Coke-Propane Rocket Blasts Off Without Ignition

Everyone’s seen the Diet Coke and Mentos “experiment” that ends in a brown eruption. But have you seen the Coke and Propane experiment insanity that results in a rocket launch? As [Itay] pointed out when he sent us the tip, this doesn’t need to be lit. The simple act of turning the bottle upside down starts a powerful reaction without any ignition.

coke-propane-rocket-thumbOf course it’s the how of this that tickles our brains, but let’s finish the setup. This starts with a bottle of Coke which is about 3/4 full. The head space is displaced by spraying propane into the bottle; propane is heavier than air. All that’s left is to turn the bottle upside down and pray it doesn’t smack anyone in the noggin as it takes off.

In trying to find an explanation for this phenomenon we came across a plausible answer on the Chemistry StackExchange. It points to the Mentos phenomenon combined with the temperature differential caused by the very cold propane. The answering user theorizes that tiny ice crystals form and when the bottle is turned upside down the cold propane and micro crystals rise through the warmer soda acting as a much more rapid catalyst than Mentos alone. Of course this is just a theory so please share your own ideas below.

We thought the folks who microwave stuff outside of a microwave enclosure had their fill of danger but this videos is also one of theirs. It should be no surprise that they also tried the experiment with an ignition source. That video is found after the break and should immediately convince you to never try any of this yourself.

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Lab robot demonstrates mastery of culturing and other tasks

Lab work is a pretty good job. But sometimes being around hazardous samples, or completing tedious and repetitive tasks leave scientists looking for a different way. This robot seems to know its way around a lab. The folks behind it claim it’s more precise than veteran lab technicians, and that it can complete the tasks in half the time.

After watching the video (embedded after the jump) we’re quite impressed. The dexterity shown by the system illustrates care down to the tiniest of details. This is because everything the robot works with has been passed through a 3D scanner in order to establish a virtual model. This way the training is done in the computer. The robot can be run though any number of scenarios before it actually starts working with infectious materials like the influenza virus and other not-so-nice microbes.

What we’d really like to know is what kind of visual feedback system is being used.

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