‘The Oppau explosion occurred on September 21, 1921 when a tower silo storing 4,500 tonnes of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded at a BASF plant in Oppau, now part of Ludwigshafen, Germany, killing 500–600 people and injuring about 2,000 more.
The plant began producing ammonium sulfate in 1911, but during World War I when Germany was unable to obtain the necessary sulfur, it began to produce ammonium nitrate as well. Ammonia could be produced without overseas resources, using the Haber process.
Compared to ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate is strongly hygroscopic, so the mixture of ammonium sulfate and nitrate clogged together under the pressure of its own weight, turning it into a plaster-like substance in the 20 m high silo. The workers needed to use pickaxes to get it out, a problematic situation because they could not enter the silo and risk being buried in collapsing fertilizer.
To ease their work, small charges of dynamite were used to loosen the mixture. [..]‘
There are a few stories of Thomas Edison’s adventures. Science was extremely dodgy in the past. For example:
“I had read in a scientific paper the method of making nitroglycerine, and was so fired by the wonderful properties it was said to possess, that I determined to make some of the compound. We tested what we considered a very small quantity, but this produced such terrible and unexpected results that we became alarmed, the fact dawning upon us that we had a very large white elephant in our possession. At 6 A.M. I put the explosive into a sarsaparilla bottle, tied a string to it, wrapped it in a paper, and gently let it down into the sewer, corner of State and Washington Streets.”
‘Left to its own devices, TATP can decompose to oxygen or ozone and acetone. However, TATP is so unstable that it can spontaneously explode in an unpredictable and catastrophic manner.
TATP is especially dangerous because it is constrained in a ring like structure, the carbon and methane groups which are shown in gray and white in the images below do not allow for the elimination of the unstable extra oxygen atoms and the retention of the ring like structure at the same time. When the rings of TATP fall apart the rearrangement is necessarily wholesale and dramatic.
The mixing solvents like acetone and peroxides like hydrogen peroxide happens mistakenly on occasion in laboratories. On this occasional basis the inherent and dangerous instability of TATP is rediscovered inadvertently and explosively in a refluxing vessel or a when a precipitate is being dried in an oven. If you work in a laboratory, be very careful when working with peroxides.’
(367kB and 3.8meg Flash videos)
see it here »
‘A raw turnip was at the root of a bomb scare that last for hours at a law office. An employee at Haller & Colvin Attorneys at Law called 911 Thursday after opening a U.S. Postal Service box and finding a suspicious gift bag inside, police said.
Officers then called the city’s bomb unit, which brought in a robot to carry the package outside to a parking lot. X-rays showed no signs of an explosive, but bomb technicians decided to detonate the package with a water cannon just to be safe, police spokesman Michael Joyner said.
After that, they opened the box and found the turnip, wrapped in lettuce-green tissue paper inside a sandwich bag.
It was unclear who was supposed to receive the vegetable.’
‘The U.S. Navy succeeded in its effort to shoot down an inoperable spy satellite before it could crash to Earth and potentially release a cloud of toxic gas, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.
The first opportunity for the Navy to shoot down the satellite came about 10:30 p.m. ET Wednesday. The plan included firing a missile from the USS Lake Erie in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii to destroy the satellite.
“A network of land-, air-, sea- and space-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” a Department of Defense statement said.’
Followup to Disabled spy satellite threatens Earth.
‘Castro once said: “If surviving assassination were an Olympic event, I’d win the gold medal.”
His bodyguard Fabian Escalante went back through his records and counted 638 attempts to kill the Cuban leader.
Many of them were confirmed in CIA files which were declassified last year.
President Kennedy was said to have asked James Bond creator Ian Fleming for tips on how to wipe out Castro – and many of the attempts to kill or discredit him seem more appropriate to a bad Bond spoof than real life.’
‘Sometime after midnight on September 6, 2007, at least four low-flying Israeli Air Force fighters crossed into Syrian airspace and carried out a secret bombing mission on the banks of the Euphrates River, about ninety miles north of the Iraq border. The seemingly unprovoked bombing, which came after months of heightened tension between Israel and Syria over military exercises and troop buildups by both sides along the Golan Heights, was, by almost any definition, an act of war. But in the immediate aftermath nothing was heard from the government of Israel. In contrast, in 1981, when the Israeli Air Force destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, near Baghdad, the Israeli government was triumphant, releasing reconnaissance photographs of the strike and permitting the pilots to be widely interviewed.’
‘The Sixties were an era of extreme reality. I miss the smell of tear gas. I miss the fear of getting beaten.’
‘A German man in the northeastern town of Gross Godems was being treated for serious burns Monday after accidentally setting his apartment ablaze when he mixed up a bottle of gasoline with alcohol, police said.
The 56-year-old apparently grabbed the wrong bottle and took a swig from the gasoline flask, then spat it out when he realized his mistake.
The gas hit a lit cigarette, sparking the fire, police said.
The man’s name was not released.’
