Don’t try this at home: TEDxTempleU speaker Mike Zdilla pours up a liquid nitrogen cocktail to demonstrate the Leidenfrost effect, a phenomenon that occurs when a liquid comes into contact with a surface that is much hotter than the liquid’s boiling point: in this case, liquid nitrogen and Professor Zdilla’s mouth.
Says Zdilla in his talk:
My tongue, as far as the liquid nitrogen is concerned, is incredibly hot. So as soon as it comes close — before it even touches me — it effectively is instantly vaporized into this barrier gas that protects me from the liquid nitrogen … So the liquid nitrogen doesn’t ever really actually touch my tongue.
Zdilla first tried this wild vapor-breathing as a way to explain the chemistry behind harnessing renewable energy sources — such as hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, and solar — and look for ways to make them work for us. Here’s what he discovered: