Popular Science is pleased to present videos created by ChefSteps, the free-to-learn culinary school started by alumni of the creative team behind Modernist Cuisine. These original videos explore the art and science of cooking, as well as provide a glimpse into unseen or unnoticed phenomena that occur in our kitchens.
The team at ChefSteps, a brand new online cooking school, created this remarkable video (the first in a series) for our edification. In it, a pool of liquid nitrogen placed in a vacuum chamber gets its pressure lowered so that its boiling point drops rapidly. The nitrogen comes to a vigorous boil, which in turn causes the liquid to cool off further due to surface evaporation. It drops below its freezing point, in fact, and becomes pure -346°F nitrogen ice.
Then, as if that wasn’t dramatic enough, the nitrogen atoms forcibly rearrange their lattice in a chain reaction that’s caught on super-slow-motion video, casting off flakes of nitrogen snow.
The voiceover is by ChefSteps founder Chris Young, whom you may recall as one of the three brilliant authors of Modernist Cuisine.
But is there a practical use for this solid nitrogen that we can only force into existence under a kitchen vacuum? Your suggestions are welcome via tweets that mention @PopSci with the hashtag #nitrogensnow.