It takes a lot to make a diamond burn — but it can be done. Watch these people prank a Nobel Prize winner, while demonstrating that diamonds are made of carbon and can burn like carbon.
You can’t get a diamond to burn under normal conditions, but scientists aren’t limited to normal conditions. And what’s less normal than burning a Nobel laureate’s engagement ring? As you can see, it’s possible to get a diamond to burn by surrounding it with pure oxygen.
I’ve seen this kind of demonstration, but these guys add a nice twist. The “exhaust” tube from the burning chamber leads to a jar of lime water. Lime is calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2, and when the carbon dioxide from the burning diamond gets forced into the water, the two combine to form calcium carbonate.
Calcium carbonate is what makes up egg shells and pearls. It’s also used as an antacid, so what they’re making is a very costly way to settle your stomach. And Harry Kroto is a very good sport.
[Source: The Royal Institution]