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The Kid Should See This

Adiabatic expansion and how to make a cloud in a bottle

If you happen to have a small amount of rubbing alcohol—which evaporates more easily than water—along with a large plastic bottle, a rubber stopper, and a bicycle pump with an inflating needle, you can create your own cloud in a bottle. Or watch science facilitator Kat Hamill make them in this 2015 Science World video.

At Science World in Vancouver, British Columbia, Hamill demonstrates how a change in pressure and temperature can create clouds or fog inside two different containers: a plastic bottle and a larger glass flask. What is adiabatic expansion? Some context from Britannica.com:

…adiabatic expansion is responsible for the formation of clouds and plays a part in the formation of upslope fogs that are formed by the forced ascent of humid air up the sides of hills and mountains.

The mixing process is manifest when air that has been in contact with a wet ground or water surface having a different temperature from that of the air above is mixed with this air.

adiabatic expansion
cloud in a flask
Find more Science World activities on their YouTube channel.

Then watch more videos about clouds and the water cycle:
How did clouds get their names?
• Why do clouds stay up?
How to Make a Cloud in Your Mouth
• Why is water one of the weirdest things in the universe?
DIY Cloud Chamber: How to build your own particle detector
• Why Most Rain Never Reaches The Ground
The Water Cycle: A boogie woogie stop motion clay animation

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