Today we're welcoming back the marvellous mind of scientist Dr Zoe Laughlin, who's here to help us find the fun in our regular household objects. Today Zoe will expanding, compressing, exploding and even turning milk into plastic! It's just another day of Wonderstuff...
Super Absorbent Polymer
Super Absorbent Polymer is an ingredient behind expanding snow, as well as the filling inside nappies and sanitary towels. The molecules are able to absorb and retain large amounts of liquid. They absorb water which gets between the chains inside the molecule and forces it to swell to up to 100 times its original size.
The wonder of mass
Tungsten and Aluminium are two very similar and are pure elements (they are both on the periodic table). They can't be broken down. The one colossal difference is their mass. Tungsten has much heavier atoms, which affects its weight. Tungsten is also a harder metal and is often used for the tips of tools as well as being used in the filament of incandescent light bulbs (an electric light which produces light when a filament wire is heated to a high temperatures by an electric current until it glows).
Making plastic out of milk
If you add a form of acid (in this case vinegar) to warm milk, the milk will split and curds will form from the fat and proteins of the milk. If you pull the solids from the milk, and leave them to dry, they will harden into plastic. This plastic is formed from casein (this is what is separated from milk). You can shape and mould the plastic before it dries. It is used in industry to make paints, and some plastics.
Custard powder explosion
Custard is a very fine powder. If you turn any material into a powder it becomes more flammable because there is more surface area and more material in contact with air. The smaller bits will catch fire quicker. WARNING: THIS SHOULD NOT BE TRIED AT HOME