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Q & A: What happens when you touch nitrogen?

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Most recent answer: 10/20/2009
Q:
What happens when you touch nitrogen?
- Kay (age 12)
New York City
A:
Hi Kay,
I presume you mean liquid nitrogen which is extremely cold.  Ordinary nitrogen at room temperature is a gas that makes up 78% of the air we breath.  If you would touch liquid nitrogen very briefly (I advise that you don't do this) you would certainly feel cold.  If you stuck you finger into a  flask of it for some time the liquid nitrogen would boil furiously and then your finger would freeze solid.  Not a good idea.

LeeH

(published on 10/16/2009)

Follow-Up #1: More on liquid nitrogen

Q:
Hi,It's me again.I would like to know "isn't nitrogen hot when you touch it?"Because I heard that it's burns you when you touch it.
- Kay (age 12)
New York City
A:
No, liquid nitrogen is very very cold, not hot.   The so-called  'burn'  is frost bite not a high temperature burn. The flesh actually freezes. This is not good.

LeeH

(published on 10/20/2009)

Follow-up on this answer.