Home Uncategorized Caesium in water is the most beautiful explosion

Caesium in water is the most beautiful explosion

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Caesium is a curious alkali metal known to be extremely reactive and
super-explosive when it comes into contact with water – even at
temperatures of -116 °C (−177 °F).

 
 As part of a short video series
capturing some of the most beautiful chemical explosions, the team at SciencePhotoLibrary decided to film a sample of caesium reacting with water using a high-speed camera. Here’s what happens when you
cool down caesium with liquid nitrogen before dropping it into water. We
can’t stop watching.
The caesium sample they used was kept in liquid nitrogen before it was
dropped into the water from about a metre above. The water was set to
room temperature, and contained phenolphthalein, a chemical compound that turns colourless in acidic solutions and pink in basic solutions.
“When we were filming our caesium in water, we expected it to cause a big explosion, much like the rubidium did,” they write at their YouTube channel.
“Instead we saw this: a series of small, pulsating explosions as it
sank. We shot this three times and it was the same each time.”

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So
what’s going on here? When caesium makes contact with water, it reacts
very rapidly, and forms a colourless solution of caesium hydroxide
(CsOH) and hydrogen gas (H2). This reaction is so fast, that if you
tried pouring water into a test tube containing caesium (don’t do it),
the glass container would shatter all over the place. Here’s what it looks like usually:


But in the SciencePhotoLibrary footage,
that’s not what happens. The explosion is smaller, and more contained,
sinking down into the water, surrounded by large plumes of hydrogen
bubbles.
The team responsible for the experiment is stumped, and
we’re not entirely sure what’s going on here either. It could be that by
cooling down the caesium sample, the reaction has been slowed down, so
instead of the usual fireworks, we get a more languid series of
explosions pulsing through the water. Or perhaps the large hydrogen
bubbles produced by the reaction are shielding the caesium from the
water somewhat, and in that way, slowing down the reaction.
If anyone knows the answer,Feel free to comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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