Sunday, September 19, 2010

Liquid Nitrogen Hand Dipping

It's no secret everyone has heard of liquid nitrogen one way or another. It regularly shows up in movies (where it's instant freezing capabilities usually turn any bad guy into a frozen popsicle that inevitably breaks into a million pieced), and is also known as being any extreme overclocker's best friend, allowing computer components to run high above their specified speeds (like these RAM wiorking at 3+GHz.).

Hoever, one question jumps to mind: what if one were to dip their hand into liquid nitrogen? Would it instantly freeze solid like in the movies?

Nothing like testing it out...

As you can see, due to the extreme temperature difference between your skin and the liquid nitrogen (196°C/321°F) an insulating layer of nitrogen gas forms- a phenomenon known as the Leiden-frost effect- keeping you safe... for an instant.
It's precisely the same effect that happens when you're walking over burning hot coal or dipping your fingers into molten lead (in this case the temperature difference being the opposite; your skin is the cold element.)

As always do not try this at home!

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