Indistinguishable from Magic
June 12, 2013 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Random Weekend Project shows how to seemingly make magic by creating instant ice from flowing water. [slyt]
posted by quin (34 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
the secret = elevator dubstep
posted by nathancaswell at 7:51 AM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Super-cooled water, and super-saturated solutions, are fun.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:51 AM on June 12, 2013


Isn't this phenomenon mentioned by one of the Romantic poets? I never thought it actually was real. Totally cool! Blerg, no pun intended.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:54 AM on June 12, 2013


You aren't fooling me trolling-for-youtube-ad-clicks Bobby Drake.

(Seriously, though, this is awesome.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:55 AM on June 12, 2013


I'm confused by how 2 hours and 45 minutes of wait-time in the freezer is "instant" ?
posted by ish__ at 8:06 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where did they get the Ice-9?
posted by chavenet at 8:13 AM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


It looks like I have a science project for me and my daughter this weekend!
posted by TedW at 8:16 AM on June 12, 2013


I believe if you do this trick with carbonated water, as soon as you open it it'll trigger the reaction. Which is also pretty cool.
posted by themadthinker at 8:18 AM on June 12, 2013


I love that the secret trick to instant ice is to place it in the freezer for 2.5 hours.
posted by jph at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love that the secret trick to instant ice is to place it in the freezer for 2.5 hours.

You're going to be so disappointed when you discover the magicians don't actually saw people in half, either.
posted by yoink at 8:25 AM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Another neat phase transition video is this one with charcoal and liquid oxygen
posted by exogenous at 8:31 AM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just to be pedantic; the secret to instant ice isn't that it's in the freezer for two plus hours, it's that the water purity is high enough that there isn't anything for ice crystals to easily form on. Which is why when it's startled (can water be startled?) it starts to spontaneously crystallize.

The effect is most neat for people who aren't aware that the water in the bottle is sub zero and will be surprised when it behaves in a very un-water-like way all of a sudden.

posted by quin at 8:32 AM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


If you don't want to wait 2.5 hours you can do this trick the opposite way with a microwave and a very clean cup. Nucleation of bubbles in superheated water can be a much nastier surprise, however.
posted by The Bellman at 8:33 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm confused by how 2 hours and 45 minutes of wait-time in the freezer is "instant" ?


It takes two hours and forty-five minutes to make super-cooled water. It only takes a moment to turn super-cooled water into ice.
posted by VTX at 8:39 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was totally going to call this as sodium acetate. It looks JUST like that.

Funny thing is, sodium acetate's "instant freezing" is exactly the same physical reaction; it just takes place with a room temperature supercooled solution rather than a sub-0C one.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:50 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


That youtube guy has some cool stuff there. I liked how he made electricity from pennies and vinegar.
posted by DaddyNewt at 8:53 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Similar to the "self-freezing" coca cola in Asia for a while, not sure if it's still a thing.
posted by proneSMK at 8:57 AM on June 12, 2013


"If you don't want to wait 2.5 hours you can do this trick the opposite way with a microwave and a very clean cup. Nucleation of bubbles in superheated water can be a much nastier surprise, however."

Yeah, I was going to mention that. It's pretty easy to superheat water in a microwave. But you have to be careful.

The safer thing to do is to superheat it (clean cup, as you wrote, then bring the water close to boiling and then intermittently microwave to more slowly take it past the boiling point) and then gently remove it from the microwave, set it on a counter and dip a spoon or something similar into it. It will being to rapidly boil. If you've managed to go past the boiling point by quite a bit, it may boil so rapidly that it could splash and scald you, so care should still be taken.

A much more dramatic and dangerous version is to do the superheating as above, wear eye and skin protection, be prepared to clean up a mess, and instead of a spoon or other object, drop flour into the water. Or sand. It will basically explode into vapor — I've had whole cups or half glasses of water become almost empty instantaneously this way. It's dramatic. But there's a film of flour-water stuff everywhere.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:02 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you don't want to wait 2.5 hours you can do this trick the opposite way with a microwave and a very clean cup. Nucleation of bubbles in superheated water can be a much nastier surprise, however.

