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carsandwater

WATCH: Hockey Puck Survives a Red-Hot Nickel Ball

6 JUNE 2015

If you're a regular YouTube lurker, you've probably seen your fair share of red-hot nickel balls destroying pretty much everything in their path over at YouTube channel carsandwater. From classic toy Gak to Jaw Breakers, nothing seems to be able to survive having a hot sphere of nickel sat on it. But, surprisingly, it seems the ball has finally met its match in a simple hockey puck.

 

As you can see in the carsandwater video above, the ball initially looks like it's winning, by vibrating and causing a flaming ring where the two surfaces meet. But eventually the nickel ball cools and, lo and behold, the puck is pretty much perfectly in tact other than a little light scorching.

So where's the science here? Hockey pucks such as this one are made from vulcanised rubber, which is essentially rubber that has been strengthened by the addition of a curing ingredient, usually sulphur. Vulcanisation was discovered by Charles Goodyear in 1844 and is now commonly used in tyres and shoe soles.

What's really cool about vulcanised rubber is that when it's under a lot of pressure or exposed to high temperatures - like those from, say, a red-hot nickel ball - the sulphur atoms form links between the long chains of rubber molecules. This makes the rubber less sticky and also increases its strength and durability.

These properties seem to make it the one material on the Internet (so far) that's been able to stand up against the red-hot nickel ball. So the big question now is, what do we test it on next?