CU Wizards Gets 'Too Hot To Handle' On Sept. 17

Published: Sept. 11, 2005

A self-lighting candle and "elephant snot" are among the demonstrations that will illustrate concepts of heat and thermodynamics at the Sept. 17 CU Wizards show "Too Hot to Handle."

University of Colorado at Boulder faculty member Janet deGrazia of the department of chemical and biological engineering will lead the presentation starting at 9:30 a.m. in Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry Building room 140. The show is free and open to the public.

"What do you think would happen if you filled a balloon with hydrogen instead of helium and set it on fire?" deGrazia asked. "If you decomposed sugar, what would you end up with? What happens if magnesium is placed on dry ice? The answer to all of these questions can be found in 'Too Hot to Handle.' "

Experiments will include redox reactions, which involve the exchange of electrons, and often cause heat and even fire. Exothermic reactions, which give off heat, and endothermic reactions, which take in heat, will be demonstrated. The audience also will get to experience the thermite reaction, which gives off so much energy that it has to be done behind a protective barrier.

DeGrazia's show is the first of the 29th season of CU Wizards, a series that runs monthly from September to June and features presentations on astronomy, chemistry and physics. Though intended primarily for students in grades five through nine, the shows are educational and entertaining to people of any age.

Free parking for CU Wizards shows is available in campus lots 169, 308, 396 and 436. A nominal fee is charged for parking at the Euclid Avenue Autopark.

Anyone with a disability or special need should notify the physics office at (303) 492-6952 a few days prior to the show. For information about CU Wizards call (303) 492-5011 or visit the Web site at