Chemical Reactions
January 27, 2019 4:08 PM   Subscribe

Mixing mercury and aluminum is crazy! I knew mercury would destroy aluminum (I think it was used to sabotage aircraft during WWII?) but I didn't realize it would do that.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:20 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I gasped out loud during the acid/spoon video when...well, I won’t spoil it.
posted by vitout at 4:31 PM on January 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

I always like seeing other people do things I'm too afraid to do!

Here's a better caption for the spoon video on Reddit.

Spoiler: it's a gallium-aluminum spoon, and that's not acid.
posted by invokeuse at 5:10 PM on January 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

I think everyone is familiar with "elephant toothpaste" from every time we run out of dishwasher detergent pucks and decide to substitute liquid soap. And then we forget and do it again a couple of years later. And then again.

No? Not everyone? Just me, then?
posted by rokusan at 5:17 PM on January 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

nah, rokusan, it's more like dish soap in a fountain or the time some drunken eejit dumped half a bottle of the stuff in the toilet tank. But none compare to full-fat milk in a Sodastream.
posted by scruss at 5:36 PM on January 27, 2019

The hot water/liquid nitrogen one seemed ... not wise.
posted by skyscraper at 5:56 PM on January 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

But fun!
posted by skyscraper at 5:56 PM on January 27, 2019

Yeah I'm glad it looked like nobody got hurt. Had they not tested that one before, or what?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:01 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

As a Safety manager, all of them give me small amounts of anxiety, but that acid/spoon one gave me the heebie-jeebies *shudder* (...even if it is not what it seems...)

HoldMyBeaker is a perfect name. Thank you for posting this!
posted by Fig at 6:21 PM on January 27, 2019

Who said salt doesn't grow on trees?

I recall doing this for a badge in Cubs, but using chunks of sponge as the topiary superstructure for the crystals to grow on. IIRC, it was a pain in the ass to transport it - intact - to be evaluated.

Also, it had a very strong ammonia smell for obvious reasons.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:49 PM on January 27, 2019

I’d just like to emphasize that these videos are not the work of @HoldMyBeaker, but of other extraordinary YouTube content providers. The Aluminum-Mercury Amalgam video is by an extraordinary amateur (well, I guess technically he’s a professional now) YouTube chemist, NileRed.

I enjoy watching every new video he puts out. If you found these videos interesting, check out Nile Red’s YT channel.

Frankly, I am a little bit bent out of shape that this Twitter account is basically using other people’s work without attribution. I’m also a little miffed knowing that he is building his followership so much on their work, too. Can you monetize a Twitter account?
posted by darkstar at 7:03 PM on January 27, 2019 [18 favorites]

The hot water/liquid nitrogen one seemed ... not wise.

It was all I dreamed it would be.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:07 PM on January 27, 2019

I prefer the eponymous subreddit
posted by lalochezia at 7:12 PM on January 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

What happens with full-fat milk in a Sodastream? Hijinks ensue, I take it?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:12 PM on January 27, 2019

These are cool but the account seems a little skeevy. The vids are all taken from other places (like YouTube channels), rehosted, uncredited, and interspersed with ads.
posted by edheil at 7:22 PM on January 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

Fig: "HoldMyBeaker is a perfect name."

That's not *quite* the name, though....
posted by Chrysostom at 7:47 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Every time I see someone do the elephant's toothpaste experiment it kind of squicks me out. For starters, it reminds me of the gross sealant compounds used in some low-rent industrial settings. But mostly, all I can think of is this house being destroyed by the stuff.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 7:58 PM on January 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

We did one at SRL where we got a piece of magnesium lit and then hit it with a pressure washer.
It was blinding and buzzed as it burned in time with the pulses of the washer.
posted by boilermonster at 7:59 PM on January 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

A spoon formed out of metallic sodium and stirring coffee would be pretty epic but probably survivable. A brave person might try potassium.
posted by boilermonster at 8:07 PM on January 27, 2019

Every time I see someone do the elephant's toothpaste experiment it kind of squicks me out.

