Abar of ivory soap is placed inside the microwave. After two minutes on high heat, the door swings open and here comes the reveal. What you see inside the microwave now doesn’t resemble that bar of soap in the slightest, but this isn’t some sort of magic trick. You’re still looking at ivory soap, but the air molecules inside of the bar have expanded and a transformation has occurred. This is the result of Charles’ Law.
Jacques Charles was a French mathematician, scientist, and inventor whose most notable work came during the late 18th century. Charles was the first to discover that hydrogen could be used as a lifting agent in balloons. In fact he was the first individual to ascend in the air via a hydrogen-filled balloon, though there’s no clear answer as to how high he rose and how long he was in the air. This is certainly a memorable feat, but what the Frenchman is most known for is his work that later became Charles’ Law.
Charles’ Law, or the law of volumes, simply states that a gas tends to expand when heat is applied to it. This law was published in 1802 by French chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, who credited Charles for all his work on the subject. So, because ivory soap is full of air molecules, it begins to expand when placed in the microwave. It’s a pretty fascinating watch, as the bar of soap will writhe and wriggle until it nearly takes up the entire space. For those of you wondering, the soap can still be used, it’ll just be a bit flakey and delicate.
This BuzzFeed-produced video features a few other science experiments that are great to do at home – especially if you have curious children around. One of the more interesting – and visually appealing – experiments showcases the transfer of water through a plant. It calls for a flower (preferably white in color) and some food coloring. Stick the flower in a cup of water, add some food coloring, and over time you’ll see the flower’s petals begin to absorb that color. This is a great one for kids because not only is it exciting to watch, but it also teaches how water is absorbed into a plant.
Check out the video below to watch these experiments in action. Let us know which was your favorite, and be sure to SHARE the clip with your friends and family.