Watch a Former NASA Engineer Turn Sand Into Liquid—Then Take a Dip
NASA engineer-turned-YouTube host Mark Rober is known for regularly conducting zany science experiments in his own backyard and filming the results. More than a year after he went swimming in a sea of Orbeez, Rober's latest stunt features him taking a dip in a hot tub filled with liquid sand.
But wait: Wouldn't bathing in liquid sand be akin to taking a really grainy mud bath (albeit with great exfoliation potential)? Rober isn't technically wetting down the granular material, as he explains in the video below—he's making the sand sift, blow, and bubble using nothing but a nitrogen tank and some PVC pipe.
“If you take a tub of sand ... and then add air in just the right way, it basically becomes a liquefied soup,” Rober explains of the seemingly magical process. “In science this is known as a fluidized bed," or a bed of small, solid particles that are suspended and galvanized by an upward flow of gas.
The upwards-blowing air is equal to the downward force of gravity. This causes the sand to hover in equilibrium, and allows the grains to slide around like water. The top surface of the mix "is nearly frictionless," Rober says. "It's like an air hockey table. And then when you cut off the air, it freezes everything exactly where it's at," prompting the tub's ingredients to transform back into ordinary, heavy sand.
[h/t Twisted Sifter]