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Fanghur

Are acids as potent as those seen in the movies fact or fiction?

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As a science student with a large amount of chemistry training I almost feel foolish for even asking this, but do acids like those seen in movies such as Cube, the Alien franchise, or the new movie Prometheus actually exist outside of Hollywood? For those of you who haven't seen Cube, which I'm guessing is the vast majority of people, in one of the scenes a 'prisoner' is sprayed in the face with some sort of extremely corrosive liquid, presumably an acid, that literally results in his head being practically hollowed out it is so corrosive. Within the span of several seconds or maybe a minute, the acid had completely eaten into his brain and reduced his entire head to little more than a hollow skull. As for the Alien franchise, well I'm fairly certain that many of you will have seen at least one movie that has a xenomorph in it, and thus will know just how almost laughably potent their acidic 'blood' is.

 

Now I'm 99.9% sure that an acid (or alkaline, as the case may be) as powerful as this is pure Hollywood, but is there any, and I mean ANY acid or chemical that could come anywhere close to having this sort of effect on a person? Namely being able to eat through limbs/flesh, stone/metal literally within seconds? Or is that just one more example of Hollywood's ignorance of science?

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Of course, the movies will make stuff look better. That's for explosions, fire, and well, everything.

 

That said,

 

But in some movies, a single drop can cause such devastation. And that's just a lie. Your body, which is 70% water, would dilute that acid, and the reaction would stop.

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Great Vid Captain. Fascinating how the base cut the can in half. Was there a scratch which started the reaction at that halfway point and the fault travelled round with the exposed metal edge - or was there something about the base/air interface, ie the liquids surface, that meant the reaction was more violent there?

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The one other acid I can think of that might even remotely be close to the movies isn't even considered a very strong acid. "Hydrogen Fluoride, HF, is quite soluble in water, but it ionizes only slightly, i.e., it is a weak acid. Although HF is a weak acid, it is very corrosive and is used to etch glass." (Whitten and Gailey, General Chemistry)

 

My chemistry professor always used to say that when it comes to Hydrofluoric acid, the general rule is that you will see your bone before you will feel the pain.

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Great Vid Captain. Fascinating how the base cut the can in half. Was there a scratch which started the reaction at that halfway point and the fault travelled round with the exposed metal edge - or was there something about the base/air interface, ie the liquids surface, that meant the reaction was more violent there?

 

its probably just that below the waterline (baseline? :P) the sodium hydroxide had ate through enough of the aluminium that it could no longer support its own weight.

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As a science student with a large amount of chemistry training

 

Then you will understand about neutralisation.

 

In the films one drop of acid is never used up it continues to 'eat its way' through multiple layers of floor, spaceship of whatever. This is rubbish. The eating action is a neutralisation reaction which will continue till that drop is used up (fully neutralised) and then stop.

 

Several strong acids are so strong that it will take a lot of flesh to neutralise them.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluoroantimonic_acid

 

Compare this with cinema guns that never seem to run out of ammunition. It is a similar artistic liberty.

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