Becky Ditchfield never wants to know what we’re doing for our Science Mondays segment on KUSA-TV 9News. This was our last segment of the year and I wanted to make it one for her to remember. I pulled out an old favorite from the Spangler repertoire, but it was new to Becky. In anticipation of your next question, here’s the disappearing ink recipe.
We’re back from the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California with lots of fun stories from our latest appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. When I say ‘we’… I mean ‘we’ because there’s no way I could pull these segments off by myself. Jeff Brooks, Carly Reed and Lisa Brooks traveled with me and worked hard backstage and on the outside location shoot to make everything run smoothly. Unlike other talk shows, the people at the Ellen Show are used to pulling off big stunts… but even this one had everyone a little on edge because no one really knew what was going to happen to all of those ping pong balls. Watch the video…
The line-up of science demos was as follows…
- Cloud in a Bottle – a really visual way of creating a water vapor cloud instantly in a 2-liter bottle.
- The second demo was a Dust Explosion using a very fine spore called Lycopodium, a fine yellow powder derived from the spores of Lycopodium clavatum (stag’s horn club moss, running ground pine). By itself, the powder is not flammable. When the fine powder is dispersed in the air and each particle is surrounded by oxygen, it’s very flammable…and the fire ball is huge.
- We wrapped up the studio portion of the segment talking about the expansive nature of liquid nitrogen which boils at room temperature. If liquid nitrogen is contained while it’s desperately trying to expand, you get an explosion. The technical term for the reaction is a BLEVE – boiling liquid expansion liquid explosion. We came up with a way to illustrate this in the studio using a 55 gallon steel drum and a mess of ping pong balls. The look on Ellen’s face at the end is worth the price of all the work (and hoops we had to jump through) to do the demo.
I came back after the commercial break to do one more liquid nitrogen demo outside where we shot a rubber trash can about 75 feet into the air. The producers loved the video of us practicing the demo in our parking lot and wanted to recreate it outside on the Warner Bros. lot. Again, thanks to Jeff, Lisa and Carly for working with the props team at the studio to make this happen.
Here are just a few of the behind the scenes pictures. Hope you enjoy the final product which airs on Monday, April 26, 2010.
It’s been quite a year for us at Steve Spangler Science… in fact, when the year starts out with 50 off your closest friends helping you wish Ellen DeGeneres a Happy Birthday, you know big things are in store. Whether we were letting fans ride on the infamous Bed of Nails at NAEYC 2009 or launching trash cans with a police force audience, we can guarantee that 2009 was never boring. We’ve compiled some of our favorite highlights from the year, so feel free to browse through them and go back with us as we reminisce about our favorite moments from 2009… can you imagine what 2010 has in store?
… and when the smoke cleared Judson Laipply was gone.
[youtube width="560" height="340"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRk_qGbGVFE[/youtube]
Oh, you want the rest of the story? I first met Judson over the summer while we were both booked to speak at the same conference. When he mentioned he was coming out to Colorado in August, we made plans to get together. I got a text message from Judson that said, “Hey… do you want to do a video when I come out?” Given the well-known fact that I’m no dancer, you can imagine my apprehension about doing a video. Fast-forward to the day he stopped by to say hi and to check out our offices. When we toured our lab (some call it the playroom), I asked Judson, “Have you ever danced when explosions were going off next to you?” The answer turned into the video… let’s do it!
While Judson ran out to the car to grab his Orange Crush t-shirt, I pulled together a few science demos that I thought could be interesting… and not kill the dancer. I should mention that Judson was passing through Denver on his way to a gig in Wyoming – that’s why he had the t-shirt and music in his car. We only had enough liquid nitrogen to do one take, so that’s what happened. We set out the demos, listened to the music a few times and did it. So, if Judson looks surprised when the flames shot out of the bottle or the big ball of fire appeared or he was hit with the fire extinguisher… he was.
Thanks to Judson Laipply for stopping by and helping me make a huge mess.
I love getting feedback from our customers on the products that they have purchased from us and the experiments that they have tried. I love it even more when our customers use the materials we have provided and take them to an entirely new level. That’s why I was so excited to read an email I received from Steve Kuzmich.
Steve purchased our Omega Reflector Telescope to use to look at the Moon… then he hooked up his Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS and took some amazing pictures of the Moon. We always knew that the Omega telescope was an awesome product, but I had no idea what you could do with a telescope, a camera and a tri-pod.
For you techies out there, here are the specs that Steve was using to capture these amazing photos…
- Make – Canon
- Model – PowerShot SD1100 IS
- Color Space – RGB
- FNumber – 2.8
- Exposure Time – 1/60
- Focal Length – 6.2
- Tri-Pod – Sun Park
- Read the telescope specs