Diamonds are one of the hardest natural materials known to mankind. The carbon-based material can be used to cut through steel, wood, and glass, and under normally it’s so hard that it can’t be burnt, but scientist Peter Wothers shows us that there is a way to destroy diamond in this British Royal Institution experiment. While demonstrating, he plays a cool little prank on Nobel prize winning chemist Sir Harry Kroto.
Wothers explains that diamonds are made of carbon and can burn like carbon as well. To demonstrate this experiment, he borrow’s Kroto’s diamond engagement ring. Wothers goes on to explain that it is possible to get a diamond to burn by surrounding it with pure oxygen. To add a ‘twist’ to the experiment, the “exhaust” tube from the burning chamber leads to a jar of lime water. Lime is calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2, and when the carbon dioxide from the burning diamond from the ring diamond gets forced in to the water, the two combing to form calcium carbonate.
The Nobel prize winner was a good sport about the whole thing once he found out about the prank.