Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 10:07:14 -0500

Author: James Braunsdorf

Subject: Re: Weird mercury tube


It is designed to be heated over a bunsen burner and as the mercury warms up
the colisions between mercury molecules and the glass chips causes them to
move rapidly an collide with each other and simulate molecular collisions.
As long as the instructor does it and doesn't let the students get at it to
break it open I would rate it not too hazardous. Ours has lasted more than
60 years and the students are usually intrigued by it.

The glass chips can be tossed up over half the length of the tube. Tyhe
action continues for a while after it is removed from the flame so it can be
carried to where students can see it better.

If you do decide to dispose of it I would think it would be worthwhile to
video tape it in action so you could show it to students.

Jim Braunsdorf

>My understanding of it was that it's designed to show Brownian motion of
>particules...the mercury heats up and moves the crystals. I had one around
>the lab....I disposed of it as a safety hazard.
>John Mocko
>On Tue, 28 May 2002, Duane Pontius wrote:
> > Greetings,
> >
> > We're moving into a new building, which entails plowing through piles
> > of weird objects in the demo room that haven't been disturbed for
> > decades. One item in particular has everyone puzzled. It's a sealed
> > glass tube with a few cc's of mercury and some bluish-purple
> > crystals. The tube is supported in a heat-resistant clamp, so I
> > presume it was once heated. Anybody have any ideas about what it
> > might be good for, or should I consign it for hazardous waste
> > disposal? Thanks.
> >
> > dp
> >
> >
>John Mocko
>Senior Teaching Laboratory Specialist (Lecture Demonstrations)
>Department of Physics
>University of Florida
>Gainesville, Fl.

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