Molecule of the Day

Mercury Beating Heart

Oscillating reactions are neat; I should write up one of my favorites sometime… Here, electrons flow from iron metal to mercury (I) sulfate to chromium (VI) oxide. Listen to the video for a step-by step explanation…


  1. #1 selenized
    April 20, 2008

    That is very cool. I especially like how it depends upon the changing surface tension of mercury.

  2. #2 Gray Gaffer
    April 21, 2008

    Ah, memories! We did this experiment in public high school in the UK, 1963 or there-abouts. All of us, ourselves, not just watching the teacher do it. We used a lot more mercury, and got a correspondingly slower beat. Our teacher believed in what he called “bucket chemistry” – or “we doan need no stinkin 5 ml test-tubes!”.

    And then I have not heard of it again until this year, and suddenly many references.

  3. #3 azmanam
    April 21, 2008

    This one’s probably my favorite, and the neatest demonstration of it that I’ve seen.

  4. #4 Nanono
    June 5, 2008

    I have a book from 1932 “Experiments for Boys” where this is experiment is described as something boys could do at home. Quite a lot of good stuff with mercury in that book. It was better in the old days, before everything turned so dangerous.

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