A scientist, liquid nitrogen and 1500 ping pong balls

Liquid nitrogen is pretty dangerous stuff on quite a few levels — not the least of which is is volatile explosiveness.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

Liquid nitrogen is pretty dangerous stuff on quite a few levels — not the least of which is volatile explosiveness.

The boiling point of liquid nitrogen is -196 degrees Celsius — so at room temperature, it becomes a gas very, very quickly. As it vapourises, it expands — so if you put it in an enclosed space, things can get a little ... explodey.

To demonstrate how this works, Dr Roy Lowry of the UK's Plymouth University put together the following:

  • A plastic bin

  • Some warm water

  • A plastic bottle

  • Liquid nitrogen

  • 1500 ping pong balls.

You're probably already imagining the results, but it's even better than that. Watch the video below to see. We recommend you watch the whole thing, because of the science — but if you're too impatient, skip to about 3.45 for the money shot.

That would have been a right bollocks to clean up.

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