See-through skin

A ’vein-viewer’ works by using infrared light to image the presence of veins underneath the skin: The IR light is absorbed by the deoxygenated haemoglobin within veins. The locations of absorption and reflection are detected and the machine generates a corresponding projection using visible light. Find out more about how these devices are used in medicine in this video:

(via @rossexton)

We all know that ice is supposed to be cold, but can we use science to make ‘hot ice’? Of course!

Sodium acetate is a usually a crystalized powder solution but once it is boiled down with water, it becomes a liquid. If you pack the with a large amount of sodium acetate, you supersaturate the solution. 

The freezing point of sodium acetate is 136.4◦ F ( 58◦ C), so when you leave the solution to cool it will actually supercool which is freezing without solidification or crystallization. 

In the gif, a material with a bit of solid sodium acetate (in its crystal powder form) activates the the supercooled solution and triggers a crystallization! What’s really cool is that this process of crystallization releases heat, so it becomes extremely hot while also being frozen!

Stay Safe!



Vortex rings are wonderful at maintaining coherent vorticity while moving over significant distances. If you stand several meters from a foam cup and try blowing to knock it over, it’s not likely to budge. But move the air impulsively with a vortex cannon, and you can knock it over from the opposite side of the room. The same principle works underwater with added visual effect. Here an impulsive burst of air exhaled by the diver forms a bubble ring with vorticity strong enough to knock over a stack of rocks. It may look like a superpower, but this is science! Dolphins and whales are also known to play with this trick. For the non-scuba-divers among you, it’s also possible to learn to do it in a swimming pool. (Video credit: DjDeutchTv; h/t to coolsciencegifs)

Pouring an ice cube using supercooled water:

The temperature of the liquid water is reduced below its freezing point, without becoming a solid. The ice wont form without the presence of a nucleation point (a crystal or impurity around which an ice crystal can begin to grow). However, on contact with another surface, the water instantly freezes. Check out how to make instant ice at home in this video:

(via Ross Exton)

Phosphoric acid and tooth over 365 days

If you didn’t know already, phosphoric acid is in cola and other soft drinks. THIS is what it does to your teeth… tooth enamel erosion and tooth decay. 

This is post number 12 from the “Acid + things” series for today.

Edit: Weds 9th April, 2014: I’ve been criticised for this post exaggerating the effects of phosphoric acid on tooth enamel. Just to clarify, this tooth was submerged in cola for a whole year. Your teeth would not degrade to this extent unless you kept your mouth constantly full of soft drink and practised absolutely no dental hygiene whatsoever. However, the fact remains that phosphoric acid in soft drinks can damage teeth by contributing to enamel erosion and tooth decay.

Brush your teeth, kids!



Images + GIFs : Deep-Sea Creatures

Continued: Last week we used GIFs to introduce some creatures that live at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, as captured on this live-stream for the past weeks. Here’s more! 

There’s a lot more photos and explanations where that came from.

Brought to you by: Researchers aboard the Okeanos Explorer who operated the sub; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who led the expedition; and GIF-extraordinaire Rose.

The Rainbow Fizz experiment (Acids and Bases)

“Sodium carbonate solution is added to a burette containing a little hydrochloric acid and Universal Indicator. The two solutions react, with effervescence (fizzing), and the liquid in the burette shows a ‘rainbow’ of all the colours of Universal Indicator from red through orange, yellow, green and blue to purple.”

Find the method here, with my old friends at the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Gif source: The CoolScienceGifs lab!



A new type of rewritable paper that uses water as ink could slash the amount of paper that’s wasted daily, researchers say. The paper contains hydrochromic dyes — chemicals that change color when wet — and a single page can be reused dozens of times, the scientists report in Nature Communications. Other types of rewritable papers have been developed, but they are all more expensive and energy-intensive to produce, and some versions use inks that pose environmental and safety hazards. The new system costs less than 1 percent of standard inkjet printing, the researchers estimate, primarily because ink cartridges are expensive. The researchers found they could refill standard ink cartridges with water and use them, along with the rewritable paper, in typical desktop printers. Print on the rewritable paper is only visible for about 22 hours, or as long as it takes the paper to dry completely. The scientists note that, while 90 percent of business information is retained on paper, most printed documents are read only once before being discarded.

