20 grams of melt-in-your hand gallium

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/19/20-grams-of-melt-in-your-hand.html

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That reminds me of the beloved puddle of mercury I kept in a dish and spent hours playing with as a child… Wait, what were we talking about?

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Pro-tip: if you live in a warm climate and your gallium sample arrives in liquid form … put it in the fridge for an hour or two to make sure it turns solid. If afterward it is still liquid, you’ve got yourself a tube of mercury and you probably don’t want to be playing with it :slight_smile:

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Don’t let it touch any aluminum!

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and report the seller to the authorities for transporting unlabeled hazardous materials. maybe a few fines will change their attitude.

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Now I just need a teaspoon mold

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I was thinking the same thing…

Did anyone here ever get some kinetic sand to mess around with? Videos of that were all the rage a while ago and I think I might have seen some in the bargain bin the other day.

Kinetic sand, and all the impostors, is a lot of fun. I like playing with it as much as my kids do. Watching it crumble is very soothing. But the kids make a huge mess every time and the wife made us throw it out.

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I tried to get my gallium to do this, but i guess I didn’t scratch the anodizing hard enough or i didn’t let it set long enough, but it did not seem to effect it.

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Ga is one of those cool materials that, like water and plutonium, expands when it freezes. Be sure to keep it in plastic and not glass.

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Don’t try this with Purple Power Degreaser-Cleaner. Or do if you want to poke your fingers through tops of aluminum cans.

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Gallium is perfect for the old “disappearing tea spoon” prank.

A whole other series of pranks presents itself with this information…

When I was in first grade (1969…old), my teacher passed around a vial of a really cool liquid metal. We all got to pour it in our hands and play with it. Total enjoyment!

It, of course, was mercury.

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My first job when I dropped out of graduate school was as an engineer’s aide. He boasted of making a bong using gallium – you mixed the weed in the liquid gallium, then heated it and (he claimed) you only got the purest smoke (and the best high) from it. I thought maybe, just maybe, you also inhaled gallium vapor; probably not the healthiest thing. I only made simple water bongs out of chemical glassware. Ah, memories…

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Worth pointing out that for this reason, gallium is classified as a dangerous cargo and cannot be brought on to an airliner without permission. So if you’re thinking about giving it as a present, don’t pack it in your luggage.

Likewise, elemental mercury - such as in a thermometer or a barometer is also banned by airlines.

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Yeah, I’m slightly older than you. Different times, but every time I think back on that, it still kind of trips me out that the adults in my life weren’t aware of the hazards of mercury.

I used to use this a lot in the lab. When you mix it with Induim, the melting point is even lower, so you can score a hole in the surface oxide on silicon to make an electrical contact , and the liquid metal on top of it will prevent it from re-oxidizing.

Indium is super expensive, though.

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Ga has a really low vapor pressure. One of the lowest of the liquid elements I think. Whether or not it’s suitable for bongplay, I’m not sure…