This experiment came from researching an experiment on cooked vegetables. As I was boiling each vegetable sample, I had quite a bit of time to watch the water boil. If you have ever watched a pot of water boil, did you notice all the strange things the bubbles did? No? Then it is time to go back to the stove and boil some water.
This week's experiment came to me from my good friend Bob Cox. He told me about the trick and wanted to know why it worked. It took some thought and testing to come up with a theory of what is happening and then several e-mails to experts to confirm that I was on the right track.
Imagine that you are given a glass of water with a couple of ice cubes floating in it. You are given a string and told to pick up the ice cube with the string, without touching the glass, the ice, or the water with your fingers. Could you do it? Of course you could, if you knew the science.
Hydrothermal veins are a combination of the two ways that crystals form. Magma contains water as well as molten rock. Because it is underground, and under tremendous pressure, the water stays a liquid. At very high temperatures and pressure, that water can dissolve quite a few minerals. As the magma cools, the last part that is still a liquid is the quartz and the high temperature/high pressure water. They flow into cracks in the surrounding rocks, where they cool. The quartz starts to solidify quickly, but the hot water keeps some of it dissolved.