Kaleidoscope: the science behind the demos

Our latest Science Theatre show, Kaleidoscope, is a little bit different. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know that it is about observing the world closely and inspiring curiosity. We’ve packed it full of beautiful demonstrations, but might not have had time to answer all of your questions. This might be why you’re here!

We hope you enjoy watching the videos and learn more about the colourful world of chemistry.

Flame colours
Fire can be mesmerising. Hear Elin explain how we can use metal salts to give us flames of different colours.

Bottle fountain
Air pressure pushes down on us all the time. We don’t always feel it, of course, but we can see it in front of our eyes in this demo.

Hidden painting
Our Science Explainers love any excuse to don a beret, especially when they have the chance to surprise you with their amazing art skills. The blue pigment is called Prussian blue, and is favoured by artists. The demonstration may be simple, but the chemistry is complex.

Rainbow tornado
The simplicity of this demonstration is mesmerising. Indicators are used all the time in chemistry to show if a substance is acidic or alkaline. We use Universal Indicator in this demonstration, giving us a full rainbow of colours. By alternating the acid and alkali in a spinning liquid, we get the coloured tornado.

Traffic lights in a bottle
The colours change as the bottle just sits there – bizarre! As we say in the video, the chemistry of this reaction is complicated. The Royal Society of Chemistry has a good article if you’d like to find out the reasons behind this chemical reaction.

Water to wine
This demonstration is an old favourite, because understanding the science is better than magic (to us, anyway). Can you turn a colourless liquid pink, and a pink liquid colourless? Yes, you can! (Hint: it’s all done with indicators.)

Methane bubbles
This may look like an impressive and dangerous demonstration, but our Science Explainers are trained to carry it out safely. The methane gas rises from their hands, lifting the flames away. What better way to end the show?

We love this show because it shows science like it really is – not knowing something and trying to understand the world. We think it’s quirky, fun and beautiful, and we hope you agree.

You can see Kaleidoscope in Life’s Science Theatre until 14 January 2018.

Kaleidoscope Science Theatre show

About Marilena Pace

Ciao! I’m Marilena, the Lab Technician in Life’s Experiment Zone. I enjoy experimenting, trying cool things and finding new exciting stuff to put under a microscope! Find me in the lab for a chat about science.
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