3 Surprising Things Matter Does Under Extreme Pressure


SciShow is supported by Brilliant.org – a
problem-solving website that teaches you how to think like a physicist, statistician, or
mathematician. [♪♩INTRO] Pressure can make us do some pretty weird
things, from forgetting our own names during a big presentation, to giving ridiculous responses
to Family Feud categories. But it doesn’t just make us kick our brains
around the floor; pressure causes all kinds of matter to go through identity crises – like
when a lump of flaky graphite changes into a diamond, the hardest naturally-occurring
substance on Earth. And under extreme pressure, things get even
weirder. Through personal experience or a basic chemistry
class, you’ve probably learned that, on their own, oil and water don’t mix because
the water molecules are way more attracted to each other than to the oil. But it turns out that under the right conditions,
they do mix. One of those conditions is a whole lot of
pressure, which scientists can produce using a device called a Diamond Anvil Cell, or DAC,
which squeezes things between the tips of two flawless diamonds. Depending on the force exerted over that teeny
tiny experiment area, DACs can produce as much pressure as what you’d find at the
Earth’s core! In a study published this year in the journal
Science Advances, researchers used a DAC to combine water and liquid methane, or one carbon
bonded to four hydrogens. In a chemistry sense, liquid methane acts
like the simplest possible oil. And at room temperature, the researchers got
the two liquids to mix when the pressure reached 2 gigapascals, or almost 20,000 times the
air pressure at sea level. The researchers suggested the compounds could
mix because the methane molecules got compressed to the point where they could slip into the
network of bonds connecting all the water molecules, and distribute themselves evenly. There’s methane and water all over the solar
system, including inside planets and moons, where the pressure can be super high. So studying how they react under extreme conditions
in the lab can help us learn more about the chemistry going on in places it’s often
impossible to visit. Oil and water aren’t the only things that
play nice under extreme pressures, though. The noble gases do, too. Normally, atoms react with each other to get
a full outer shell of electrons, because that’s when they’re the most stable. Noble gases are elements that already have
that shell filled, so unless they lose an electron, they don’t need to interact with
anything — and it’s very hard to force them to. Still, compounds with noble gases in them
can be useful, like for removing the electrons from an atom. But unless they’re in an extreme environment,
their existence is usually fleeting. A lot of the time, you need to use really
high pressures to create these compounds — especially the ones that don’t rely on super low temperatures,
or that involve the extra inert elements neon or helium. In a paper published in Nature Chemistry this
year, researchers created a brand-new helium compound called sodium helide, which is one
helium and two sodium atoms. It was formed inside a DAC at 113 gigapascals
– about as much pressure as just outside the Earth’s outer core. The crystal structure of this compound is
especially cool, because the helium and sodium atoms didn’t just link up like in most molecules. Instead, the pressure arranged the helium
and sodium into a kind of 3-D checkerboard pattern, forcing pairs of electrons to separate
and basically hang out on their own in between the helium atoms, almost like a negatively
charged ion without a nucleus. According to computer models, sodium helide
should be stable up to a thousand gigapascals, which is what you’d find deep inside large
gas giants and stars. That doesn’t necessarily mean there are
a bunch of exotic noble gas compounds inside Jupiter or Saturn, but with more research
we might be able to figure out that out. Now, there is one weird thing that scientists
are far more confident exists inside those gas giants: non-metal elements that behave
like metals and conduct electricity. An electric current is just a flow of electrons. And for electrons to start moving, they need
to have the right amount of energy to leave their parent atoms and join what’s basically
a sea of moving electrons. Some elements, like metals, have outer electrons
that come by this energy super easily, so they’re good at conducting an electric charge. The electrons in insulators, on the other
hand, have a tough time getting enough energy to break free and flow. Most nonmetals are insulators. But at high enough pressures, the atoms can
get squeezed into creating that communal sea of electrons, and the insulator becomes conductive. That’s exactly what happens inside Jupiter. If you were to plunge straight down through
Jupiter’s atmosphere, you’d quickly get crushed to death like the Galileo probe before
you. Oops. But if you somehow made it around a third
of the way down, where the pressure is more than 100 gigapascals, you’d find metallic
hydrogen, which continues all the way to the core. Astronomers think this conductive fluid is
what gives Jupiter its super strong magnetic field. The effects of high pressure can also work
in reverse, causing some metals to lose conductivity or become insulators. In those cases, the increased pressure changes
the solid metal’s overall structure, locking the electrons up between atoms so they can’t
flow freely. So, all kinds of strange things can happen
under extreme pressure. And by studying them, we keep finding more
ways the usual rules of chemistry and physics don’t apply. If this episode got you jazzed about science,
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100 thoughts on “3 Surprising Things Matter Does Under Extreme Pressure”

