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See liquid oxygen form a boiling bridge between two magnets

Another day, another cool-looking chemistry experiment. This time around, the chemists involved are using a little-known property of oxygen to build an oxygen bridge between two magnets.


If you are stuck in a room full of people and the oxygen is running out, what should you do? Well, if there are any magnets around, try hanging out near them. As it turns out, oxygen is attracted to magnets. The reason we're not smothering as all the oxygen huddles around a lodestone is oxygen is only noticeably affected by magnets when it is in one particular form.

As you can see in this video, the cool-as-hell boiling liquid oxygen hovers in mid-air, connected one piece of metal to another as soon as the electromagnets are turned on. Oxygen in paramagnetic, meaning it becomes magnetized in a magnetic field. It's also quite a hungry atom, with lots of outer electron shells to fill. When it's in gas form, it tends to travel in twin-oxygen pairs, but each member of those pairs still has an unpaired electron. These kinds of molecules, become magnetic when exposed to magnets. Oxygen gas moves too quickly to be much affected, but liquid gets caught. The oxygen hovers and condenses around the magnet, keeping itself together longer than if it falls freely and boils away into gas. Turn the magnet off, and the bridge drops. You shall not pass.


[Via Tales From the Prep Room, Magnetic Liquid Oxygen.]

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Interesting. Just curious. Barring the obvious implications the temperature would have on us, could we breathe liquid oxygen, or would we drown?