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Sci-Tech

Flaming thermite + H20 = awesomeness

If you ever accidentally dump your stockpile of thermite, which you've also accidentally set on fire, into a tub of water, this YouTube video will give you an idea of what to expect.

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The Backyard Scientist throws some flaming thermite into a tank of water for your personal amusement because you probably don't have fire insurance.Video screenshot by Danny Gallagher/CNET

Admit it. Part of the fun of conducting scientific experiments is just getting to watch something burn. It doesn't mean that we're Donald Sutherland in "Backdraft." It's more like being on "MythBusters." Sometimes, the real lesson we learn from experiments that involve lighting a fuse and running behind a plexiglass shield is that it's fun to break stuff.

The Backyard Scientist loves to just throw something hot or volatile into another liquid to see what will happen. Since none of those concoctions have killed him yet, he's got a large collection of videos on his YouTube page, like his recent experiment involving a lava lamp and molten aluminum.

His latest concoction is one of his simplest. He decided to test what happens when you drop a bunch of different molten metals like aluminum, lead and tin into a tub of water. Typically they turn into frozen globs of hardened metal, but the very end of the experiment when he lights a batch of thermite on fire and throws it in the tank is worth the wait, giving a beautiful light show suspended in water.

Thermite is a mixture of iron oxide and powdered aluminum that can produce a ridiculous amount of heat when lit with an extremely hot heat source. According to Make Magazine, thermite can burn at an insanely high temperature that can "heat the iron far past its melting point -- enough to spew out sprays of spark and melt adjacent hunks of iron." So it goes without saying that you shouldn't try this at home without someone who is experienced in handling such materials or who at least has a really good attorney on retainer.