The SPS liquid nitrogen ice cream party on September 26 was held in the grand spirit of experimentation. Lacking measuring tools, the ingredients were added somewhat at random. Instead of vanilla extract, two bottles of almond extract had been mistakenly purchased, but we were saved by the discovery of some vanilla extract - date of expiration unknown - in a cabinet in the SPS lounge. It was perhaps the richest ice cream some had ever tasted. The recipe called for several cartons of halfand-half and whipping cream (no milk) and lots of sugar.
Dr. Lee provided an ample supply of liquid nitrogen (77 K) from his lab. It's hard to resist playing with liquid nitrogen for students and professors alike. As Dr. Lee handed us the dewars full of N2, he decided to give a little demonstration. After drinking from a cup, he blew grey clouds of nitrogen out of his mouth. However, he drew the line when I asked him to blow some out of his nose. As we carted away the dewars, he warned us, "If you do this too much, you'll kill all your taste buds."
In the lounge, the sight of swirling N2 flowing over the tabletop and falling to the floor was a scene out of a physics major's mad scientist dream. No injuries were sustained. However, one volunteer who had stirred a little too vigorously remarked, "So now I know what it's like to get liquid nitrogen in my eye."
The ice cream came out well despite the odds. If any doubts lingered, they were extinguished by the fudge, sprinkles, and cherry toppings. There was a large turnout of people (undergrads and grads)...well beyond the 20 that the recipe was intended for, so ice cream had to be rationed. Things like ice cream should never have to be rationed, and SPS will make sure of that the next time it has a liquid N2 ice cream party. Until then, check out the fun video and pictures of the party at the SPS website.