The next time you are sitting around the campfire cooking up a batch of s'mores, be sure to point out to your friends that a marshmallow is simply a colloidal suspension of air in a solid. Because the air in the marshmallow is in equilibrium with the atmosphere, the volume of the marshmallow is stable at standard air pressure. However, it's a different story if we disturb the equilibrium conditions by taking away the atmospheric pressure.
- bell jar
- vacuum pump
- Place a marshmallow on the base of the bell jar.
- Assemble the bell jar and apply a vacuum.
- Observe what happens.
The marshmallow grows in volume, as you can see in Figure 41-1.
The pressure of the air trapped in each marshmallow causes the marshmallow to expand when the pressure outside the marshmallow is reduced.
Try this with shaving cream. It will increase in volume.
Try this with hot water, just under the boiling point. The water should begin to boil again.
Common objects depend on air pressure for them to maintain their physical shape and appearance.
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From 125 Physics Project for the Evil Genius. Copyright © 2009 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved.
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