October 10, 2017

Purdue chemistry show returns to campus

Smith chemistry Paul E. Smith, lecture demonstration director for Purdue’s chemistry department, performs a demonstration for the audience during a show. (Purdue University photo/Steven Scherer) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University’s annual chemistry show will allow children and adults of all ages the opportunity to visualize the basic principles of chemistry using candles on Oct. 21.

The show, titled “Michael Faraday’s chemical history of the candle,” begins at 10:30 a.m. in Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry, Room 200. It is free and open to the public.

Faraday, an English physicist and chemist whose work greatly contributed to the understanding of electromagnetism, is internationally known for his simple, yet elegant demonstrations of chemistry using candles. These candle demonstrations will be central to the show, along with Faraday’s observations on gases involved in combustion reactions.

Demonstrations will be presented by Paul Smith, lecture demonstration director for Purdue’s Department of Chemistry, and will include:

* A demonstration on the different states of matter that are present in a candle, showing how the flame of a candle is fed with gas products. This illustration will involve testing these gasous products and other gases on the burning flame.

* The creation and consumption of an edible “candle,” illustrating the act of combustion.

* Candle flames usually burn on standard color, but the show will present and explain the chemistry behind candle flames that burn different colors of the spectrum.

* A walk-through of how the first chlorine gas was made.

* Use of a spud gun to discuss and demonstrate different gases and their pressures. 

* A demonstration about liquids and surface tension that defies gravity. A scaled-down version of this demonstration will be given to every audience member to take home and try themselves.

The Department of Chemistry sponsors the show. Additional information is availale at https://www.chem.purdue.edu/chemshow/.

Writer: Olivia Crouse, ocrouse@purdue.edu

Source: Paul Smith, 765-494-5307, psmith4@purdue.edu

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