Home Uncategorized Here’s what happens when hydrophobic sand is dropped in water

Here’s what happens when hydrophobic sand is dropped in water

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The material in the video
looks like normal sand and, as far as we can tell, feels like regular
sand. But it sure doesn’t act like it, as you can see in this episode of
BBC’s iconic quiz show QI, from 2012.

The experiment starts out normally enough, with host Stephen Fry
sprinkling some red sand into a glass of water, where it forms a thin,
floating layer. But then he shoves his finger into the water and instead
of going right through the sand, the grains form a barrier for his skin
and he emerges completely dry. 
So far, so strange. But things
get really bizarre when he adds a whole heap of blue sand, and it forms a
congealed, alien-looking structure submerged at the bottom of the
glass. When he scoops some of it out with a spoon? It comes out
completely dry and untouched.
We’re with the contestants on this one, it’s pretty much witchcraft. Except it’s even better, because it’s science.
The
experiment is also surprisingly simple to replicate at home. All you
need is some sand and some water-repellant spray, such as Scotchgard (or
gotchscard, which you’ll understand when you see the clip). You
spread the sand out and then give it a couple of genorous coatings of
water-repellant chemicals. Once it’s dry, you’re now the proud owner of
hydrophobic sand. 
You can also even buy hydrophobic sand, called Magic Sand,
that’s pre-made, and contains ordinary beach sand mixed with tiny
particles of silica. The combination is then exposed to vapours of
trimethylsilanol, an organosilicon compound, that bonds to the silica
particles, creating a hydrophobic coating for the sand.

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Both Magic
Sand and the DIY hydrophobic variety will do anything it can to avoid
contact with liquid, including forming strange formations underwater to
reduce surface area.
But if you think that’s cool, wait until you see kinetic sand, which is sand mixed with Silly Putty that’s forever wet. 
And scientists have now also used lasers instead of chemicals to etch this super-hydrophobic metal – it’s so hydrophobic, in fact, that water just bounces right off it like magic.

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