Topic: atoms

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Don’t extinguish a metal fire with water

How do you extinguish burning magnesium? In this video from the Royal Institution, science presenter Steve Mould demonstrates what happens when you try to extinguish a metal fire with a CO2 fire extinguisher or water—...

How is black fire made?

This is not a special effect. This is black fire. When you mix a sodium street light or low-pressure sodium lamp with a flame, you'll see a dark flame thanks to the sodium and some excited electrons. "It's strange ...

Thermal expansion sphere and ring demonstrations

If you ever had trouble twisting open a jar lid that's stuck, try running it under some hot water. When you try again, it will most likely pop open with a twist thanks to thermal expansion. Most (but not all) matter w...

Airglow & the secrets behind Earth’s colorful ionosphere

What does our planet look like from space? Most are familiar with the beloved images of the blue marble or pale blue dot -- Earth from 18,000 and 3.7 billion miles away, respectively. But closer to home, within the ne...

The Universal Pattern Popping Up in Math, Physics, & Biology

Scientists have discovered a mysterious universal pattern that "connects a bus system in Mexico and chicken eyes to quantum physics and number theory." MentalFloss summarizes the formerly hidden phenomenon, known as u...

What is fire? Is it a solid, a liquid, or a gas?

Sitting around a campfire, you can feel its heat, smell the woody smoke, and hear it crackle. If you get too close, it burns your eyes and stings your nostrils. You could stare at the bright flames forever as they twi...

Use a 9-volt battery to break water into its elemental components

In the 1987 miniseries The Ring of Truth: An Inquiry into How We Know What We Know, Philip Morrison proves that a water molecule is composed of two hydrogen (H) atoms & one oxygen (O) atom with a simple demonstration....

How To Capture A Scent, an easy science experiment

If you've ever wanted to capture your favorite smell—a rose, cinnamon, a pine tree, a campfire—this easy experiment might be able to help. From Science Friday: Aha! Here's how to capture a scent. With the help of some...

The Genius of Marie Curie

Dr. Marie Curie transformed science and society with her discoveries. Her scientific partnership with Pierre Curie and the story of their heroic efforts that led to the discovery of polonium and radium are legendary.....

How to make an Amazing 9 Layer Density Tower

Water is less dense than honey. Rubbing alcohol is less dense than water. Poured carefully on top of each other, from heaviest to lightest, they can create distinct layers. Add more liquids of different densities, suc...

Why is syrup sticky?

Water isn't sticky, and sugar on its own isn't sticky either. So why is syrup—a heated, melty combination of water and sugar—so very, very sticky? Emily Elert of MinuteEarth explains the sticky molecular structures of...

The scientist that grows ‘identical twin snowflakes’

Snow crystals form when humid air is cooled to the point that molecules of water vapor start sticking to each other. In the clouds, crystals usually start forming around a tiny microscopic dust particle, but if the wa...

Welding in Space

On June 3, 1965, after America's first spacewalk was complete, the two Gemini IV astronauts, spacewalker Edward H. White II and command pilot James A. McDivitt, had trouble getting the hatch closed. They managed to, a...

A Sketchy History Of Pencil Lead

When fifth-graders at Green Acres Elementary in Lebanon, Oregon asked the NPR Skunk Bear team how pencil lead was made, they looked into it... way into it. From the start of the universe (with a shout out to Carl Saga...

How to Design a Particle Accelerator

What is a particle accelerator and how would you go about designing one? We've heard of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, but what of the tens of thousands of other accelerators being used in science and medicine? ...

How To Make Glow-In-The-Dark Slime! – Gross Science

Phosphors, polymer chains, and photons! In this episode of Gross Science, Anna Rothschild shows us how to easily make glow-in-the-dark slime using common household items: Hot water, borax, glow-in-the-dark paint, and ...

How Do Sharks and Rays Use Electricity to Find Hidden Prey?

Imagine if you had six traditional senses instead of five: Sound, sight, touch, smell, taste and... What might you pick? Echolocation? Magnetoreception? How about electroreception? Sharks, rays, skates and sawfish...

Explore the Science Behind Fireworks—and the Galaxy

When you watch fireworks burst with color, you're seeing examples of how stars and galaxies work: Blues from copper, yellows from sodium, bright whites from aluminum, barium greens, and reds made from strontium... The...

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