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Frostbite Theater

Behind the Scenes

A behind the scenes look at the making of an episode of Frostbite Theater!

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

Joanna and Steve: Just science!

Joanna: Hi! I'm Joanna!

Steve: And I'm Steve!

Joanna: Welcome to the behind the scenes look at the making of Frostbite Theater.

Steve: Yes, today we're hoping to film three... three?

Joanna: Two.

Steve: Because Joanna doesn't think she knows her lines for the third one yet. But three episodes, well, two episodes of Frostbite Theater. But, before we do that, we want to give you sort of feel for what goes on into making these things.

Today, the ones we're filming are actually the most challenging ones we've done to date, both from a safety standpoint and from a logistics standpoint. The ones we're filming today deal with liquid nitrogen and with liquid oxygen.

Now, liquid nitrogen, here at the Lab, liquid nitrogen is not a big deal. We can go out, two buildings over, and I can find two thousand gallons of nitrogen sitting around. So, getting the nitrogen here is not a big problem. But is does pose dangers. Just because we have lots of it doesn't mean that it's a safe material. So, when we do our little experiments, you'll always notice that Joanna and I, we always have goggles on and we always have gloves on. That's because, obviously one of the dangers with liquid nitrogen that, since it's very cold, it can freeze parts of us and we'd rather not have our eyeballs frozen. We'd rather not have or hands frozen. One thing that's not so obvious, is that we're also wearing jeans and closed-toe shoes. We don't want it, if it spilt in our laps, to cause problems or, if it goes into our shoes, to also cause problems there.

Um, they're a lot of videos out there, that I've seen personally on the internet, where people who should know better are just kind of using the thing rather cavalierly without any safety equipment. And it's good just to show a good example of proper safety procedures for use of nitrogen.

Another potential danger with the nitrogen is if we spill a lot of it. If you look around, this is a fairly decent size room. But, we need to know how much nitrogen we can bring in here so that, if we spill it, we don't kill ourselves. Right? The main goal of these things is to not kill ourselves.

Joanna: Or maim ourselves, preferably.

Steve: Or maim, yes. Killing or maiming is not a good thing. So, we need to know how big the room is, how much air is in the room, and we know how much nitrogen expands when changes to a gas, so we can calculate, if we spill a certain amount of nitrogen, what the oxygen content of the room is going to be. And the rule here is, 19.5 percent. If it gets lower than 19.5 percent, if the oxygen gets lower than 19.5 percent, we can't do it. So, we know how big the room is, we know how much nitrogen we have in here, so we can calculate, are we in the safe zone or not.

Joanna: In addition to that we have safeguards in place so that if the oxygen were to dip, we will know. We have an oxygen sensor that will begin beeping and tell us to get out of the room if the oxygen level does dip below 19.5 percent.

Steve: The other reason why we have this thing is if the oxygen level goes too high. We're using liquid oxygen today. The big problem for us is that we don't use any liquid oxygen at the Lab. We don't have it. So, everything that we make, everything that we use today we have to make. So if you come around the corner here, we have our little liquid oxygen making stations. We're going to have test tubes set-up in liquid nitrogen so we can milk the oxygen out of the atmosphere for kind of dirty oxygen that doesn't need to look so good and we'll condense it with liquid nitrogen from these oxygen tanks to get the good stuff we'll see on camera.

The other big problem with oxygen is fire, right? We're going to intentionally be burning some stuff today, but if it gets out, that could be bad, right? We don't want to set Joanna on fire. So, to keep that from happening, we have Mr. Dave in the room. Mr. Dave is part of the Education staff and he has gone through fire safety training and his job today is to sit there, watch us screw up our lines, and put us out should we catch on fire. Unfortunately, the thing that bothers me the most, is in the training, they specifically said to put Joanna out first and if there was any fire extinguisher left, then they could take care of me. So... we'll have to see how that turns out.

Another person in the room that you don't see who's here all the time with us is Mr. Greg, who's actually filming this. And he doesn't want me to do this, but we'll do it anyway. I'm going to grab the camera from him. And I can't see what I'm doing. But, here's Mr. Greg and he's very tall, so I have to hold it up high, so here we go. He's helping us out here today.

What you also don't see are our practice sessions.

Joanna: And you will never see those.

Steve: You will never see those, because they aren't good. These are actually scripted, well, not what we're saying right now, but the things we're doing out there is actually scripted. And, yeah, it takes us awhile to get the lines right. So, for the two minute video clip you'll see it may take us an hour to make that. So, since time is getting late, we're going to get started.

Thanks for watching!

Joanna: See you again!

Steve: Bye!

Joanna: Bye!

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For questions about this page, please contact Steve Gagnon.