The Leidenfrost Effect, Or: How It's Okay To Stick Your Hand In A Can Of Liquid Nitrogen

July 16, 2009

Science is amazing. And I'm not just saying that because it's my only hope of cloning dinosaurs or inventing a time machine. Yes I am. But still, the Leidenfrost Effect is cool too.

The Leidenfrost effect is a phenomenon in which a liquid, in near contact with a mass significantly hotter than the liquid's boiling point, produces an insulating vapor layer which keeps that liquid from boiling rapidly. This is most commonly seen when cooking; one sprinkles drops of water in a skillet to gauge its temperature--if the skillet's temperature is at or above the Leidenfrost point, the water skitters across the metal and takes longer to evaporate than it would in a skillet that is above boiling temperature, but below the temperature of the Leidenfrost point. It has also been used in some dangerous demonstrations, such as dipping a wet finger in molten lead or blowing out a mouthful of liquid nitrogen, both enacted without injury to the demonstrator.

Well neato. If you don't like reading the guy in the video explains the whole Lederhosen effect and even demonstrates the water on a hot surface and dipping your hand in liquid nitrogen experiments. So, watch that while I run to the restroom.

Okay, now which one of you jokers filled the toilet bowl with liquid nitrogen? And, hypothetically, how long do you think it takes to thaw a frozen python? And, if using a microwave, should you use the defrost or popcorn button?


Thanks to towhee, who, like all women, has a heart that pumps liquid nitrogen.

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