Stephen Fry to demonstrate student project on QI

A metal maze that was built by physics students to show how water droplets can propel themselves will feature on BBC 2’s QI this week when host Stephen Fry demonstrates the ‘Leidenfrost effect’.

Stephen will show panellists Aisling Bea, Jason Manford, Jonny Vegas and Alan Davies how water ricochets around the heated aluminium maze when the surface is heated significantly above the liquid’s boiling point, in the episode to be broadcast on Friday 10 October at 10pm (repeated on Sunday 12 October at 10.30pm.)

Stephen Fry demonstrates the Leidenfrost Maze

A YouTube video of the Leidenfrost maze, created by then undergraduates Carmen Cheng and Matthew Guy, will play in the background. The video became a global internet sensation when it went live in September 2013, racking up hundreds of thousands of hits from all round the world.

The water droplets film mesmerised the public and journalists alike and can now be seen on numerous news websites, across social media and have even been recreated on a ‘prime time’ Spanish television show El Hormigero. On the back of the video’s success, the researchers’ maze has also been filmed for New York's Science Friday, the BBC and Reuters.

Dr Kei Takashina, from the Department of Physics, who co-supervised the research project with Dr Alessandro Narduzzo, said: “It's great to have our Leidenfrost Maze appear on QI and wonderful that our undergraduate students' creativity is being celebrated in this way. It’s so rewarding to bring science to such a diverse audience and I hope that viewers will find the water droplets as spectacular as other audiences locally and around the world."

“We released the film as a small extension to an outreach project with local schools and the reactions we have had were completely unexpected. It’s been very exciting for everyone involved.

The maze was created for outreach activities in the Bath area and was shown to young people of all ages, from students considering university to pre-school children. Children, teachers and parents alike were captivated by the maze and their reaction inspired the students to create a film of the maze to share the phenomenon with a wider audience.

To watch the Leidenfrost Maze on YouTube see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0lMJcAfzU4

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