As part of British Science Week, Loughborough University hosts a ‘Community Day’ event where Loughborough locals are invited on campus to take part in various ‘science based’ activities.
This year it falls on 25th March I will be:
- Coordinating an Electrodough workshop – for which we’re looking for student ambassadors.
- Running a ‘Cold Science’ demonstration with liquid nitrogen.
- Working with the East Midlands Institute of Physics to deliver several ‘busking’ activities – for which I’m looking for student ambassadors.
If you’re interested in getting involved please let me know.
Roughly the same cost (weight for weight) as a pint of milk, it’s a common feature in science fiction films: the nitrogen dewar in the background that might at some point be used to freeze that alien chasing you down the corridor…
But how much liquid nitrogen would it actually take to do this?
Hint: Assume the creature weighs about 50kg and has a heat capacity of 2000 J/K/kg. Liquid nitrogen has a temperature of 77K and latent heat of 199 kJ/kg. For arguments sake, let’s say the creature becomes vulnerable at 250K…
Now let’s add another complication: the Leidenfrost effect. As a coolant, the low boiling point of liquid nitrogen (77K) typically means that it will boil off so fast on contact with another object much hotter than it, that a ‘protective’ layer of air is formed. This will insulate said object from the cooling effects of the liquid nitrogen, for example preventing cold burns for anyone crazy enough to stick their hand in a bucket of liquid nitrogen for a second or two. CAUTION: This effect will not stop you from getting burnt as more nitrogen is added.
For more see Wikipedia entry for liquid nitrogen