of the candy into a rope that could bear weight and even tow a car.
Real laser beams don’t behave like they do in science fiction. Instead of firing in short blasts, they appear as a single coherent beam of light. The Action Lab shows a simple way to achieve the sci-fi effect in camera using a spinning fan blade and by taking advantage of a digital camera’s rolling shutter effect.
Warped Perception enjoys seeing how things look in slow-motion. He recently got the idea to launch a model rocket from inside of an aquarium, letting us see how it behaves both in and out of the water. We love the way its exhaust plume changes as it breaks the surface of the water.
Jens of macro photography channel Another Perspective shares time-lapse footage of a soap bubble he says lasted 10 hours, then explains how he did it. The trick to keeping it alive so long involves the proper mix of water, soap, and glycerine, along with a little heat to keep it moving.
BeamNG.drive is known for its ability to simulate vehicle dynamics and crashes with impressive accuracy. In addition to weather conditions, it can also replicate gravitational forces. In this clip from The Action Lab, he shows off what might happen if you tried to drive a pickup truck on the Moon, Jupiter, and even the Sun.
Lauri and Anni of Hydraulic Press Channel fame dropped by the X-ray laboratory at the University of Helsinki to see what objects look like when crushed in front of an X-ray camera. With the help of scientist Samuli Siltanen, they were able to capture some very unique images. We’d love to see some more complicated objects.
You’d think it would be pretty difficult to get a 110-pound iron anvil to float on top of a liquid, but it’s definitely possible with the right substance. In this clip from Cody’s Lab, he shows how a tub filled with shiny liquid mercury does the trick. The much higher density of the mercury is why this experiment works.
There’s a lot of stuff that happens to Marty and Doc in Back to the Future, from being blown away by a giant amplifier, to acting as a conductor for a lightning bolt. Jake Roper of Vsauce3 decided to find out if it would be remotely possible to live through all that in this episode of Could You Survive the Movies?
If you thought the only way to bend a beam of light was with mirrors, you’d be wrong. MEL Chemistry shows off a few simple experiments you can do with a laser pointer and household items like oil, water, and salt, that demonstrate the nature of reflection and refraction. More here.
The Hydraulic Press Channel previously tested the strength of LEGO bricks. Now they’re here to do the same, but with the actual construction material used to hold up real world structures. Both red solid clay bricks and concrete blocks are able to withstand an extreme amount of pressure before failing spectacularly.
The Slow Mo Guys performed a dangerous experiment, in which they tossed a flaming bucket of gasoline onto a sheet of glass to see how it spread. The resulting 4K visuals are spectacular, but under no circumstances should you try to replicate this at home.
Aerogel has some amazing properties. It’s insanely lightweight, and is an incredible insulator. Recently, Derek Muller of Veritasium put this to the test, by standing behind a blanket infused with silica aerogel being hit by a Boring Company Not a Flamethrower. Now we’d like to see the same test with a serious flamethrower.
Macrophotography experts Beauty of Science captured incredible close-up footage of the interactions between water, ice, vinegar, and other substances to demonstrate endothermic processes in front of a high-resolution thermal camera. If you haven’t seen Getting Hot, it’s worth a watch too.
“It’s like a cross between silver and milk.” Gallium is a pretty amazing element, a shiny metal that melts above 85.57ºF. The Slow Mo Guys decided to play with some of the stuff in front of their high-speed camera, capturing some amazing footage of the metal’s properties when in motion.
Magnet enthusiast Magnetic Games decided to see what would happen when he introduced a bunch of his small, Buckyballs-style spheres to some of his incredibly powerful neodymium monolith magnets. The impacts are quite spectacular, and especially neat to watch in slow motion.
That expanding spray foam insulation can be really useful for filling gaps and cracks, but it’s also really nasty stuff. The King of Random decided to see if they could use a bunch of cans of Great Stuff to make usable (and really ugly) furniture. Somebody should try and build a house out of this goo.
The guys at MEL Science show off a visually impressive, but simple to execute experiment about fluid density and immiscibility. You too can make it rain colorful droplets inside of a glass with some water, vegetable oil, and food coloring. Detailed instructions here.
The idea of filling a swimming pool with gelatin seems simple enough, but as engineer Mark Rober explains, it’s way more complicated than you might think. Leave it to a rocket scientist to figure out how to boil and then refrigerate an entire pool filled with 15 tons of Jello.
One of the more entertaining science experiments involves slapping neodymium magnets on a AA battery, and placing it into an length of copper wire. Mr. Michal plays with the idea, using a loop of wire to see how long batteries last, then drag races them to see which is most energetic.
Steel wool is really useful for scrubbing and cleaning. But it’s also incredibly flammable. The guys from The King of Random decided to play with fire, and see how it might react if a lit piece of the shredded metal was dropped into a cup of styrofoam filled with liquid oxygen.
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