We all love explosions, right? I bet that love of explosions came from science. Building a vinegar/baking soda volcano was probably the coolest experience you ever had as a child. Unfortunately, the allure of such childish explosions wears off with age. That’s why you have to kick it up a notch.
Dr. Roy Lowry of Plymouth University recently showed a group of college students what a real explosion is. The experiment in question takes liquid nitrogen and returns it to a gaseous state. The very smart people who run Plymouth’s YouTube channel explain what you are about to see:
The conversion of liquid to gas is endothermic as the nitrogen takes in heat from the water surrounding the bottle to break the forces holding the nitrogen molecules together. The pressure building up in the bottle is a measure of the potential energy. This is suddenly released as the bottle bursts, converting the stored (potential) energy to kinetic.
That might have gone over your head. If that’s the case, just watch the video:
It should be noted that you shouldn’t try this kind of experiment at home. Liquid nitrogen can be very dangerous. It’s still really awesome. This is why chemistry was always a joy whenever we got to go to the lab.