Dr. Zdilla at Sam Kean's Chemistry Cabaret, Philadelphia Science Festival, 2011
In the spring of 2011, Dr. Zdilla was a guest performer at the Philadelphia Science Festival's "Chemistry Cabaret," which that year was hosted by Sam Kean, the author of The Disappearing Spoon, the bestselling book on the history of the chemical elements.
Dr. Zdilla dons his periodic-table-themed safety gear.
Shown here, above and below is the Briggs-Rauscher oscillating reaction, in which starch, iodate, manganese(II), and peroxide are combined to generate a mixture which oscilates between dark blue and yellow for about fifteen minutes.
Next was a demonstration of generation of hydrogen gas from acid. Magnesium reduces protons to H2 (above), which can then be detonated by a flame (right).
Next, the Leidenfrost effect was demonstrated (garling liquid nitrogen). The Leidenfrost effect is the rapid vaporization of a liquid by a hot surface such that the liquid is suspended above the hot surface by a gas, and thus does not come into direct contact with the surface. For this reason, liquid nitrogen may contact skin for a short time without significantly cooling the skin. The Leidenfrost effect may be observed at home by heating a frying pan, and dropping water droplets on the pan.
As the final component of the presentation, Dr. Zdilla performed Tom Lehrer's "The Elements" on voice and guitar. While the other competitors at the cabaret also provided stunning demonstrations, such as chemiluminescence, elephant toothpaste, and heart-stopping explosions, ultimately Dr. Zdilla was awarded the highly coveted first prize award, "The Golden Spoon."