In this video, Dianna from Physics Girl demonstrates a feat no one should try at home: dipping her hand into boiling oil. To stay safe, she’s relying on the Leidenfrost effect, the tendency of liquids exposed to temperatures well above their boiling point to vaporize and create a layer of gas that insulates against further heat transfer.
We’ve seen a lot of cool behaviors from Leidenfrost droplets, like surfing on herringbone surfaces, digging through sand, vibrating like a star, and, well, violently exploding. We know a lot about what can happen in this Leidenfrost state, but there are also some major unknowns, like exactly what the Leidenfrost temperature is for many liquids. That’s part of what makes Dianna’s demo so dangerous; the temperature needed to see the Leidenfrost effect — even just for water — varies wildly depending on the experimental set-up. (Video and image credit: Physics Girl)