I want to emphasize that this can be very dangerous. Superheated water will boil explosively (in the colloquial sense) once it has a defect to cause bubble nucleation, and can easily splash out of the vessel and onto you. The sudden boiling of superheated water can cause extremely bad scald injuries.
posted by samofidelis at 9:03 AM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dangerous seems to be what this guy is into.
posted by flabdablet at 9:17 AM on June 12, 2013


I am going to impress the HELL out of my kid this afternoon.
posted by KathrynT at 9:19 AM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The effect is most neat for people who aren't aware that the water in the bottle is sub zero and will be surprised when it behaves in a very un-water-like way all of a sudden.

True! I discovered this phenomenon by accident when I stuck a bottle of purified water in a hotel mini-fridge overnight. Apparently, the temperature was extra low in there, or perhaps the bottle was too close to the coil. Regardless of how, I was definitely surprised when it happened, as I watched the water turn to slush in the bottle.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 9:31 AM on June 12, 2013


How the heck was this not a mr. wizard segment first?

I remember trying to do the hot water instant boiling trick in front of a friend many years ago, complete dud. Must not have microwaved it for the right time. Maybe this will work better.
posted by skewed at 9:33 AM on June 12, 2013


My siblings and I discovered this by accident when opening one of the carbonated water bottles my mom left outside during winter. Bottle felt very pressurized, water was still liquid. It froze with delightful speed. So of course we proceeded to open one bottle after another. It was fantastic. My mom noticed her rapidly dwindling supply of soda water, and suggested we pace ourselves a bit more slowly.

To which we replied, 'but mom, SCIENCE!"

Those were the days.
posted by lucidprose at 9:33 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe if you do this trick with carbonated water, as soon as you open it it'll trigger the reaction.

It works well with beer as well, especially when you try to cool a room-temp one by putting in the freezer, then forgetting about it for an hour or two.
posted by TedW at 10:24 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In college I had a mini fridge that was a little too cold. Any pop kept in there either had to be allowed to warm up a little, or consumed quickly before it froze into slush that was impossible to get out of its container. On the plus side it would chill milk until tiny little ice crystals would form which would be delicious on cereal.
posted by borkencode at 10:46 AM on June 12, 2013


Funny thing is, sodium acetate's "instant freezing " is exactly the same physical reaction

Even funnier is sodium acetate's "instant freezing" is actually exothermic.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:51 AM on June 12, 2013


Water freezing is exothermic too.

In fact, the amount of heat released for sodium acetate 'freezing' and water freezing, per kilogram, is pretty much the same (~280 kj/kg, unless I miscalculated), and given the amount of water the supersaturated solution of sodium acetate contains, and the fact that all that water ends up as water of crystallization, I'm wondering whether the sources of that heat aren't substantially identical in a deep sense (i.e., they both come from incorporating liquid water into a lattice).
posted by jamjam at 12:51 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It works well with beer as well, especially when you try to cool a room-temp one by putting in the freezer, then forgetting about it for an hour or two.

This effect was the reason Mike's Hard Lemonade was invented (truthfully, the only way that it can be "enjoyed").
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:56 PM on June 12, 2013


1. 45 seconds of the two-and-a-half minute video are logos, previews and introduction. GET ON WITH IT!
2. This is the guy who did the "starting fires with your pee" thing that got linked to earlier, and which I found a kind of masterpiece of obnoxious presentation.

Still though, this is cool, and a lot more interesting than that previous one. This phenomenon happens with extremely pure boiling water too, and is a reason you're not supposed to directly microwave water; the water can actually get heated to above the boiling point, and start boiling all at once when the liquid is disturbed, say, by reaching in and touching the container.
posted by JHarris at 2:26 PM on June 12, 2013


Another neat phase transition video is this one with charcoal and liquid oxygen

That's not a phase transition; it's a chemical reaction. C + O2 -> CO2.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:23 PM on June 12, 2013


The oxygen is vaporizing which is why the charcoal dances around.
posted by exogenous at 3:52 PM on June 12, 2013


I gottcher phase change right here buddy.
posted by humboldt32 at 6:02 PM on June 12, 2013


I had stored a water bottle in the freezer for a bit, and took it out before it froze completely. Taking a big swig, I realized that it was sort of slushy, and wanting to avoid an ice cream headache (it gets gross here), I spit part of the sip back in the bottle. Whoooommp! The bottle instantly froze solid. Whoa! Accidental magic trick! I'm quite impressive. But don't drink after me.
posted by thebrokedown at 1:48 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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