November 15, 2019, by Dr. Meghan Gray

What happens when you pour boiling water onto liquid nitrogen?

Second year Thermal & Statistical Physics….phase transitions….sound dull?  Not if your lecturer is Dr. Yong Mao and you get to witness demonstrations cooked up by lab technicians Paul Munday and Denise Watt. The following footage filmed by one of our students went a bit viral on Reddit this week:

Pouring boiling water onto liquid nitrogen from interestingasfuck


And it’s even better with sound:

Pouring boiling water onto liquid nitrogen from ThatsInsane



Obligatory safety note: one of the byproducts of combining water and liquid nitrogen is a whole lot of nitrogen gas – which of course will cause problems if it displaces the much needed oxygen in an enclosed space. Viewers can be reassured that the lecture theatre is well ventilated, and this demonstration (as with all the demos we do) was risk assessed and safety approved, including calculations on oxygen depletion verified by meter readings in front of a selected panel. No student was harmed in the making of this video!

Posted in TeachingUndergraduates