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We Made an Accidental Discovery

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13:04   |   Dec 09, 2018

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We Made an Accidental Discovery
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  • In today's video,
  • we are going to be showing you some experiments using gallium,
  • aluminum, and acid.
  • [Music]
  • We've done some fun experiments with gallium in the past,
  • including making some little Lego men,
  • full gallium copy of my face,
  • and we've just melted it down, and played with it.
  • Today, we want to look at a little bit more of some
  • of the chemistry behind gallium,
  • and how it reacts with some other stuff.
  • Here's the basic idea.
  • We are going to be taking our gallium,
  • and we are going to be putting it through a few basic tests
  • to show you just how different it is.
  • So gallium is the element 31,
  • and it's actually in the same family of some metals
  • that you may be familiar with, like aluminum,
  • but there are some vast differences.
  • We want to show you what some of those are.
  • Most famously, gallium has a melting temperature
  • that is way lower than aluminum,
  • and lower than almost any other metal.
  • This cast of my face is probably about 60%
  • of all of the gallium we have,
  • maybe more, and we need it for some experiments.
  • So this, unfortunately, is now going to get destroyed.
  • [Music]
  • My face is now melted.
  • So we've got plenty of liquid gallium to play with.
  • Let's see what we can do with it.
  • Gallium melts to a liquid
  • at about 85 and 1/2 degrees Fahrenheit,
  • which is about 29 and 1/2 degrees Celsius.
  • This gallium,
  • which was on the stove,
  • even though it was on its lowest setting is
  • quite a bit warmer than that,
  • hot enough that it's a little bit uncomfortable
  • to stick our hands in for any extended period of time,
  • but we can still do it for just a second,
  • and you can see how it reacts and moves.
  • So some people think
  • that gallium is toxic or not safe to handle,
  • that's simply not true.
  • Mercury, which looks very similar is,
  • but gallium, as far as we know,
  • it's just fine.
  • And when she says we,
  • she doesn't mean we didn't do any research.
  • We as in all tests indicate that metallic gallium is safe.
  • One note, although it's
  • not toxic, it does have a tendency to stain a little bit,
  • like it just leaves some residue.
  • Well, we don't feel
  • like we need to be wearing gloves for safety reasons.
  • We do like wearing gloves for staining reasons.
  • This should come out with just soap and water though.
  • Soda cans are made from aluminum,
  • and aluminum reacts interestingly with gallium.
  • We're going to do an experiment to show that effect.
  • So the aluminum can has like paint,
  • and it has a coating on it
  • so that your drink is absorbing aluminum as you drinking it.
  • So what we're going to do is we're going to sand the bottom
  • of this can a little bit,
  • we're going to pour some of our molten gallium into a bowl,
  • and we're going to set the can in there,
  • and we're going to let it sit for a while,
  • and see what it does.
  • Aluminum usually has an oxide layer on it,
  • even when it's not painted.
  • Now, that actually keeps it from reacting with water
  • and other things,
  • but it's also going to keep it from reacting to the gallium.
  • So not just the paint,
  • but the oxide layer itself has to come off,
  • and then you'll actually see
  • how quickly it will soak that up.
  • Perfect.
  • We're going to place that on the stove,
  • in the spot that keeps it warm,
  • and just let it sit and absorb.
  • This right here is some aluminum mesh.
  • Useful for a lot of things, but right now,
  • we're just going to use it because...
  • >> It's aluminum. >> It's aluminum.
  • Regular sheet of aluminum foil.
  • You can tear it.
  • It tears fairly easily,
  • but it also doesn't just fall apart.
  • Nothing's happened to it.
  • However, take a little bit of the gallium.
  • We got a little bead out there.
  • I'm just going to spread that around on the surface.
  • [Music]
  • Just destroyed.
  • This soda can has now
  • been sitting in this gallium for quite a while.
  • We actually left a soda can in the gallium overnight,
  • and so it's really had a chance to absorb a lot.
  • The gallium did actually solidify at one point,
  • so it wasn't necessarily sitting in there
  • like constantly overnight
  • because it only has the effect
  • when gallium is actually liquid and can be absorbed.
  • So it's several hours worth,
  • and and there's already some deformations that have happened.
