See this exhibit in the relocated and reinvented Launchpad - the Science Museum's most popular hands-on, brains-on gallery – when it opens on the 24th November.
Little pieces of solid carbon dioxide (or dry ice) plop into a pool of water and float across its surface, ricocheting off the walls, creating misty swirls and spurting out jets of gas. The astonishing, mesmerising patterns that form and reform will keep you occupied for ages.
Most things go from solid to liquid, then gas, but carbon dioxide is weird. It sublimes, which means it goes straight from a solid to a gas, without being a liquid first. As the dry ice floats around on the water and warms up it emits jets of gas, making it spin and swirl. The cold gas creates mist around the pellets, adding to the beautiful effect you see.
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