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Video: Freakiest chemical reaction I've ever seen

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By David Silverberg
Posted Sep 26, 2012 in Science
Behold a video that will likely fascinate or creep you out. Shown is fire being lit on spoonful of mercury(II) thiocyanate, an inorganic chemical compound, the salt of Hg2+ and the thiocyanate anion. Yep, Greek to me too, but the visuals are what hooked me to this very nerdy clip.
When the scientists apply some heat to the compound in a tank, at 1:21 of the video, a winding "snake" immediately begins to form. It's wildly entertaining, albeit creepy. Like it's an alien being taking shape.
Evidently, this is called Pharaoh's serpent and its applications are mainly in fireworks. I remember a South Park episode that cited this chemical phenomenon.

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