A liquid oxygen droplet flattens, rushes back and forth, and then seems to be caught in an invisible trap in the above video. Why does this happen? There are two phenomena at work here: the Leidenfrost effect and paramagnetism.
What happens when you pour beer onto a frying pan? It boils and evaporates, right? Not exactly. The beer sort of turns into this goopy blob that looks like some alien amoeba. Look at it go and tell me you're not going to do this the next time you're drunk (don't do this while you're drunk).
When a drop of water hits a hot enough pan, it doesn't instantly boil away. Instead, the drop's outer layer vaporizes, producing an insulating effect that causes it to skitter across the hot surface. This is known as the Leidenfrost effect, and it can be harnessed for some neat tricks, like the Mythbusters being able…
It'd be great if the Australian university's research in this field could also be applied to human bodies, so we could shave a few important seconds from our lap-times just by raising our temperatures.
Back in the 18th century, a German doctor called Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost described how water behaves when it hits a mass considerably hotter than its boiling point. But first, watch the 3000-frames-per-second video and see if you can realize what's happening.
File this under don't try at home, but there is a safe and painless way to dip your hand into liquid nitrogen. The secret? The Leidenfrost effect, which briefly shields your hand from -320° temps with a layer of bubbles.