Nuclear Chain Reaction Demonstrated With Mouse Traps and Ping Pong Balls (Video)

mousetrap chain reaction image

Image via YouTube video screengrab

With all eyes on the news from Japan, it's easy to get frightened or confused about what exactly is happening. Luckily, TreeHugger Mike has been keeping us updated on a daily basis on everything we need to know. But sometimes it's interesting to get right down to the basics, to the things we can't remember from high school physics classes. And that includes how a nuclear chain reaction actually works. Gizmodo points us to an awesome video demonstrating just such an event, using ping pong balls and mousetraps. Click through to watch the video.

Gizmodo writes, "Chemistry students at Horizon Science Academy in Cleveland had to illustrate a nuclear chain reaction and came up with this video. I wish nuclear chain reactions were always this fun. First they tried green and yellow Skittles first--which is exactly what uranium-235 looks like when you get really close--but it wasn't good enough. That's why they got 300 mousetraps and 600 ping pong balls. They say they are going to make a bigger one soon. Let's hope they use a slow motion camera and better illumination for that one."

This video would be pretty hilarious to watch in 3D, I must admit. But you can imagine the conditions inside a reactor just watching these "molecules" zip around. Pretty amazing.

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