Dry ice, solid chunks of carbon dioxide, plop one by one into a shallow layer of water. As they disintegrate, they jet across the liquid’s surface with vaporous swirls and trails. This is Icy Bodies by artist and exhibit designer Shawn Lani. The London Telegraph described the installation as possessing “a beauty that belongs as much in an art gallery as it does here, in a science museum.”
Filmed by Martin Fischer at Switzerland’s Technorama, this entrancing dry ice installation is just one of over a dozen versions that can be found in museums and science centers around the globe. From the Exploratorium in San Francisco:
Like comets, these chunks of dry ice slowly disintegrate as they move. Comets are massive chunks of ice, frozen gases, and dust that orbit the Sun. As they near the Sun, these lonely travelers begin to give off gas, gradually shrinking and forming glowing tails that can stretch for millions of miles. Here, dry ice twirls in water just as comets move through space: ever changing and slowly dying until only fading clouds and memory remain.
Watch these related videos about dry ice, comets, fog, installations, and sublimation:
• What is a comet made of? Dara Ó Briain’s Science Club demonstrates
• Triple Point of Water Demonstration
• A night time-lapse of Comet Lovejoy
• Space Rocks: Comets, asteroids, meteors, and meteorites
• DIY Cloud Chamber: How to build your own particle detector
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