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Drinking Liquid Nitrogen

November 09, 2008

Saturday night I had a ball playing with Nathan Arnold and drinking liquid nitrogen.

Liquid nitrogen is very cold. It starts to boil at -321 Fahrenheit and will rapidly cause frostbite on contact with living tissue. That includes taking a cupful into your mouth. This is slightly dangerous because your lips will instantly freeze to the rim of the glass.

Technically, you are never supposed to do this with liquid nitrogen:

The funny thing is, I had no intention of performing that night. I was attending Seacompression, an annual party for the Seattle Burning Man community. I did not bring fire sculptures. I did not help create the party. I simply wanted to hang out at another party in the parking lot, have a few drinks, chat and avoid all the noise that comes from such an event.

However, my friends eventually dragged me into the building where I found a really great chill space with tea gardens, food and Nathan Arnold from Johnny Jetpack Propulsion Labs. Nathan and I go back a long time and used to perform with Cirque de Flambe. He was doing a performance where he was freezing roses using liquid nitrogen and shattering them for an audience. Nathan offered me a glass of nitrogen to play with. Well, one thing lead to another and he started pouring it on my head and I started drinking it, which I admit was not smart. But then again, over the years I have been known as the kind of guy that will do things that most smart people would not do.

In the end, I ended up drinking more than a cupful. One cup lead to two cups, which lead to a gallon or more.

Today I am suffering quite a bit, but I really had fun!

Special thanks to Qathi Hart and Espresso Buzz for supplying the photos.

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