The Spangler Effect - Glacier Gak Season 01 Episode 19

Uploaded by TheSpanglerEffect on 20.06.2012


STEVE SPANGLER: Well, this might look like just a giant
pile of silly putty.
It's not.
It's actually homemade gak using glue and water and a
little bit of Borax.
Believe it or not, this gak--
gooey material--
can be used to learn something about the science of glaciers.
I'm Steve Spangler, and I'm all about making science fun.
For the last 20 years, I've been teaching ways to turn
ordinary science experiments into unforgettable
I have an amazing team who will do whatever it takes to
affect the way people think about science.
And to do that, I live by one motto--
make it big, do it right, give it class.

So how do you make the stuff?
It's very, very simple, but there's a change the normal
recipe that you may have found online.
And so these are the materials you're going to need-- a
little bit of glue--
OK, a lot of glue--
some water, and some Mule Team Borax.
A box of this will last you a life, but this is the secret
to making all the slimes and gaks and ooze and all those
other things.
It's the cross linker.
We'll talk about the chemistry here in just a second.
First, the glue.
I would suggest using Elmer's Glue.
Don't use school glue or anything else.
Elmer's Glue is actually polyvinyl acetate, and
polyvinyl acetate has the same behavior as polyvinyl alcohol,
which is the main ingredient for slime.
So that's why it works so well.
You think of this-- it's just like spaghetti.
You cook spaghetti, and in the pot, those
noodles move around.
The pasta moves back and forth.
Even when you drain the water, it still slips and slides all
over each other.
That's exactly what glue is like.
Once glue dehydrates, though, and all the water's gone,
those molecules now stick into place wherever they were.
And so that's how glue works.
What we want to do is to keep all the moisture.
In fact, we want to add some moisture and hook the
molecules together at the same time.

All right, I'm adding water.
It's hard to tell you exactly how much.
You just want this really, really soupy mess in here.
And there's no substitute to getting your fingers in there
and feeling it.
It is going to feel very, very runny.
And you know that that's the perfect consistency.
It's still thick and viscous, but not nearly
as thick as it was.
This is pretty good.
There's no going back and adding more water later on, so
you're going to want to experiment with a small batch
before you make a large one to know exactly
how it should feel.
Technically speaking, Borax is sodium tetraborate.
It's the perfect cross linker that we need to hook those
molecules together.
It's very simple to make a solution with water.
You just need to make a saturated solution.
So a saturated solution is a solution when you stir it up
and let it sit for a second that there's still a small
amount remaining on the very bottom.
It's when that last teaspoon doesn't dissolve.
That's a saturated solution.
That's a perfect Borax solution to hook
our molecules together.
It's when I pour in the Borax solution like this that you
start to see the stringiness.
Again, there's no substitute for getting in there and
really mixing it around.
You may have to make up some more Borax solution.
Again, it's totally by feel.
Every batch is a little bit different.
While you can use a standard recipe, it's best to just use
your hand and make it by touch.
I can tell that it's starting to work out, but we need
definitely a little bit more water, a little bit more Borax
to hook this last little piece together.
We want this gooey, slimy consistency, but we don't want
to sticking to the sides.
This is just about the perfect consistency.
This is what you want, for one piece of it, anyway.
So you can see the movement of this, because it
is this great material.
Make the same batch again, but this time add some food
coloring to it.
I like to make it blue.
This is a non-Newtonian fluid, meaning that it doesn't obey
the laws that Newton--
Isaac Newton-- set out to describe--
something that goes from a liquid to a solid or from a
solid to a liquid.
You can see that this flowing liquid here actually has
solid-like properties when you add pressure to it.
See how it breaks off?
It literally shears off an edge, very similar to what a
glacier does when that pressure is there.
You have literally a liquid--
the constant movement shearing off into a solid.
Yet if you allow it to work its way back together again,
it becomes and flows just like a liquid.
It's perfect to explain the properties of a glacier.
Now you can see why we want a different color.
Blue and the white is perfect, because now
we can see the movement.
If you were actually in Alaska and you could see the ice, you
would see blue ice.
It's just this water that has this tremendous amount of
pressure on it.
And as those molecules get packed together, it's
literally more dense than regular water, and the light
refracts through there differently than it normally
would through just regular water that we would normally
see in a glass.
So let me fold this in.
Ah, this is great.

And now, as we break this-- the shear factor-- you start
to see these layers that are inside that look fantastic.
Let's allow it to flow like a real glacier.
Notice how it's already starting to flow.
The weight of this is now causing it to move down.
And it moves ever so slowly.
That's why this is so good when we're teaching
kids about a glacier.
You can actually talk about the glacier receding or the
glacier advancing.
And in this particular case, you can see how the weight of
the gak here is pushing this part of it down.
Take a look here along the edge.
If you were in Alaska, the naturalists would tell you
that that shoreline, over the years, actually was picked up
by the glacier.
And you get this glacial silt that's moving its way in.
And you can see it actually come into the glacier.
Well, as cool as this is, nothing compares to standing
in front of a glacier and actually seeing a piece of the
ice calve off and to hear that crunching sound of the ice.
Well, we created an experience called Science at Sea.
We partnered with our friends at Holland America, and the
whole goal was to take a hundred science enthusiasts--
people like you-- on a week long expedition and to go
places that other normal people couldn't go with some
of the best naturalists in the world.
Well, that's what we did with Science at Sea in Glacier Bay.
Take a look at this.
FEMALE SPEAKER: We saw a breaching humpback whale right
out there, that shore.
JOHN SCHEERENS: We're looking at one of the most exciting
things here in Glacier Bay National Park, which is a
humpback whale breaching completely out of the water--
a 40 ton animal throwing most of its body is completely out
of the water.
We've had a group of probably 35 to 50 people up here all
morning since 8:30-- it's now about 11:30--
in the rain watching whales.
It's been a pretty exciting morning out here on our way
into Glacier Bay.
We're just getting started.