There are chemical reactions going on all around us that would leave your head spinning. However, they’re happening at such a small scale that you don’t really get a good macroscopic look at them too often. Well, luckily there are chemists and reckless tinkerers to blow things up. Let’s zero in on some of the coolest chemical reactions.
10. Supercooled water
Everything about this image seems wrong. If water is cold enough to freeze, it should be frozen, right? Water’s freezing/melting point is 0°C, but the crystallization process needs some sort of impurity or nucleation site to begin. That’s not a problem most of the time, but very pure distilled water in a smooth container can become colder than freezing without crystallizing. Here, supercooled water is poured out, and the disturbance causes it to crystallize instantly.
9. Mercury (II) thiocyanate
Mercury(II) thiocyanate decomposition is initiated by heating.
8. Radon in a cloud chamber
A cloud chamber is a particle detector used to study ionizing radiation. The environment inside the chamber is supersaturated with alcohol vapor. When a charged particle (like an alpha or beta particle) zips through the gas, it ionizes it causing condensation trails to form. Here, the radon 220 atoms are decaying into stable lead atoms and releasing two alpha particles (helium-4 nuclei) ions the process, which are producing the trails.
7. A kernel of corn popping