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Emmanuel Virot and Alexandre Ponomarenko were originally investigating extreme weather when they realised that their equipment could answer a more domestic puzzle: why does popcorn pop? The result is a series of beautiful, slow-motion films of corn heating until it explodes.

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As BBC News explains, the experiments found that 180C seems to be the critical temperature. The mechanics of this process was mysterious – but if you look carefully at the following video, you can see that at the point of explosion, a tiny “leg” emerges from the kernel that bounces off the plate, propelling the corn from the surface. It looks a bit like the birth scene in Alien (although another BBC Future team member swears he sees Godzilla wrestling a giant beach ball.)

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In fact, the build-up and release of energy as the leg hits the ground is surprisingly similar to a human gymnast’s somersault, Virot and Ponomarkeno claim.

(SPL)

The sound comes from escaping water vapour, which resonates in cavities within the kernel. It is the same reason that volcanoes grumble, and a champagne bottle pops as you uncork it.

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It’s just one of many examples showing how striking everyday explosions can be when viewed in slow motion. Consider this film of bubble gum collapsing on a girl’s face:

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It’s intriguingly different to a balloon bursting. Below, you can see a kind of ghostly skeleton forming as the force of the air creates ruptures in the rubber:

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Even something as mundane as spaghetti can become a spectacle as it shatters into hundreds of shards:

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The world around us is explosively alive, if you just take the time to slow down and appreciate it.

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