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Music for chemistry demos

Well the other day I tried the reaction of acetone and oxygen using hot copper wire as the catalyst, the experiment worked very nicely. I tried it in two different bottles, I found in a wine bottle that too little air could get to my copper wire and the reaction stopped due to lack of oxygen.

In a wide necked bottle the reaction went on and one as oxygen could get into the bottle to keep the reaction going.

I then looked on youtube to see if anyone else had done the experiment and filmed the results. I then saw


I watched the film and I then thought, several things.

1. Why did they choose that music ?

If I had been doing it I would have wanted something from the sound track of bladerunner or Manhunter (the first film about H . Lector MD). But they are free to have whatever music they see fit.

2. Why do they not explain the chemistry at the surface. I might be a super nerd for thinking this but when I see the experiment what I think is “What are the molecules doing at the surface” Do I have oxygen bonding to the copper and what would the LEED of O on Cu be like ?

I thought at length about this question of the chemical state of the copper surface. A quick search of the chemical literature revealed that some work has been done on the topic.

Bluhm H, Havecker M, Knop-Gericke A, Kleimenov E, Schlogl R, Teschner D, Bukhtiyarov VI, Ogletree DF and Salmeron M published a paper in the “Journal of Physical Chemistry“, 2004, volume 108, page 14340 in which they wrote about the oxidation of methanol on a copper surface.

3. Why was the coin a silver colour, I would always use copper metal for this experiment but their coin was something else.

I will be commenting further on this topic when I have had time to think and draw nice pictures to explain things.

Warning : If you try the hot copper and acetone experiment then take great care as acetone (propanone) is very flammable. Near the neck of a bottle or jar containing acetone will be an explosive mixture of air and acetone.

Next I saw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nyzlt-dVgWQ&feature=fvw which comes with a strong health and safety warning. It is about the reaction of Mn2O7 with ethanol. This is a super violent reaction which makes lots of light. I would suggest that you do not do that one at home ! I will not be trying that experiment either at home or in a chemistry lab.

Disclaimer, while Dr Mark Foreman takes all reasonable care to comment on interesting chemistry and create safe and enjoyable experiments I accept no responsibility for any death, injury, disease, property damage, prosecution, criminal court case, tort, civil court case or other adverse outcome resulting from you trying out an experiment of mine or using any information I provide. All experiments are done at your own risk. If you are not an adult you must consult your parents and/or science teacher before trying an experiment. If you are doubt about your ability to do the experiment in a safe manner then do not attempt it. Also I accept no responsibility if your mum/dad/teacher/policeman/(insert some other authority figure) tells you off for doing the experiment. Also I am not responsible for your moral, social and spiritual wellbeing. Also if you hate the experiment and do not enjoy it or are left with an intense feeling of self disgust then again I am not responsible. If you read this disclaimer or anything else I write and have some adverse reaction to my words such as going insane, laughing yourself to death, pushing your blood pressure through the roof or some other effect then again I accept no responsibility. Also if you use information in my blog to answer an exam question then I offer no warranty to how good the information is. If you take material from my blog and try to pass it off as your own when you hand in your home work then I take no responsibility for you or offer any sympathy when your teacher tells you off (I hope that the teacher is reading this blog also)

While I do not want any person to reproduce the text in this blog for commercial purposes, I freely give my consent to students to quote from it when they are doing school or university work as long as they make it clear that they are quoting me. A suitable way of doing it if your teacher, prof or instructor has given you no advice is to use the following method.

Mark Foreman wrote “verbatim quote from Mark Foreman” [1]


You can paraphrase me but you should say where you got the information from using a reference.

lastly put the references (at the bottom of the page or end of document), I will be perfectly happy with the following text.

1. Mark R.StJ. Foreman, 2010, blog titled “whatever“, URL, date you looked at the blog.


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