  1. i really like Brilliant but i can't seem to find any Botany tests. is there a website like Brilliant that has any Botany ? i may have just overlooked them too :/ tyvm for all your vids please keep it up. i am hoping i'll have some extra cash to support you guys/gals by the end of summer. that is if i am able to sell some fruits and viggies 😀

  2. Scishow! Question?
    If the metallic hydrogen in the core is making a huge magnetic field, could you get energy from the magnetic field in significant amounts, also could you extract electricity from the core? If so how would you go about?

  3. sounds to me like high pressure is the connection between general relativity and quantum mechanics or one of them anyways

  4. Guage in the ears turd failed to mention that one noble gas reacted at high temp. Why are all these science nerds so stupid?

  5. What a dufus. Hydrogen can attain the qualities of being a metalloid, but is never a metal as he says. Pull out the the ear guages, buttmunch.

  6. Michael, Michael oh sweet Mike. I miss you on scishow. I should have suspected when your highlight was gone. You tricky electron changing wavelengths of light

  7. Can't create anything because to create is bring something from nothing. We humans make. God Almighty creates we are not God there for we can't create.

  8. Wait, how can you be so sure about the existence of metallic hydrogen, since there is no research shown to be true? Last time i checked there was only one research team saying they made it in lab, but couldnt measure it, nor experiment with it. Sorry for my bad english my dudes

  9. Is Jupiter's metallic hydrogen floating in the air? If so, could that be making Jupiter really prone to electrical discharges? Maybe that would prevent lightning from forming because it's discharging all the time?

  10. Could the metallic hydrogen be reason for Jupiter's massive electromagnic field being it doesn't have an iron core?

  11. Once, when I was in the final rounds of a Spelling Bee (I still got 2nd place, mind you) pressure caused me to spell "adequate" as "adickwotte". The average American spells things only a little worse than that, meaning I WAS ALMOST AN AVERAGE AMERICAN! Considering that the IQ's of my fellow Americans are generally somewhere between zero and incalculably low, THAT'S REALLY BAD!

  12. 3 surprising things wasnt really so surprise at all. When u compress molecules and they become conducting…whats so special about it???

  13. How many of these elements or substances can retain their new properties when the pressure is released? Are there many more examples like diamond or is carbon a rare exception?

  14. I've got news for you: you're gonna find LMH in all stellar and gas bodies… it's how the Universe is organizing objects in a plasma charged medium.

  15. This seems to me like some strange form of nuclear fusion, if I understand correctly it seems to be very alike to what processes your describing

  16. "Pressure. Makes you do some weird things, from forgetting your name during a presentation to doing the most hardcore drugs"

  17. So does that mean there can be conductive metallic Hydrogen in Jupiter and then deep in it even denser non conductive Metallic Hydrogen.

  18. I know this is insignificant but the fact that this guy isn't wearing "scientist clothes" is kinda refreshing. So used to seeing Albert Einstein looking people which isn't a problem either

  19. “If this episode got you jazzed about science there is a place you can put that to work”… pornhub
    Er… um brilliant* excuse me.

  20. I can't watch sci show with the other guy anymore. He's too dramatic and makes me feel like a 6 year old. I've been avoiding this channel in my recommended just because of that guy but I checked this one out because it seemed too interesting; thank goodness it was presented by this guy instead 🙂

  21. wrg, pressure matrs not, no such thing as madexx or forget or big presentationx or not, doens't matter, cepu, do, be, can do, be , say any no matter what and any be perfect, no pressure for suchx shtx, anyx

  22. What are the electrical properties of sodium helide molecules. Seems to me it could be very useful if we could get around the pressure issues.

  23. Water leaking into the crank case of an engine/triplex piston pump pressure washers will mix with the oil it turns white.

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