There was a similar effect used in the movie adaptation of The Illustrated Man, in one segment, depicting a man on a strange eternally rainy planet (I think it was supposed to be Venus) being shot, the ground foams up around the corpse as soon as he falls dead, as if the planet wastes no time consuming his body. No explanation of the is given of what is happening, I don't know if the depiction was taken from the story or artistic license on the part of the movie's creators, but the image stayed with me and made an impression.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:47 PM on January 27, 2019

Similar (but less dramatic) is LockPickingLawyer using gallium to weaken an aluminum lock body.
posted by traveler_ at 8:59 PM on January 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

My Irish friend is a high school-level science teacher, and has collected a number of show-offy chemical reactions like this to get kids' attentions when she senses they're spacing out. Things that make loud noises or make stink bombs go over especially well, she says (she once sighed to me that "my life is just bangs and smells").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 PM on January 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Illustrated Man segment is Bradbury's "The Long Rain"; it is supposed to be Venus.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, they could at least link to the original creators of some of these videos. Sadly, ripping off NileRed’s YouTube videos seems pretty par for the course for this Twitter. (Although in this case they appear to have ripped off a UniLad rip of a NileRed video. Twice the shittiness!)
posted by pharm at 3:21 AM on January 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you liked the amalgamation video and you haven't heard about the Pharaoh's Serpent (and it's harmless kid brother the Black Serpent), you might really enjoy those videos too.
posted by talos at 4:47 AM on January 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I assume this person is monetizing their Twitter account via the straight up clickbait links they sprinkle in every 5-10 tweets (eg "10 times actors had real sex on camera," etc). I'd guess it's a pretty efficient scheme: every tweet is a short video that requires a click, reader gets in a rhythm, whoops here's another accidental click to I assume that in addition to swiping unattributed gifs from YouTubers they're also scraping /r/HoldMyBeaker (which I just discovered but apparently links to YouTube sources directly). Some of this stuff is cool and I wish there was a way to get to the actual creators of it but this Twitter account is kind of bad news.
posted by range at 5:33 AM on January 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

This made me hungry for mercury/aluminum tamales.
posted by rokusan at 5:55 AM on January 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

This brings me back. After the AP exam, our chem teacher let us spend most of the rest of the school year practice lab demos so we could present them to the incoming class of freshman to convince them to take higher level science classes. I'm amazed we all survived. Little did he realize we all took AP Chem because we were little pyros and ended up doing things like:

-lighting lab benches on fire with ethanol
-"torturing" gummy bears by dropping them in test tubes of molten potassium nitrate (makes a horrible screaming sound)
-thermite reactions
-making "hot snowballs" of gelled flammable materials, lighting them, and tossing them around the room
-lighting plumes of dust on fire
-making contact explosives

I found out a few years after that we were the last class allowed to do some of those things.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:16 AM on January 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here's a little something for the chemists out there:
Ignition! (PDF)
It's a first person account of the quest for a decent liquid rocket propellant in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Lots of funny stories and wildly frightening lessons learned.
(I used to take advantage of this property when somebody came into my lab looking for a job. At an inconspicuous signal, one of my henchmen would drop the finger of an old rubber glove into a flask containing about 100 cc of mixed acid —and then stand back. The rubber would swell and squirm a moment, and then a magnificent rocket-like jet of flame would rise from the flask, with appropriate hissing noises. I could usually tell from the candidate's demeanor whether he had the sort of nervous system desirable in a propellant chemist.)
Or this :
All this sounds fairly academic and innocuous, but when it is translated into the problem of handling the stuff (CTF), the results are horrendous. It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that's the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water —with which it reacts explosively...
It happened at their Shreveport, Louisiana, installation, while they were preparing to ship out, for the first time, a one-ton steel cylinder of CTF. The cylinder had been cooled with dry ice to make it easier to load the material into it, and the cold had apparently embrittled the steel. For as they were maneuvering the cylinder onto a dolly, it split and dumped one ton of chlorine trifluoride onto the floor. It chewed its way through twelve inches of concrete and dug a three foot hole in the gravel underneath, filled the place with fumes which corroded everything in sight, and, in general, made one hell of a mess. Civil Defense turned out, and started to evacuate the neighborhood, and to put it mildly, there was quite a brouhaha before things quieted down. Miraculously, nobody was killed.
posted by Cris E at 9:56 PM on January 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

Not sure if I should point this out, but the site linked above has a remarkable collection of documents out there. Not remarkable as in awesome, but remarkable as in "Holy crap, look at that!" Remarkable as in a 1939 Italian treatise on The War Gases reviewing lessons learned in WWI. The Scientific Method is a lighter one full of test stories from WWII (testing napalm on the Harvard soccer field or inadvertently burning down their administrative building while testing tiny incendiaries wired to bats to, um, fly into German buildings and burn them down.)
posted by Cris E at 10:20 PM on January 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

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