Until seeing this video, from YouTuber Cody’sLab, I never realised just how badly I want to try and stand on liquid mercury.
You’re probably most familiar with the 80th element on the periodic table because of your experience with old thermometers but have you ever looked at liquid mercury and thought “I wonder if I can stand on that?”
If you have, Cody’sLab has the answers for you.
Cody pours around 290kgs of the liquid metal into a plastic tub. Liquid mercury is 13 times denser than water, so Cody reasons that he should be able to stand on it.
Notably, liquid mercury is poorly absorbed through the skin (and even if you swallow it your intestine doesn’t absorb it that well), so Cody notes he could have performed the experiment completely barefoot. However, because of an open wound, he decides against it.
Once he steps into the container and balances himself, he is able to float off the bottom in the bath of liquid mercury. He doesn’t quite get to standing on top of it, but does demonstrate that he can stand inside it.
It’s even more interesting to hear Cody talk about the sensations he felt when standing in the tub of quicksilver. He speaks specifically about the pressure of the mercury pressing against his feet and legs from the sides and from the bottom. I want to know that feeling.
He then likens it to standing on a foam mattress. So you could recapitulate the experiment myself substituting out the mercury for foam, but where’s the fun in that?
You can watch the full, excellent video below: