Transcript: Crystal Flower | Apr 14, 1990

(music plays)

Outside a diner, a man reads the paper, another man juggles and a magician plays tricks. The name “The science Café” appears in neon lights on one of the windows. Inside, the waitress shows a menu that reads “The Science Café proudly offers food for thought. Science demonstration from Ontario Science Centre. Crystal flowers. Presented by Allisa Ritchie. Producer and director: Michael Kushner. Researcher: Lisa-Ann Dunley.”

A caption reads “Allisa Ritchie. Ontario Science Centre.”

Allisa is in her mid-forties, with short wavy brown hair. She wears a blue lab coat and safety goggles. She stands by a table with a tank of nitrogen and a plant on it.

She says THIS IS LIQUID NITROGEN
AND WE'RE GOING TO USE IT
TO TALK ABOUT CRYOGENICS.
NOW, CRYOGENICS IS THE
STUDY OF VERY COLD THINGS.
WHEN WE FREEZE THINGS
THAT AREN'T ALIVE,
WE CAN PUT THEM INTO
THE LIQUID NITROGEN
AND BRING THEM OUT AND
THEY DON'T REALLY CHANGE.
BUT, LIVING THINGS ARE
A LITTLE DIFFERENT.
A FLOWER IS A
LIVING THING,
IT'S MADE UP OF CELLS,
JUST LIKE YOU AND I,
AND THE CELLS
ARE MOSTLY WATER.

She cuts of one of the flowers off the plant and takes out all the leaves from the stem.

She says WHEN WATER FREEZES, IT
EXPANDS AND IT PUSHES OUT
AGAINST THE SIDES
OF THE CELL.
SO, LET'S SEE WHAT
HAPPENS TO THIS FLOWER
WHEN IT'S PUT INTO
THE LIQUID NITROGEN.

She dips the flower in liquid nitrogen.

[bubbling sounds]

She says THE LIQUID NITROGEN IS
BOILING A LITTLE BIT MORE
VIGOROUSLY BECAUSE THE
FLOWER IS WARM
AND THE LIQUID NITROGEN IS
ABOUT MINUS 200 DEGREES CELSIUS.
SO, IT'S FREEZING THE
FLOWER VERY QUICKLY.
WHEN WE BRING THE FLOWER
OUT IT DOESN'T LOOK A LOT
DIFFERENT; IT'S STEAMING
A LITTLE BIT, PERHAPS,
BUT IT STILL LOOKS
LIKE A FLOWER.
NOW, WE'LL TOUCH
IT TO SOMETHING.
[shattering]
AND YOU CAN SEE THE
FLOWER IS VERY BRITTLE,
AND THAT'S BECAUSE OF
ALL THE ICE CRYSTALS
FORMED INSIDE.

All the petals fall off the stem.

She says THE REASON THAT WE
USE LIQUID NITROGEN
TO FREEZE THINGS IS NOT
TO MAKE THEM FALL APART.
BUT, WE DO USE IT TO
FREEZE SMALLER THINGS,
LIKE SPERM AND
EGGS AND EMBRYOS.
LIQUID NITROGEN IS
USED FOR SPERM BANKS.
AND THE WAY THAT
THIS CAN BE DONE,
IS BY PROTECTING THOSE
INDIVIDUAL CELLS
WITH SOMETHING
LIKE GLYCEROL,
THAT'S LIKE AN
ANTI-FREEZE.
SO THAT WHEN YOU PUT IT
INTO THE LIQUID NITROGEN,
IT DOESN'T
DESTROY THE CELL.
AND EVEN TODAY, PEOPLE ARE
HAVING THEIR WHOLE BODIES
FROZEN IN LIQUID NITROGEN
IN THE HOPES THAT
IN A COUPLE OF
THOUSAND OF YEARS,
WE CAN BRING THEM OUT
OF THE LIQUID NITROGEN,
THAW THEM, AND CURE
THEM FROM WHATEVER
DISEASE THEY DIED.
WELL, THAT'S A GREAT IDEA,
BUT YOU BRING SOMEBODY
OUT OF THE FREEZER AND THEY'RE
GOING TO END UP LOOKING
LIKE THAT FLOWER IF YOU BUMP
THEM AGAINST SOMETHING.
THEIR ARMS AND THEIR LEGS
ARE GOING TO FALL OFF.
SO, WE CANNOT BRING
THEM BACK TO LIFE.

(music plays)

A slate appears with the caption “For more information read: Cryogenic Processes and Equipment, 1982 by T.H Frederking et al. Copyright.1983. New York. American Institute of Chemical Engineerring.”

Another caption reads “A production of TV Ontario. The Ontario Educational Communications Authority. 1989.”

Watch: Crystal Flower