“Nitrogen triiodide is a highly unstable substance that detonates when disturbed. So we disturbed it. Nitrogen triiodide is so unstable that even something like a mosquito landing on it can set it off. Three iodine atoms cluster around one side of a nitrogen atom. Being crowded around one end causes something called bond strain as the atoms repel each other in a small space. The result is that the molecule is prone to falling apart, explosively.” (YouTube)
I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of nitrogen triiodide before. This explosive video by The Royal Institution is great. It features plenty of explosions and oodles of science, coupled together with a super slow motion camera. It’s crazy how fast the shockwave and explosion travel, just at the lightest touch.
Do stick around for the triiodide super-montage at the end. Onwards!