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c. 1971: Tehran Students, Iran
1954: Marilyn Monroe reading James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’
image by Eve Arnold
The pepper and water science trick is one of the easiest magic tricks you can perform. Here’s how to do the trick and an explanation of how it works.
Materials for the Pepper & Water Trick
You only need a few common kitchen ingredients to perform this science magic trick.
plate or bowl
Performing the Pepper & Water Trick
Pour water into a plate or bowl.
Shake some pepper onto the water.
If you dip your finger into the pepper and water, nothing much happens.
If you put a drop of dishwashing liquid on your finger and then dip it into the pepper and water the pepper will rush to the outer edges of the dish. If you are doing this as a ‘trick’ then you might have one finger that is clean and another finger that you dipped in detergent before performing the trick.
How the Pepper & Water Trick Works
When you add detergent to water the surface tension of the water is lowered. Water normally bulges up a bit, like what you see when you look at a water drop. When the surface tension is lowered, the water wants to spread out. As the water flattens on the dish, the pepper that is floating on top of the water is carried to the outer edge of the plate as if by magic.
1946: “Life and Love on the New York City Subway” by Stanley Kubrick