Thursday, January 31, 2008

Things Blowing Up! - Fun and Not So Fun

Exploding dump trucks and exploding whales... what could be better than that?

It's blogging time again. I'm going to do my best to update Notes from the Technology Underground fairly regularly after being on hiatus for several months. My goal is to update twice a week with more of the types of posts that readers have found interesting in the past

Here's a story that received a fair amount of attention in the local (Minneapolis, MN, USA) press. It concerns one Brian Childs, a 30 year old man who lives in rural Welch township south and east of Minneapolis, MN.

From what I can surmise from news reports, the guy obtained 100 pounds of a compound called Tannerite which is an explosive that you mix up on site from two non-explosive chemicals. According to wikipedia, the ingredients are ammonium nitrate and ammonium perchlorate with a bit of aluminum powder and zirconium hydride to get things cookin'.

click here to see the video of the exploding dump truck

Typically, tannerite is detonated by shooting it. Basically, you take your long range rifle and put a bullet through the bottle holding the mixed up ingredients. Kaboom!

Mr. Childs appears to be in a lot of trouble because the explosion he made was large enough to trigger alarms at a nuclear power plant several miles away. The police were called and locked him up, I suppose because they thought he might be a terrorist.
Bill Gurstelle's comment: I'm not sure how I feel about this. As one who loves to watch high energy, high velocity examples of science and chemistry, I must say it's a pretty darn good explosion.

On the other hand, firework makers and more serious thinkers may likely disagree. I wonder can't tell if he put his neighbors and friends in harm's way. But assuming that the exploded dump truck was sited in such in way to as to pose no danger, than I'd have to say it's nobody's business but his own. Just because some alarm went off doesn't make him a criminal.

Thar She Blows! (Bonus Post)

While searching the web for pictures of exploding dump trucks for this post, I came across this story about a whale that exploded while being trucked through a city in Taiwan. Here are the unbelievable pictures of the whale (sperm whale, I think) pre and post explosion:

Evidently, gases from the rotting whale carcass built up inside the thing and all of a sudden, this happened: