How Lava Lamps Work | How Things Work with Kamri Noel

KAMRI: This is so trippy. I could stare at this
lava lamp for hours! Wake up Kamri. What exactly is a lava lamp? Is this even lava? And how does the lamp create
such mesmerizing floating blobs? To shed some light on
this lamp I’ve brought on the help of an expert. There she is now! ASHER: Whoa!
Groovy loft. Far out. KAMRI: Thanks.
Are you my expert? ASHER: Yeah, I’m Asher Jay. National Geographic Explorer
and a creative conservationist who knows her lava lamps. They’re beautiful
examples of how science
blends with creativity. Now let’s see your lamps! Hypnotic, aren’t they? KAMRI: Yeah.
So first question. Am I actually looking at lava? ASHER: Nope! Lava is just a marketing
name corporations give it. You’re looking
at two substances floating in harmony. KAMRI: How exactly do
they float in harmony? ASHER: To build a
true lava lamp, your substances need to
have different densities. KAMRI: So one substance
will sink to the bottom. ASHER: The other, and this is
my favorite: immiscibility. KAMRI: What’s immiscibility? ASHER: It’s a fancy science
term meaning unmixable. The two substances in a lava
lamp are typically water based liquid and a waxy compound. They can never
dissolve into each other. You can see it at home when
you combine: oil and vinegar. They never truly
blend into each other. KAMRI: Yet they taste
great on a sandwich! All right, I see how two
immiscible substances form the blobs in the lamp. But how do they
rise up and down? ASHER: That comes from
the power of your lamp’s magic light bulb! KAMRI: Magic light bulb? ASHER: OK, it’s a
normal lightbulb. But the heat from the
bulb brings the magic! The heat causes the
blobs of wax to rise, as they get further
away from the bulb, they cool. Then they fall back down
to the bulb and the cycle begins all over again. KAMRI: Why does the
heat cause them to rise? ASHER: For that, we’d have to
view the blobs on a molecular level and there’s no
way we could possibly. KAMRI: We could use my
molecular shrink ray! ASHER: Ya! We could do that! Honey, let’s shrink us kids! KAMRI: These must be
the molecules of the
lava lamp’s blobs. ASHER: As the blob heats up,
the molecules spread apart, lowering its density. KAMRI: And a less dense blob
will float towards the top. ASHER: Exactly. Now watch. See how the blob cools off, the
molecules pack closer together? It’s making the
blob more dense. KAMRI: It’s amazing to
look at a lava lamp from inside its own molecules! ASHER: Yes!
Can we go home now? Kamri? Kamri? Kamri! KAMRI: Now that you
know how that works, catch up on all the other
episodes of How Things Work by clicking right here. And also make sure you
subscribe to Nat Geo Kids by clicking down here. See you next time, bye! Captioned by Cotter
Captioning Services.

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