The Magic of Chemistry – with Andrew Szydlo


Yes when I was 10 years old I used to live in Shepherd’s Bush in West London not that far from here And every Saturday afternoon I used to go to Shepherd’s Bush market You see I was very keen to see what people were selling. What they were buying. But most importantly, what they were throwing away. Because very frequently among the rubbish I could find something useful For instance wooden boxes, from which I could make a cricket bat But, every Saturday afternoon There was a very strange man He was completely bold and he was selling medicines He was selling medicines in the form of purple tablets Like this, and he told everyone That these tablets were very good for you Because they could cure you of any disease Whether you had a headache, tooth ache, muscle pain, neuralgia nostalgia, you name it, this medicine would cure it. So people were very fascinated to actually be able to buy this medicine This was made about three hundred year ago. They rapidly realised that there are 2 main gases in the air, one of them which actually responsible for burning and that was called Oxygen. The other one they called Nitrogen.And they recognised that about one fifth of the air is Oxygen And then they started to do experiment to make fuels burn better, not by mixing with air but trying to mix them with Oxygen or get them to combine with Oxygen and I wanted to show you the result of one such experiment which was a remarkable triumph of the science of Chemistry and it’s occurred using the most mundane of substances you could possibly imagined and that is cotton wool. Cotton wool is a natural fibre. It has been known to human being for over five thousand year and we know that cotton was first grown and used on a large scale in India and also in Mexico . But it is in India where the great culture of cotton culture of cotton fabric, cotton weaving grew for thousand of years well before it reach Europe. Now cotton, what is cotton chemically speaking? Well, it is a very delicate fabric , it is used in clothing of course as you know and for cosmetic application. and chemically speaking it’s called cellulose . it’s a natural polymer which occurs and which is very very comfortable to the touch and warm to the feel. and that is why it has a great place in our human history. Not to mention the fact that the cotton played a huge role in the industrial revolution in this country during the 18 century when cotton weaving and spinning were developed in the . Now, if you watch carefully who on earth would think of burning. Well Chemist thought of burning everything and this is one of the things.They burnt cotton you see, they thought it may be wonderful. there it is , it is burning in air, a hugely boring experiment you see it is burning in air, because air contain only about 20 percent Oxygen you see and so this is what we have incomplete combustion it is burning with this sort of slightly yellowy flame and there is tiny bit of ash left and
entirely unspectacular almost like a piece of paper. Now What I wanted to to tell you next during the 19 century, during the middle of the 19 century, Chemists were experimenting with adding Oxygen to different fuels either mixing it or combining them chemically and the remarkable result was achieved by 2 scientists working independently with cotton, one of them was Ascanio Sobrero who was an Italian. The other one was Christian Schönbein , who was a German organic chemist. Christian Schönbein was a good friend and colleague of the great Michael Faraday who delivered teacher’s lectures in this precise spot here for over 30 years during the 19 century. So it was Christian Schönbein
who actually was the first person who manage to add to cotton with some extra Oxygen. Now how did he achieve that? And also, I told you in the beginning that we can frequently recognise a chemical change by a change of colour and yet you say look this cotton wool that I have got here, look the same and feels exactly the same as the cotton wool that I had a minute ago. And yet this has got the extra Oxygen as I will show you in a second. How therefore is this different? Dear children, the difference could be seen by weighing it. You see, if you weigh one of those. They weigh 1.7g but this weigh 2.8g. An extra of 1.1g of Oxygen. Now that is huge amount of extra Oxygen added in. It actually does have some Nitrogen as well. You may say how did they add this? Well let’s first of all see whether it works of course because there is no point in talking about the effect if we don’t see how it was done if it doesn’t work. So first of all, let’s get ourselves something to talk about. So here then is our cotton wool which has had extra Oxygen added to it. And let”s see how this burns and spot the difference. And as you see, there was an instantaneous combustion.The whole things burn very,very very quickly indeed and there was virtually nothing left at all you see. Now that of course, now that of course , dear children is the proof that the experiment was successful. Now when Schönbein achieve this experiment, he was absolutely delighted. And as I said Sobrero, they were working separately, one of them with cotton, the other with glycerin and they were similar substances and they achieve this type of result. They thought this was absolutely amazing. For your information, the way this was made is using a very similar substance to what’s used in gun powder. Gun powder contains sulphur, charcoal. and potassium nitrate, nitrates. This uses nitric acid and sulphuric acid. You mix them together and you soak the cotton wool for half an hour. And you end up with this. So the Oxygen comes about indirectly. But then chemist are people who understood this processes and that’s why they are able to bring about the effect. Now, what about I have actually made here is a high explosive. It is of course a very very dangerous substance. It is popular. Its name in the industry is called a gun cotton, nitro cellulose. It is hugely dangerous. It is used in engineering and military purposes. And I would like to demonstrate an explosion for you. Unfortunately, that would be far too dangerous. So what I am going to do instead, I am going to demonstrate a propulsion and even 2 propulsions if we’re lucky. And what is a propulsion? A propulsion is a directed explosion. A explosion is a rapidly release of gases everywhere, forcing something apart. A propulsion though is when you direct them in one direction. So I’m going to start off by showing you how to use this to make a simple mortar. It’s rather similar to a canon. And I’m going to propel some ping pong ball, hopefully to the ceiling of our dear Royal Institution Now what I have here is a special, It’s a like canon. It’s technically called the mortar and principle of it is that you burn the fuel at the bottom when the fuel which will be gun cotton burnt at the bottom. It releases a huge amount of hot gases and they will force the ping pong ball to fly, hopefully to the ceiling So that is the principle of this and what I wanted to tell you dear children is every time you watch one of those fireworks displays where there are massive shells exploding in the sky and colours. They are all projected from these. Only they are made of thick cardboard and their shelves go up and they explode in the air. Today, we are not going to explode the shelves up there. We’re simply going to fire ping pong balls. Now

100 thoughts on “The Magic of Chemistry – with Andrew Szydlo

  1. Hello friends
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  2. I would always heat sodium and bromine in oxygen as a kid when in primary school science. My less intelligent friend would always yell at me NaBrO!! I think he was scared of my chemistry. But he didn't understand what I was doing.

