Watch: Creating and containing a small explosion in a kitchen strainer

The Action Lab's James Orgill writes, "In this video I show you how it is possible to contain the fire from a burning ball of propane in a wire mesh." Yes, it is possible. But that doesn't mean you should do it. In fact, you shouldn't.

The experiment demonstrates the phenomenon behind the Davy Lamp, a lamp that Sir Humphry Davy invented in 1812 for use in coal mines. From Wikipedia:

The lamp consists of a wick lamp with the flame enclosed inside a mesh screen. The screen acts as a flame arrestor; air (and any firedamp present) can pass through the mesh freely enough to support combustion, but the holes are too fine to allow a flame to propagate through them and ignite any firedamp outside the mesh. It originally burned a heavy vegetable oil.

The lamp also provided a test for the presence of gases. If flammable gas mixtures were present, the flame of the Davy lamp burned higher with a blue tinge. Lamps were equipped with a metal gauge to measure the height of the flame. Miners could place the safety lamp close to the ground to detect gases, such as carbon dioxide, that are denser than air and so could collect in depressions in the mine; if the mine air was oxygen-poor (asphyxiant gas), the lamp flame would be extinguished (black damp or chokedamp). A methane-air flame is extinguished at about 17% oxygen content (which will still support life), so the lamp gave an early indication of an unhealthy atmosphere, allowing the miners to get out before they died of asphyxiation.

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How far will a cat reach to get a treat?

In this video, The Q Cut a small hole in a cardboard box and placed a small piece of meat in it for his cat to take. Then, he put a new piece of meat in the box, a little farther away, to see if the cat would be able to reach it. He repeated the experiment several times, increasing resistance each time.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Man launches iPhone XS into the sky because reasons

I'm not sure if the first thing on my to-do list with a late model $1,000 handset would be to tether it to a whack of party balloons and launch it into the atmosphere, but hey: to each their own. That said, you can't argue with the view! Read the rest

Watch this build and test of a high velocity vortex cannon

A low velocity vortex cannon isn't too hard to make, but a vortex cannon that's this high velocity takes a lot of trial and error. Read the rest

Watch Skippa the rock-skipping robot get optimized

Skipping stones takes a little practice and finesse, so Mark Rober enlisted his extended family to help build the perfect rock-skipping robot. Their creation, named Skippa, ended up helping humans learn, too. Read the rest

Squirting superglue into a borax solution causes quite a reaction

Kids are going crazy making slime with borax and what-not after watching YouTube, but these household chemicals can have seriously powerful reactions that need to be done cautiously. Read the rest

Watch what happens when gallium gets put on this aluminum racket

YouTuber DaveHax had some gallium lying around, so he wanted to see the chemical reaction when it was applied to an aluminum tennis racket. Read the rest

Mice can get into amazingly tight spaces

I spent the last few days fighting off a mouse infestation in our RV. So far I've trapped and tossed six of the furry little bastards out on their asses. As I began the search for where they were getting into our rig, yesterday, I got to wondering how much space they can actually squeeze through.

According to this video, I'm doomed. Read the rest

Whipped cream in a vacuum chamber

Can you de-whip whipped cream and meringue in a low-pressure environment? This important question was posed by The King of Random. The results are expansive.

The experiment repeated in a larger chamber:

"In a vacuum chamber" could be the new "by a hydraulic press" Read the rest

Experiment: can a pop bottle explode on the store shelf?

Who wants to see a lot of plastic beverage bottles get filled with pressurized air until they explode with a loud bang? I do, and so did Chris Notap, who decided to see what it would take to make a pop bottle pop. The pressure in a bottle of pop is about 50 psi, and the many different kinds of bottles Chris pumped full of air exploded at between 150 and 250 psi. The explosions were quite violent. Chris says the caps are designed to come off before the bottles can explode, which is a relief. Read the rest

Watch: A man lights a sphere made of 42,000 matches and it's stunning

What started off as an experiment to see how many matches it would take to create a sphere ended up as a gorgeous video of what a 42,000-match sphere looks like when it burns. It took months and months to glue the matchsticks together, and only minutes to go from flames to black smoking ball. The fiery green sphere was shot from three different angles – watch them all, as each angle has its own dramatic beauty. Read the rest

Miniature motors powered by spinning drops of liquid

If you've ever observed "wine legs," the rivulets that form when you swirl wine in a glass, you've seen the Marangoni effect. Watch how scientists are using this effect to create tiny motors that emit no pollutants. Read the rest

Watch a super cooled nickel ball freeze a bowl of mercury

Take one nickel ball, a half liter of liquid nitrogen, and a bowl of mercury, and watch what happens when the supercooled nickel sits in the bowl of mercury for a while. Read the rest

Egg drop experiment fails

Soaring to a millions views in a matter of hours, this video (permalink) illustrates the trials and tribulations of science. Come for the experiment, stay for the peer review.

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Blomkamp to make experimental film series

Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp (of District 9 and Chappie fame) is producing a series of experimental short movies to be released on Steam and YouTube.

He'd teased the idea in a tweet posted in April, and the response was good enough to get the green light, with the director promising a level of transparency and public collaboration rarely seen in Hollywood.

Here's a teaser:

Embedded up top is the "Presidential Motorcade" clip Blomkamp released during the presidential election campaign, with its freaky gold nightmare limousine crawling along to 14 seconds of tense synthetic murmurs. More! Read the rest

Satisfying shaving cream eruption inside a a $30 DIY vacuum chamber

Chris Notap is having fun with his $30 DIY vacuum chamber. In this video, he experiments with shaving cream inside a bottle with different kinds of nozzles cut into the screw-on caps. Read the rest

Fun with plasma vortex force fields

YouTuber Proto G shot these cool experiments with plasma vortex force fields. Scientists are looking into large-scale practical applications of the force field generated in this manner: Read the rest

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