The Science Guy: Five of Bill Nye’s Most Memorable Experiments

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  • Bill Nye, one of the most well-known scientists in the last couple of decades, has performed many experiments over the years for audiences of all ages. They range from frivolous and fun to serious science, and hold attention like few scientists can. Though by no means a comprehensive list, these are some of the most memorable of experiments performed by The Science Guy himself:

    Atmospheric Pressure

    Encouraging his makeshift assistant to wear protective eyewear despite the low chance of danger for this particular experiment, Nye demonstrates atmospheric pressure with water and a large piece of plastic tubing. He explains that gravity is the cause for atmospheric pressure, all the while pouring water into the large tube, swirling it to aid in the creation of water vapor, and drops in a pair of lit matches to extinguish in the water and create dust particles. After removing some of the air from the tube by hooking a vacuum pump to a cap on the end, he removes the cap quickly, and the tube suddenly fills with an artificial cloud.

    Liquid Nitrogen

    Bill plays with liquid nitrogen on a few occasions, but in this experiment, he puts on a show for a middle school 20 years out from beginning his television show. He begins with a few facts, then pours liquid nitrogen into a beaker. After explaining how the substance behaves, he pours it from the beaker onto the floor, and to the students’ delight, it disappears in a puff of vapor.

    Playing With Fire

    After creating a flammable gas with wooden swizzle sticks, burning sugar with a blowtorch, and causing a spectacular display by simply mixing sugar with potassium nitrate and setting it ablaze, Nye moves on to what he calls a "practical application" of this particular experiment. He inserts a rag baseball into a plastic tube and places a few drops of petroleum naphtha in with it. By igniting a spark at the end of the tube, he fires the ball at enormously high speed into a baseball mitt mounted on a pole, knocking it over.

    Air Vortex

    With a large, plastic garbage bin decked out with a plastic membrane over the top and a hole cut in the bottom, The Science Guy aims to demonstrate how air vortexes work. Across the room, he lights a candle, declaring that he’ll extinguish it with nothing but the air from his homemade vortex creator. His assistant attempts to do so, making the flame only shudder. With some fine tuning by the scientist himself, he finally extinguishes the candle. Perhaps the more exciting part of the experiment lies in his demonstration of the vortex, making it visible with fog pumped into the mechanism.

    Implosion

    After explaining the principles behind implosion, Nye and his sketch show assistant approach a 55 gallon oil drum that has been heated over a propane burner. After putting a cap on so that the steam inside can’t escape, he moves the drum over a kiddie pool filled with ice water. Tipping the drum over and rolling it to begin cooling it, the ends make resounding popping sounds as they begin to collapse inward. In a startling display that makes even Bill himself jump, the drum crushes inward as if it’s nothing more than a soda can.

    Over the years, Nye has wowed thousands of onlookers with his passion and creativity when it comes to science. His star power, charisma, and smarts are undeniable, and he is surely one of the most beloved scientists (or humans period) of all time. All signs point to him continuing his brilliant career in enlightening the general public to the wonders of science for many years to come.

    The information for this article was provided by the science experts at Microscope.com, where you can learn how compound microscopes work.

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