After a brief hiatus wherein I discussed conversations I've had with my dick hanging out and reports of large, feline predators stalking my property, we've returned with the series of posts most likely to get DHS rifling through my trash cans: Totally Blow Shit Up Tuesdays, Poobomber's Brainchild.
Today, let's take a look at what some people have dubbed the "methane tower". Here, we have an attractive dark-haired girl filling a sink with methane gas and a dorky side-kick with a flaming stick. Awesomeness ensues.
Okay, so it wasn't necessarily an explosion, but there was a towering flume and some bright lights. What happened was the attractive dark-haired girl took some soapy water and bubbled methane gas through it. Being lighter than water, the methane gas rose to the surface and was trapped in the soap bubbles. Once a nice pile of bubble has accrued, we touch a flame to it and *poof* we have a giant column of flame. No word on whether the Israelites are following it by night yet...
This is a classic combustion reaction, wherein we take a hydrocarbon (methane) in the presence of our friendly neighborhood gaseous oxidizer (oxygen) and we get the bane of Al Gore and the aliens from Signs (carbon dioxide and water, respectively).
This is also the recipe for the "fire triangle":
At this point, we should ask ourselves, where do we get methane? Methane gas parades about under the clever guise of "natural gas" and can be harvested from natural reservoirs, typically along coastal areas. It is a by-product of the natural decay of organic material, so the effervescence you see in bogs and swamps and such is a release of methane gas from material rotting on the lake bed. Occasionally, these will catch fire and float eerily over the surface of the water and are called "will-o'-the-wisp(s)".
Another source of methane gas is in your bowels. Yes, flatulence is primarily a release of methane gas (with some sulfurous compounds thrown in for taste). Essentially that means that, what we've seen here, is the lab equivalent of lighting farts...just without the feculent odor and singed ass- and grundle-hairs.
And you guys thought science was boring!