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Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays: A Follow Up

June 30, 2009

Last week, I told you about the videos that we chemists like to watch where shit gets blown up. Don't be fooled: we love a good explosion as much as the next guy, we just prefer to keep the explosions out of lab and safely away from our eyes, nipples, nuts or other important body parts.

We enjoy the ability to rearrange matter to fit our whims and all, but we also like going home at the end of the day with the ability to count to twenty (or twenty-one).

Anyway, I found the video that I had referenced last week wherein the nitrogen triiodide went off with the touch of a feather, but if you watch, it's more like they smack that shit with the stick as opposed to just the feather. That's why I prefer the video I showed last week, wherein the explosion actually came when the feather merely tickled the powder.

Here, you be the judge:


Lame, huh? A contact explosive and you gotta go all Hulk SMASH with it. Ho-hum.

After posting last week's vignette, I went and said something to my boss about ammonia triiodide. He just started laughing. Now, my boss is a bit of a hell-raiser, which is why we get along so well. I figured my boss had a lovely little story about how he had gotten into trouble with NI3 earlier in his career, but no, it was his dad who had pulled some shit.

Seems as though his dad, when he was a kid, decided to make up some ammonia triiodide of his own. So, there he was in his room, toiling away, when his mom smelled ammonia and yelled through the door, "What the hell is going on in there?"

This startled my boss' dad, who then proceeded to spill the whole mess onto his bed, soaking it into his sheets. To hide the fact that he had done this, my boss' dad wadded up his sheets and tossed them in the laundry, said nothing, and went about his business. Well, his mom washed the sheets. Now, remember, NI3 is stable when wet. However, it apparently doesn't come out in the wash, and my boss' grandmother hung the sheet on the line to dry after washing it. The sheet, hanging in the sun and the breeze, dried out completely.

When my boss' grandmother came to take the laundry down, she did what any other red-blooded American does, and she snapped the sheet in the breeze in order to work out the crease from where the sheet had been hanging on the line.

This set off the explosive and, as my boss related to me, she was stuck holding a sheet of fire in her hands, which only came about after the concussion of all the NI3 going up at once.

To that end, let's get a better video in here.


I like how that one has multiple camera angles. Neat.

Also, remember how I talked about how my undergrad professor, Dr. Awesome, often had his roommates painting his keyhole with the explosive so that, when he put his key in the door, it gave a loud bang? Well, my boss' dad did that, too. But, he took it up a notch, and dipped the end of people's pencils in the stuff and let it dry, so that when they'd go to write something down--BANG!

Ah, chemistry...is there no end to your glorious amusements?

9 comments:

red said...

That sheet story is crazy! Poor grandma.

Nej said...

I was a jeweler for a while...and we were constantly doing things to each other by rigging up fireworks to go off at just the right times.

It's probably a good thing we didn't have any of this stuff lying around. :-)

Lostinspace said...

This stuff is the practical joker's dream substance. I can think of a few people whom should never know.

Lisa-tastrophies said...

I bet it scared Grandma Sheet-less!!!!!!!!

Ok, I'll stop now.

Chaka said...

If more young boys saw stuff like this they would be more excited about being chemists than they would playing in the NBA or NFL. You are the man when it comes to blowing stuff up.

Cora said...

A sheet of fire! Ha ha! Now that's some hot sheet.

Some Guy said...

I'll bet the sheet hit the fan for your bosses' dad after that.

Remember, puns always come in threes.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ red: Yeah, even today, a week later, I still chuckle about the sheet of fire blazing up in front of Grams.

@ Nej: Well, the good thing is, it doesn't lay around for long. Pretty much any vibration will set it off. Case in point: my boss made a big bunch of it as a kid, and left in the garage to dry. When his old man came home (he of the flaming sheet), opening the garage door was enough to set it off.

@ Lostinspace: I'm one of those people, probably. But, at the same time, I purposely have not mentioned how to make it, just for that reason.

@ Lisa: *applauds* Beautiful. Just, beautiful. I can't believe that I didn't pick up on the pun until you started the ball rolling.

@ Chaka: Unfortunately, more boys would probably be missing fingers...

@ Cora: Excellent. You've picked up on my love of puns!!!

@ Some Guy: Only in threes? Damn. I was hoping that we'd get more out of this.

Plus, I love a terrible pun almost as much as I love a good explosion.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Did your boss's grandma beat the crap out of the kid right away, or wait until his father came home?