  3. Great lecture, but please, never let the intern mic the talkers again. Dear children it doesnt go over the head.

  4. when Andrew Szydlo dies, they will dry out his body, grind it into powder and mix with oxidant powder and then set on fire. So he will be cremated with a complete combustion. The whole city will hear it.

  5. you can see how much he love and appreciate chemistry. that's the kind of scientist that i want to learn from

  6. science is boring BUT when you do experiments that's when science shows it's true potential in our normal schools we would just complete a book with a year! no experiments no lab no telescope it was the most boring subject in the whole school! but when I did a special exam to join a school and I passed and skipped a grade (5 to 7) that school had a lab that lab was AMAZING we did many experiments I did a mistake and a kaboom I burnt my face and wasn't able to go to school (happiest days in my life) for 2 weeks. yes. you heard it. 2 WEEKS

  7. I feel the need to clip this down to him saying "And then, I shall light it on fi-ah." I'll play it every time I end a sentence with a noun.

  8. What would be the theoretical value for the activation energy of the reaction between sodium sulfite, potassium iodate and sulfuric acid?

  9. Does anyone knows which chemical or composition is change the color during playing that violin at 11:40 ?

  10. Acts 4 (KJV) – ግብሪ ሃዋ
    12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.John 3 (KJV) – ዮሃንስ
    16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    17: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    19: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.John 14 (KJV) – ዮሃንስ
    6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
    7: If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.Romans 10 (KJV) – ሮሜ
    8: But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
    9: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    10: For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

  11. Man I wish that I had been exposed to such enthusiastic lecturers as a kid, I'd have been a rocket scientist by now! I wonder how many kids in the audience have been energized to go and do some research as a result of watching the lecture, and what will they do as a result of a few minutes teaching with passion. Teachers take note, the future is in your hands, make it interesting and they will follow. Thanks for the posting. Kind Regards to all . . .  Andy

  12. Very interesting presentation … excellent .. i wish all my boring classes had fantastic presenters like this.

  13. Why doesn't he like to receive applause!? He has talent to speak Chemistry with easy language and with passion! Congratulations to Andrew!

  14. SO! More carbon dioxide gas in the air means more and better plants, sure we might be a tiny weeny little bit warmer but that fair!

  15. What an extraordinary amazing creature contrary to the huge army of so called "teachers" spread around the globe as ants eating up the brains of unfortunate children turning them into machines! And for those who disliked this video they must be either teachers or idiots taught by such teachers😊

  16. How do you give "science" the credit of invention, when the person is the one performing something scientifically?
    There is NO institution of "science" Science is a methodology, a process, and you are fabricating a institution out of this and crediting it. You are basically helping science become something other, and bigger than it is.
    Robort Bunsen invented the burner from trial and error and having a inquisitive mind and applying the scientific method. It is NOT an invention from the science of chemistry. There is no "science of chemsitry". You are misrepresenting facts to credit a "department" or "faculty" which doesn't exist, except for the ones who claim it to exist.
    Otherwise, a great demonstration and video, I loved it…Just wrong in the premise it is presented.
    You really need to stop idolizing something that doesn't exist! You are the scientist. You do the science, science never existed. Everything existed, and what we do is observe, measure, quantify and repeat. That is the science. This is falls under the title we have given it called chemistry. Science wasn't here before us. Get it straight.

    Scientists APPLY the scientific method. I have had 4 chemisty professors, and each one of them would laugh at your idolization to the "science vapor" your creating.

    The Royal Institution should be held accountable for having such misrepresentation of facts.

  17. He keeps telling us what he wanted to tell us; why doesn't he just tell us what he wanted to tell us?*suspense much*

  18. How paradoxal the world is.
    Few decades ago it wasn't this much interesting and practical to learn chemistry, nevertheless we were very enthusiastic to learn chemistry.
    Nowadays very well explained and practical to learn it but kids don't care.

  19. I wish I had a Chemistry teacher as Mr. Andrew Szydlo in school, my passion for chemistry would surely have been ignited as now. All we were taught is that chemistry is a boring and dull subject. The world sure lost a probable chemist…

  20. I rarely comment on YouTube videos. Yet here I am multiple rewrites in, Struggling to find a way to to say how amazing this man is for Science and Education. Simply put a treasure.

  21. this guy spoke continuously for 1 hour and 30 minutes, such energy. he is double my age and i don't have half his energy.

  22. This is Beavis in an alternate reality. He must consume nitrogen-infused tea at regular intervals to subdue the demon Cornholio. Still can't kick the fire thing, though.

  23. I feel like the notoriously high turnover on the position of defence against the dark arts took another victim and he decided to switch to muggle science.

  24. I'm sorry to be so nit-picky BUT… The fact that wankel engines exist denies the affirmation that every single car in the world has cylinders and pistons in it.

  25. Andrew Szydlo: every motor car has a cylinder and a piston.

    Car guys: ever heard of a rotary? Cant see those having pistons and cylinders…….

    Side note. Could also have explained that a car works on compression to mix things up. Hence why the rotary works

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