Hydrochromatic dyes are already used across the world and are not a new discovery. The first gif above shows hydrochromatic dye painted on the inside of a shower room, so that when the cubicle becomes wet, brilliant designs become visible. 

The second gif shows hydrochromic inks in a paper advertisement, that only become readable when doused in water

source 1, 2, 3

Comets: The Dirty Snowballs of Space

Comets are huge rocky bodies in space, that can be several miles in diameter. The objects are covered in frozen carbon dioxide, water, carbon compounds, and even complex organic molecules like amino acids. Some comets orbit our solar system over the course of hundreds of years, others only survive a single trip before plunging into the Sun. To find out more about comets & how to make a miniature one like this, using with some dry ice and Worcester sauce, check out the source video:


We sat down with the Parks and Recreation star, Nick Offerman, who plays the whiskey-quaffing, meat-loving Ron Swanson in the show, and talked about building things. 

Popular Science: One of our favorite Ron Swanson lines is: “Any moron with a crucible, an acetylene torch, and a cast-iron waffle maker could have done the same…. People who buy things are suckers.” How much have your own interests crept into your TV character?

Nick Offerman: A great deal of Ron is taking aspects of my life and writing them in a cartoony way. I would not have the ability to rip a couple sconces off the wall and hand you a couple wedding rings a half an hour later, but I do make a lot of stuff at my shop. It’s a frequent topic around the writers’ room. The fact that I could make a canoe or a paddle or a jig for flattening wood slabs seems like absolute necromancy to them.

Read the rest of the Q&A here.

(Photo by  F. Scott Schafer)

Ammonium dichromate volcano (Vesuvian Fire)

Ammonium dichromate (NH4)2Cr2Ois a pretty nasty chemical. Not only is it incredibly toxic, but carcinogenic, oxidising and corrosive on top of that. However, when initiated with a heat source, a beautiful reaction occurs with bright orange ammonium dichromate crystals as they thermally decompose into dark green chromium (III) oxide.

It looks very much like a volcano! 



The flight of the European Starling

Flocking starlings are one of nature’s most extraordinary sights: Just a few hundred birds moving as one is enough to convey a sense of suspended reality, and the flock filmed above the River Shannon contained thousands.

What makes possible the uncanny coordination of these murmurations, as starling flocks are so beautifully known? Until recently, it was hard to say. Scientists had to wait for the tools of high-powered video analysis and computational modeling. And when these were finally applied to starlings, they revealed patterns known less from biology than cutting-edge physics.

Starling flocks, it turns out, are best described with equations of “critical transitions” — systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling in a flock is connected to every other. When a flock turns in unison, it’s a phase transition.

At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When a neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock’s size and speed and its members’ flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes. What’s complicated, or at least unknown, is how criticality is created and maintained.

It’s easy for a starling to turn when its neighbor turns — but what physiological mechanisms allow it to happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds? That remains to be discovered, and the implications extend beyond birds. Starlings may simply be the most visible and beautiful example of a biological criticality that also seems to operate in proteins and neurons, hinting at universal principles yet to be understood.




Polyurethane foam expansion

Polyurethane (a polymer) foaming by the chemical reaction of two components: Isocyanate (the dark component in this video) and polyol containing chemical additives and blowing agents (the clear component). The chemical reaction generates heat- an exothermic reaction- which contributes to the expansion and final curing of the foam. The proportions and formulations of both products are defined according to the industrial application: flexible, semi-rigid or rigid foams. 

Typical flexible polyurethane foams: mattresses and automotive seating.

Typical semi-flexible polyurethane foam: steering wheels.

Typical rigid foam: insulation in household refrigerators.

video and blurb source

THC molecule necklace pendant in gold.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive substance found in the cannabis plant. It was first isolated in 1964. In pure form, it is a glassy solid when cold, and becomes viscous and sticky if warmed. An aromatic terpenoid, THC has a very low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents. (from Wikipedia)

Love the gif, thanks for the submission. From and moleculestore.tumblr