With St. Patrick's Day step dancing toward us, you might find yourself in a local pub in the next week or so. Once the conversation about green beer and the annual appearance of Shamrock Shakes has tapered off, why not use the lull to find a little gold?
You Will Need:
- Tall glass
- Water or juice
- Cork or lime wedge
This bet will require a few supplies. Ask the waiter for a tall glass, a dinner plate and some water. You should also be prepared with matches, a small coin and part of a wine cork. You can substitute a wedge of lemon or lime in a pinch for the last item.
When the water arrives, place the coin on the plate and cover it with a small amount of liquid. Now turn to your companions and make a wager: Whoever can figure out how to pick up the coin with their fingers without touching the water or moving the plate wins.
Even if your tablemates are still in full possession of their faculties, they will likely have trouble solving the puzzle. That's when you pull out a few matches and push the ends into the cork. Float the cork on the surface of the water and light the matches. Now place the empty glass over the flames. The fire will go out and the water will be sucked into the glass, freeing the coin.
You can collect your winnings now, or offer folks a chance to recoup their loss if they can explain what just happened. Of course, you already know.
The trick works because of how molecules behave when affected by temperature. Regular readers of this column will remember that when things are cooler, the molecules are packed more tightly together. As things heat up, the molecules get farther apart. So what's going on in that glass?
The lit matches heat the air inside the glass, causing the air to expand. The increase in temperature causes an increase in pressure. Once the matches go out, the air cools rapidly and the molecules move closer together. This causes a decrease in pressure in the glass. Since the pressure outside the glass is now greater, the liquid is pushed inside. Eventually the pressure inside the glass equalizes with the pressure outside the glass and the liquid stays put.
Before the effects of any emerald ale take hold, pay attention to the following warning: You're dealing with fire, so make sure the liquid you choose for the plate is non-alcoholic. Liquid courage not only fuels bad decisions, it also serves as an actual fuel source when met with an open flame. While a great ball of fire might impress those sitting across the bar, those in close proximity might demand your winnings as compensation for the loss of their eyebrows.
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