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Thread: Question about liquid passing through solid at low temp

  1. #1 Question about liquid passing through solid at low temp 
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    Hello. I was recently told by a friend that he had seen a documentary in which the following happened: A liquid was placed inside a solid container. The container was then subjected to extreme low temperature. The liquid then passed through the bottom of the solid container - the explanation given being that the molecular vibration had reduced to such a degree that the molecules simply slipped past one another and thus the liquid was able to pass through the solid.
    Is this at all possible? I expressed doubt when he recounted this, but I am only an interested amateur when it comes to science, and I'm not properly equipped to dismiss or validate this idea.
    Can anyone help? Was my friend confused, had he dreamt it, or is this indeed possible?


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  3. #2 Re: Question about liquid passing through solid at low temp 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riccy987
    Hello. I was recently told by a friend that he had seen a documentary in which the following happened: A liquid was placed inside a solid container. The container was then subjected to extreme low temperature. The liquid then passed through the bottom of the solid container - the explanation given being that the molecular vibration had reduced to such a degree that the molecules simply slipped past one another and thus the liquid was able to pass through the solid.
    Is this at all possible? I expressed doubt when he recounted this, but I am only an interested amateur when it comes to science, and I'm not properly equipped to dismiss or validate this idea.
    Can anyone help? Was my friend confused, had he dreamt it, or is this indeed possible?
    This sounds like the behavior of helium as a superfluid. The explanation that you were given is not correct. Superfluids have zero viscosity and the bottom of the beaker was slightly porous so the liquid leaked out, aided by capillary action.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z6UJbwxBZI

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superfluid


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  4. #3  
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    Thanks for the links.
    But don't they imply that the superfluid escaped from the container by creeping up the sides and over the rim, rather than any actual passing through the solid container?
    I suspect that this was what my friend saw - the clip seems to imply that the liquid passes through the solid before going on to explain that this is not actually the case. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)
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  5. #4  
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    No, sorry, I'm wrong. There are two separate phenomena in the clip. The superfluid does indeed pass through the porous beaker.
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  6. #5  
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    That does happen. It has zero viscosity, as was stated, so it has no problem slipping through the smallest of holes, including microscopic holes in ceramic materials. It has something to do with the transistion of the atoms from fermions to bosons, I think. Something like that...
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