9 June 2011
The Graduate Schools hosted their annual live chemistry show, The Elements: From Bigger Bang to iPad, last month, with over 250 postgraduate students experiencing explosive demonstrations, including a phosphorous sun and hydrogen-filled exploding ostrich eggs. Sam McKenney (Human Resources) sneaked in to report on the event:
“I’ve always enjoyed chemistry shows, and knew I was in for a good one when the demonstrators turned up in their impressively tie-dyed lab coats. One of the most interesting musical experiences I’ve ever had was thanks to some experiments with helium and sulphur hexafluoride at the event. Everyone knows helium raises your voice pitch significantly, but people might not know that sulphur hexaflouride does the opposite – making the demonstrators’ performance of Bohemian Rhapsody very memorable.
Another thing the audience won’t forget is an experiment where a baked bean can was wrapped in lead azide and a charge sent through it, blowing the lid right off. While it was a controlled explosion behind a safety screen, that didn’t stop one unfortunate audience member having a close encounter with some baked bean juice.
Everyone was kept on the edge of their seats throughout the experiments. I really enjoyed the show. It wasn’t just about the pyrotechnics and the spectacle – you got to understand some of the science behind it.”