By Maggie Koerth-Baker at 7:11 am Sat, Jan 30, 2010
A simple experiment makes a drop of mercury beat like a nervous, little mouse heart.
Thumbnail image courtesy Flickr user SharkeyinColo via CC
Amazing to think how quickly the surface reactions are happening, to let the beating oscillate at such speed.
How long will this continue?
Dunno. Until I stop being able to come up with interesting videos or an overwhelming number of readers tell me I’ve stopped being able to come up with interesting videos.
Lol I meant the reaction, not the science videos.
I was just curious because I was thinking how this could be harnessed to create energy. I can’t imagine it would be a very efficient fuel source but was still wondering…
Let this be a note to all women: if a man says something that can be taken two different ways, one good and one bad, he meant the good one.
Assuming you’re talking about the reaction and not the feature (which, as an aspiring science teacher I absolutely love), the beating will continue until you either run out of dichromate ion in the solution or the iron nail rusts away.
Regarding the feature, I hope this continues for infinity+1. I love science that captures the imagination. My grade school had way too little chemistry magic. Fermo-magnetic fluids are another great area of inspiration (IMHO).
Do you mean ferromagnetic fluids? A vid of that has also been posted on here, quite stunning… http://www.boingboing.net/2009/12/05/saturday-morning-sci-8.html
My humble thought is that these need to continue, i always make a point of watching them.
Only 141st St.? You should of at least make it to the G.Washington Bridge (178 St.)!
What is providing the energy for this? It can’t just keep on going for ever.
My guess is that eventually the Mercury droplet will dissipate and no longer touch the Iron nail.
I’m 56. When I was a kid we used to play with mercury a lot. It was fascinating that mercury was the only liquid metal. We’d push it around with our fingers. I recall that one of my high school teachers had a small bottle of it and we played with it on our desks at school.
Am I going to die? (I mean, of mercury poisoning!)
Probably not, but skin contact should be avoided. Although absorbsion through the skin is slow, it doesn’t take much to have permanent effects.
Vapors containing mercury, both elemental and in compounds, are much more dangerous. Heating elemental mercury is just asking for trouble.
I agree with the other commenters — please keep the science around! My only suggestion would be to pick images for the header that actually represent the video — I clicked the crafty looking metal heart picture, expecting a contraption with mercury inside it or something. The actual video was cool, but a bit of a let-down after that. :)
you can do it with water too. This was shown on TV a couple days ago on TV here in Spain but i cant find the video on youtube
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