Ellen Show Appearance - April 2010 Steve Spangler returns to the Ellen Show with 4,000 ping pong balls. Now what?
It's raining ping pong balls... and the sound is amazing!
After the ninth appearance on the show, nothing should really surprise the producers and crew at the Ellen Show... but this one was a little different. Based on the things that have fizzed, popped, caught on fire or exploded in the past, there’s no need for worry… right? Whenever Carly Reed (Steve's Manager) receives a call from Ellen’s producers, we know that it’s going to be a crazy few weeks of Steve practicing new science demos and sending the practice videos back to the producers to get their feedback. And it's not uncommon for the paint to still be a little wet on the props as all of the last minute tweaks are made.
Steve shared this with us when he returned home immediately after the taping...
"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 ran 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. Can't wait for you to see what happened."
Read more about this and see behind the scenes pictures on Steve's blog
Here are the science demos that Steve featured on the show...
- Cloud in a Bottle – A really visual way of creating a water vapor cloud instantly in a 2-liter bottle.
- Dust Explosion - Nothing happens when you try to ignite a pile of lycopodium on the table. 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. Lycopodium is a fine yellow powder derived from the spores of Lycopodium clavatum (stag’s horn club moss, running ground pine).
- Liquid Nitrogen Explosion - Steve 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. Steve came up with a way to illustrate this in the studio using a 55 gallon steel drum and a mess of ping pong balls (a clever idea from Carly Reed). 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.
Steve and Jeff came back after the commercial break to do one more liquid nitrogen demo outside where they shot a rubber trash can about 75 feet into the air. The producers loved the video of Steve 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.