Watch these two science sadists inject a Stretch Armstrong doll with melted gallium.
The odd Stretch is a magnet for experiments because of its strange nature and corn syrup filler.
Gallium melts below human body temperature and freezes into unusual-looking crystals.
Bonham and Gade start by melting lump of gallium—a soft and extremely shiny metal whose melting point is between room temperature and human body temperature—over very low heat. When you hold it in your hands, as Bonham does in the video, it starts to melt and transfer onto your skin. Thankfully, gallium is also nontoxic, and while in some views it’s a dead ringer for mercury, it’s totally safe to play with.
Stretch Armstrong first came to life in 1976 as an action figure with a stretchy body that’s slow to bounce back. Inside the rubber skin is gelled corn syrup, made by reducing regular corn syrup to reduce moisture. We’d guess the subsequent properties are related to the fact that corn syrup is refined from cornstarch, the main ingredient in oobleck. Where’s our Non-Newtonian Armstrong?
Bonham shares examples of unusual crystal shapes made by cooling gallium, whose squarish natural crystal structure has been used to help stabilize nuclear bombs. He and Gade inject melted gallium using a food syringe as well as a hypodermic needle, then they put Stretch in the freezer. What results is a subdermal, sub-corn syrup, crystal structure where the rapidly cooling gallium has formed unusual shapes.
The corn syrup gel doesn’t appear to have impeded the formation—in fact, it could have acted as a kind of scaffold that shaped and supported, but didn’t restrict the crystals. “We’re about to turn you into Wolverine,” Gade says. When Bonham slices through the gallium-filled leg, there’s indeed a skeletal core of gallium surrounded by a cushioning tissue of corn-syrup gel.
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