liquid nitrogen and gasoline

Sometimes, it’s the simple pleasures in life that make it worth living. Watching the ocean’s waves break on cliffs or grass grow, for instance. For me, it’s liquid nitrogen skating on gasoline.

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Typically when liquid nitrogen lends its -196°C (-320.44°F) touch to objects, it almost instantly chills and covers them in ice. When it meets a liquid, however, it barely affects it. For instance, this video shows how one daredevil dropped a few tablespoons of Mr. Freeze’s favorite liquor on a bed of gasoline, isopropyl alcohol and water.

Because the liquid nitrogen is far less dense than any of these liquids, it floats above them. Moreover, the low temperature does create a layer of ice between the two matters — but only a very thin one, just enough to act as an insulator. Spurred by a temperature gradient, the liquid nitrogen simply floats and spins around the enclosure, bumping against whatever surface meets its tracks while emitting interesting vapor shapes as it evaporates.