  • You can actually,
  • if you can see into the can, well,
  • if you can see along the side,
  • this entire side of the can is just shattered.
  • Also, you can see that the can is shorter.
  • Like this can is raised up higher at the bottom,
  • but it's still lower down than this one.
  • Our can is just, I think melting down.
  • I want to try and--
  • I'm going to try and pick it up.
  • The bottom is like--
  • Oh, the bottom just tore open
  • when it caught on this other piece of aliminum.
  • Okay. So this is interesting.
  • Where that air bubble was,
  • where we couldn't actually get it.
  • >> The very bottom still ##-- >> The very bottom is just fine,
  • because there was an air bubble protecting it from the gallium.
  • So this is an aluminum can,
  • with about the structural integrity of aluminum foil.
  • Maybe a little, yeah, less than aluminum foil.
  • And it's not just where it was.
  • You can see that it was cracking all the way up the edges,
  • and this is just tearing as I touch it like newspaper.
  • There it goes.
  • RIght there.
  • So this...
  • This what were pulling off right now,
  • I think is the plastic coating
  • that's on the inside of aluminum cans,
  • which is now also soaking gallium.
  • So it looks like metal.
  • But this right here,
  • so has now had that coating removed.
  • So this is just aluminum, that's soaked up gallium.
  • It wasn't in direct contact in the bottom,
  • but just falls to pieces.
  • Oh, man.
  • I mean, a normal aluminum can isn't hard to crunch,
  • but it doesn't fall into pieces like that just did.
  • And most of that can wasn't in the gallium,
  • it was just connected to it,
  • and it just drinks the gallium up into the metal.
  • All right, aluminum mesh.
  • Down where it was in contact is just falling apart.
  • Aluminum reacts to water.
  • We had a lot of aluminum sitting in here.
  • I want to know
  • if this gallium will now react to water even just a little bit.
  • Let's pour a drop of water in, and see
  • if it does anything.
  • Damn.
  • This gallium soaked up so much aluminum,
  • it's now reacting to water.
  • Now, if you saw our experiments before when we
  • were dripping the gallium into a glass of water,
  • it wasn't doing anything.
  • It was just sort of pebbling up.
  • This is not gallium supposed to do.
  • This is the aluminum.
  • So for our next test, we are actually going
  • to try something that we have seen before.
  • It's called the Gallium Beating Heart.
  • Now, you take about 2 grams worth of gallium.
  • You drop it into sulfuric acid.
  • Then you introduce a metal rod.
  • It has to be an iron rod,
  • and when you do that,
  • it causes the gallium to expand and contract so fast,
  • it actually looks like a beating heart.
  • So we've got
  • our six more concentration of sulfuric acid here,
  • which has been warming up gently on the stove.
  • It should be warm enough
  • that it will melt are two pieces of gallium,
  • which will then for ito beads, which will then join together.
  • We'll start with one, just in case.
  • [Music]
  • So the hydrogen is still coming off of this,
  • but as soon as I touch it with a piece of iron,
  • the gallium itself should relax.
  • That's we want to have happen.
  • Soon as I let go,
  • it's going to contract, and we want to see that change.
  • There you go.
  • You can see the bead is moving.
  • It's not just being pushed by the iron,
  • it's actually reacting to the iron.
  • It's running away from it.
  • I'm not moving, guys.
  • It's doing that on its own.
  • [Music]
  • Okay, so this is kind of cool.
  • As soon as he does that, you can see
  • that the whole piece of gallium relaxes.
  • So that's what's happening here.
  • I think I said it a few times already,
  • but it's contracting and relaxing.
  • The iron is actually causing it to relax?
  • So what's causing
  • that little beating heart is that...
  • Iron comes in contact with it,
  • which makes it relax just a little bit,
  • but it relaxes out from under the iron,
  • so it's no longer touching the iron,
  • and so it beats back up.
  • And then it beats back up and touches the iron again,
  • and the whole cycle just starts and goes over and over.
  • Which is also why we're able to push it around
  • without even really touching it.
  • Another test we're gonna try is this rather solid aluminum bar.
  • We'll just sand this down a little bit,
  • and sit in our warm gallium.
  • In this one,
  • we're actually going to let go for a while.
  • This is going to be heating up on our stove for about two days,
  • because I really want to give it a chance soaked through.
  • Okay.
  • Well, we actually pulled a cooking show trick,
  • and we didn't put this in, and let it sit live right now.
  • I've put one of these bars into some gallium two days ago,
  • and now, we're showing
  • you what happens when you pull it out.
  • But it really has been sitting for two days so...
  • That completely intact aluminum bar got eaten away a lot.
  • Before and after.
  • These were exactly the same length too.
  • So one thing I do want to test is the strength.
  • I don't know how this one will hold up to this one.
  • So I'm just going to take a hammer.
  • I'm gonna hit this one for a control test,
  • and then I hit this one and see if it's any different.
  • I haven't done this before,
  • so I'm not sure how it's going to go.
  • [Music]
  • It slightly dented it.
  • That's about all.
  • Let's try it with this one.
  • [Music]
  • Oh, well, it...
  • It wasn't as fragile as I thought it was going to be,
  • but it is definitely still coming apart.
  • It looks like metallic tree bark.
  • That's kind of coolest, like aluminum core.
  • Very organic looking texture on it.
  • More robust than I thought it was going to be,
  • but this is not what happens to regular aluminum.
  • That has just turned into shards.
  • We have melted down some aluminum in our furnace,
  • and now we have some solid gallium pieces,
  • and we want to see what happens if we put the solid gallium
  • into the liquid aluminum.
  • I know it will melt them,
  • but I want to see if it'll melt them down well,
  • if it will turn into all one alloy,
  • and then see if that's any different after we pour
  • that out, and let it cool down.
  • [Music]
  • It's got some slag in it, but it's molten.
  • [Music]
  • The aluminum is reacting to the water.
  • Yep, almost instantly.
  • Yep, that's pretty normal.
  • But we're using sand,
  • so that all of that reacting boiling water can escape down,
  • and it doesn't cause the aluminum to pop up.
  • Do you think it's actually going to stay together in one piece,
  • or is it going to be too brittle and just fall apart?
  • I think it'll stay together.
  • I think it's going to be really really weak bar here.
  • See? Okay.
  • This is what I want.
  • I want to know.
  • Nope.
  • That just fall apart?
  • It's just--
  • it fell right apart.
  • Let's see if that same thing happened with the big ones,
  • but that is very weak so far.
  • >> It's just like-- >> Crumbly almost.
  • It's like sand.
  • It's not holding together at all.
  • Like it's going to form,
  • it's going to solidify just fine,
  • but we're going to be able to just crush this.
  • [Music]
  • We now have an alloy with gallium and aluminum here.
  • Let's just to see what happens when I drop it.
  • >> Yes. >> It's like shock.
  • It's fragile.
  • Wow.
  • Very fragile.
  • The world's worst metal to construct with,
  • gallium-aluminum alloy.
  • So this is just been soaking in the water for just a minute,
  • and like I think it's actually extracting the gallium
  • from the aluminum here.
  • It's just all the water is reacting with the aluminum,
  • and then what gets left behind is little gallium silver beads.
  • Our aluminum-gallium bar that we broke into lots
  • of pieces has now been sitting in the water overnight,
  • and I am very surprised at what happened.
  • It is amazing.
  • I thought maybe it would like fall apart a little bit,
  • but this is...
  • Now, you can't really see into the liquid.
  • The liquid is just opaque gray,
  • but we still have hydrogen rising.
  • So the gallium itself completely ruined.
  • This is fun too because,
  • what's coming off the, all these bubbles forming?
  • [Music]
  • Okay, but now...
  • Check out-- Check out what happens to the metal rod
  • that we made.
  • We now have metallic sponge.
  • It like--
  • It just absorbed water.
  • It just pulled itself apart, sucking in the water.
  • It barely holds itself together.
  • I can squish it.
  • All of those bar pieces just turned into this.
  • I can't even pick one up without breaking it.
  • It smooshes.
  • Guys, we've got a sale going on in the store right now.
  • A couple of shirts, including this one, are $19.99.
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In today's video we're doing a couple different experiments with gallium and aluminum, including turning one of them into a sponge!

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