- Dreidelpalooza Video
Whether scientifically inclined or not, everybody knows about the old mentos in Diet Coke trick. The less familiar, more esoteric reaction of a Dreidel in Diet Coke is reserved for only the most daring of scientists. A Dreidel is a four-sided top typically used to play on Chanukah with each side depicting a specific Hebrew letter and each letter corresponding to a certain action. Due to the explosive nature of the Dreidel, games are played in secure environments, completely isolated from any external reactants such as Diet Coke. However, in order to promote Dreidelpalooza, an event organized by Students Helping Students to break the Guinness World Record for most Dreidels spinning at one time, two Chemistry Club members looked danger in the eyes and set out to execute a most daring feat – intentionally explode a Dreidel in Diet Coke. The outcome of this attempt appears below. The record was broken as 618 Dreidels were spun simultaneously on Tuesday November 30, 2010. The chemists were rewarded for their courage by having their video run constantly for over a week on all YU television screens and getting an honorable mention from Yahoo!.
- The Exploding Gummy Bear
“Was that a gummy bear?” you think to yourself, “I’ve seen nitroglycerin and I’ve seen trinitrotoluene, but just a simple gummy bear?”
Don’t worry, startled web-browser. You are not having a nervous breakdown. You have stumbled upon a very real, and very exothermic reaction between sugar and molten sodium perchlorate. The perchlorate ion acts as an oxidizing agent to facilitate the rapid breakdown of glucose into carbon dioxide and water (or in this case, steam). And energy in the form of heat and light! Here’s a video explaining the reaction:
And here’s a photo of the Exploding Gummy Bear team. Our motto…no gummy bear is too big:
- Pi Day
3.14159265358…Oh, sorry. I didn’t see you over there. Everybody knows about this type of Pi, but did you know that in Chemistry, Pi means something completely different? Chemistry investigates the ways different atoms bond to each other. There are two main types of covalent bonds, namely sigma and pi. Pi bonds are formed when double bonds are involved and they are characterized by non-spherically symmetrical orbital overlap, which results in the presence of a planar node, an area where electrons in these combined orbitals cannot be found. Pi-bonds are ubiquitous in nature and often dictate the chemical properties of a molecule. One example of this is the benzene ring, a base for many natural molecules. Two such molecules are cinnamon and vanillin, and in honor of Pi Day, the YU Chemistry Club gave out free cinnamon and vanilla doughnuts to the entire school.