Freezing Balloons!

What happens when a balloon full of air is plunged into a container full of liquid nitrogen? Play the video to find out!

Announcer: Frostbite Theater presents... Cold Cuts! No baloney!

Joanna and Steve: Just science!

Joanna: Hi! I'm Joanna!

Steve: And I'm Steve!

Joanna: And this is a container of liquid nitrogen!

Steve: And this is a really big balloon!

Joanna: Let's see what happens when we place the balloon in the liquid nitrogen!

Steve: Okay!

Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait!

Isn't the balloon going to pop?

Joanna: We'll see!

Steve: Aw, man... Huh. Okay, so the balloon didn't pop. But, there's obviously a hole in the balloon somewhere because the air is leaking out. So maybe instead of popping, maybe the balloon just got really cold and it cracked like an egg and all of the air is slowly leaking out of the crack.

Joanna: Well, if that's the case, what's the balloon going to do when I take it out?

Steve: Nothing. It's a balloon with a hole in it and all the air is gone.

Joanna: Well, I say the air is still in the balloon.

Steve: So where's the air?

Joanna: Right there!

Steve: That's water!

Joanna: Nope! If that were water, it would be frozen solid. That's liquid air!

Steve: What?!

Joanna: When we place the balloon in the liquid nitrogen, the air inside the balloon gets really cold. When particles of a gas get cold, they start to slow down and take up less space. If we can get the gas cold enough, we can change it from a gas to a liquid. That's what happened inside the balloon. We changed all the particles of nitrogen and oxygen to a liquid!

Steve: So, how do I get my balloon back?

Joanna: We just have to place it someplace hot, like the table.

Steve: Oh, so I get it! Now the reverse is happening. The heat from the table is making the liquid air inside boil. When a liquid boils and changes to a gas, the particles move faster. When the particles move faster, they take up more space, and the balloon gets big!

Joanna: Exactly!

Thanks for watching! I hope you'll join us again soon for another experiment!

Steve: Let's try that again!

Not that side!

Subscribe to Jefferson Lab's YouTube channel and be notified when we post new videos!