Science experiments in subzero temperatures


What do bubbles, balloons, and Becky Farr all have in common?

Well for one thing, we need air. Secondly, we all hate the cold.

I know how the cold affects me, so I figured I’d see what it does to some other things.

First up was a noodle test.

“After about five minutes, I should be able to let go of the fork and the noodles will be so frozen solid that it will look like nobody’s holding the noodles, yet they’re still standing straight up.”

The result? “They didn’t freeze, but I sure did.”

Still freezing, I moved onto bubbles.

“Normally when you blow bubbles, you can see them float away into the distance. But if it’s cold enough outside, they’ll actually crystalize and pop before they can really float anywhere.”

That’s exactly what happened, the bubbles froze in seconds before they snapped into snowflakes.

But what’s the science behind that? I went to an expert.

“Water’s kind of unique, it can be a liquid and a gas at the same time at the right temperature,” Chief Meteorologist Tom Schrader said, “But when you’re going outside on a really really cold day and throwing the water up in the air, what’s happening is the cold air can’t hold the moisture so it vaporizes. And you have soapy water, right? Well that soap turns white, it looks like snowflakes.”

Finally, don’t be discouraged by a droopy Valentine’s Day gift.

“This balloon has been sitting outside for about five or 10 minutes and you can see that it’s deflated quite a bit.”

But within seconds of a temperature change … “don’t worry if you go home with a floppy balloon this Valentine’s Day, because it will actually blow right back up.”

“Well the fancy term is kinetic energy, but really what’s happening is the molecules inside the balloon, when it gets cold, they get really lazy and they don’t fight against each other and the balloon shrinks. When it warms up, they start getting more agitated and it gets bigger,” Tom said.

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