Field of Science

Weird Words of Science: MythBusters at the Beach

We're on vacation this week, "down the shore" as they say in these parts. My cable deprived kids are enjoying evenings watching MythBusters and Nick. The episode du jour is Grenades and Guts, in which the myth that drinking a liter of Diet coke and eating a pack of Mentos will make your stomach explode is busted. In the process, the team wondered if the muriatic acid in the stomach was somehow blocking the usual spectacular reaction.

Muriatic acid is better known to chemists as hydrochloric acid. It gets its name from the Latin for brine - muria. It was also sometimes called marine acid, again calling to mind its briny origins (though the eytmology of marine is different than that of muriatic, the former comes from the Latin for sea, mare).

The first synthesis of hydrochloric acid is attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan around 800 CE. Mixing oil of vitriol (sulfuric acid) and common salt (sodium chloride), produces hydrochloric acid: HCl.