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Copycats try Siberian’s dangerous liquid nitrogen challenge

By Derek Lambie
25 November 2014

Video of scientist doing spectacular -195C ice bucket stunt goes viral on Internet prompting daredevil craze.

It is possible for liquid nitrogen to pass on top of human flesh without freezing, however. This is as a result of something called the Leidenfrost effect. Picture: Dmitry Shilov

video of a Siberian scientist doing an ice bucket challenge with liquid nitrogen has sparked a wave of dangerous copycats after going viral on the Internet. Daredevil Anton Sharypov, 34, became a sensation after filming himself pouring the bitterly cold -195 degree Celsius liquid over his head and body.

His stunt was arguably the most spectacular of the spate of ice bucket challenges to have taken place around the world, and it was assumed it would be a unique one-off.

But instead it has prompted a legion of others following suit, eager for their own ten seconds of fame, with Twitter hashtags featuring the words #azotbaketchellendzh (#nitrogenbucketchallenge).

More videos have appeared online including that of another Siberian, 28-year-old thermal engineer Mikhail Demidov. Shown standing outdoors in a dark and snowy street in Novosibirsk, he strips down to his underwear before taking a bucket of the substance and tipping it over his head.

Mr Demidov, who runs a science business, said he wanted to do it to emulate the original daredevil and show that all Siberians are just as tough. He tells the camera: 'Look, we Siberians, we can do it. No burns, everything is fine.'

Mikhail Demidov takes challenge with nitrogen


Mikhail Demidov takes challenge with nitrogen


Mikhail Demidov takes challenge with nitrogen

28-year-old thermal engineer Mikhail Demidov taking a bucket of liquid nitrogen and tipping it over his head. Pictures: Mikhail Demidov

Liquid nitrogen is nitrogen in a liquid state at an extremely low temperature, but upon contact with a solid – such as living tissue – it will freeze almost immediately. Commonly handled in science laboratories, it is also used by the medical profession to treat and kill warts because it can burn skin.

But it can be dangerous and in 1999 a lab assistant in Scotland died from asphyxiation caused by a spillage of liquid nitrogen in a store room. Then, two years ago, a young woman in England had her stomach removed after taking a cocktail made with the substance.

It is possible for liquid nitrogen to pass on top of human flesh without freezing, however.

This is as a result of something called the Leidenfrost effect in which a liquid produces a layer of insulating vapours that prevents it coming into direct contact with a surface significantly hotter than its -196 degree Celsius boiling point. It means that when it comes into contact with warm human skin, it simply skims off the surface.

But, if a human hand was placed into liquid nitrogen and it cooled down below the Leidenfrost point, it would burn and freeze instantly.

Anton Sharypov


Anton Sharypov taking liquid nitrogen shower


Anton Sharypov taking liquid nitrogen shower


Anton Sharypov is not frozen

Anton Sharypov, 34, became a sensation after filming himself pouring the bitterly cold -195 degree Celsius liquid over his head and body. Pictures: Dmitry Shilov

In his video Mr Sharypov, a 34-year-old physicist from Krasnoyarsk, shows how the liquid nitrogen freezes leaves from a nearby tree before he pours it onto himself.

Uploaded to the YouTube channel of Dmitry Shilov, as part of a project called 'What happens if we try this?', he tells viewers beforehand: 'I am putting my faith in the laws of physics, biology and mathematics and I hope nothing will go wrong.'

Just to make sure he is not frozen solid after taking the liquid shower, his friend pokes him to check he is still soft as the intrepid scientist laughs into the camera.

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