‘I used to be in the Navy, stationed on an Aegis-class guided-missile cruiser. One day at sea, I’m taking a break on the flight deck (which was just behind the rear Aegis radar array), and I noticed all these dead birds all over the flight deck. It didn’t take me too long to realize that these birds had flown in front of the radar and been microwaved to death.
This gave me an idea. I figured if it works on birds, it should work on popcorn. A microwave’s a microwave, right? So, the next time we pull into port, I go to get some microwave popcorn.’
They’ve attached a small camera to the inside of an engine so you can watch the piston and valves move inside a cylinder.
(2.9meg Flash video)
see it here »
He may have good dexterity in his fingers, but he appears to be some sort of idiot regardless.
(1.8meg Flash video)
see it here »
‘London’s police force was found guilty Thursday of endangering the public during a frantic manhunt for four failed suicide bombers that led to the killing of an innocent Brazilian man on a subway train [..]
The manhunt unfolded with the British capital already on edge after four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters two weeks earlier.
The officers watching the building trailed Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, out of the apartments, suspecting he was one of the bombers. They followed him onto two buses, into a subway station and finally into a train. There, officers, believing he was a bomber, shot him seven times at close range in front of morning commuters.
On Thursday, a jury found police guilty of breaking health and safety laws. Judge Richard Henriques ordered the Metropolitan Police to pay a total of $2.1 million for breakdowns in the operation.’
‘A kamikaze squirrel fell from the sky and detonated a Bayonne woman’s car yesterday, police said today.
Lindsey Millar, 23, and her brother, Tony, 22, were both home Wednesday at about 12:45 p.m. when Lindsey’s car suddenly started burning outside their 42nd Street home.
Tony Millar said firefighters told them it was the work of a buck-toothed saboteur that had been gnawing on overhead power lines connected to a transformer directly above the 2006 Toyota Camry.
“The squirrel chewed through the wire, was set on fire, fell down directly to where the car was,” Tony Millar said. “The squirrel, on fire, slid into the engine compartment and blew up the car.’
‘These guys build a huge stack of wood and then wheel in a large jet engine to start the fire. Amazing the power from a jet engine as the wood is engulfed in flames.’
(7.5meg Flash video)
see it here »
‘On 22 September 1979, sometime around 3:00am local time, a US Atomic Energy Detection System satellite recorded a pattern of intense flashes in a remote portion of the Indian Ocean. Moments later an unusual, fast-moving ionospheric disturbance was detected by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and at about the same time a distant, muffled thud was overheard by the US Navy’s undersea Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS). Evidently something violent and explosive had transpired in the ocean off the southern tip of Africa.
Examination of the data gathered by satellite Vela 6911 strongly suggested that the cause of these disturbances was a nuclear device. The pattern of flashes exactly matched that of prior nuclear detections, and no other phenomenon was known to produce the same millisecond-scale signature. Unfortunately, US intelligence agencies were uncertain who was responsible for the detonation, and the US government was conspicuously reluctant to acknowledge it at all.’
Hmm.. This video makes me look at my bike helmet and an empty drink bottle sitting next to me with interest.
(753kB Flash video)
see it here »
‘Some soldiers in Afghanistan blow up a road block and inadvertently arouse an angry wasp nest.’
(2.9meg Flash video)
see it here »
These are images from inside a Russian bomb making factory.
Lots of cool looking bits and pieces with Russian text on them.
Seems like a fucken lot of nerve agent to store in that manner tho.
‘The RPG that had plowed into Moss’ lower abdomen stretched from one hip to the other. If the RPG went off, it would kill everyone within 30 feet of him. Yet Angell stayed close, bandaging his wounds and stabilizing the weapon so that movement wouldn’t cause it to explode.
Moss was still fully conscious, so Angell ordered him to not look down at the injury. He didn’t want Moss to panic.
“I’m gonna do everything I can,” Angell said to Moss. “You keep fighting with me and I’ll keep fighting with you.” [..]
Reports of injuries had been radioed to the medical evacuation helicopter (MEDEVAC) base in Salerno, Afghanistan — minus one crucial piece of information.
“We didn’t tell them that, you know, Moss had live ordnance in him,” Mariani said, “because there was that possibility that, you know, they might not want to transport him with live ordnance in him.”‘
The dragster disintegrates and explodes at top speed, but this guy gets nothing but a small burn on his pinky finger.
(3.7meg Flash video)
see it here »
‘A man tired of burglars nearly blew off his hand when bomb-like devices he set around his house exploded in his presence instead, authorities said.
Victor Iacobescu, 50, ran to a neighbor’s house Thursday with a bloody towel wrapped around his right hand.
“Apparently, he was trying to set booby traps to get the next guy who tried to break in,” fire Lt. Maggie Murphy said.
Iacobescu had been the victim of several break-ins, she said.
The neighbor, Patrick Struble, said the explosives were “like a pipe bomb. He accidentally triggered it, and it almost blew his hand off.”‘
‘A Milwaukee man suffered serious burns during a camping trip and is suing the company that makes his aftershave, reported WISN-TV in Milwaukee.
Federal court records filed this week show that Charles Lewitzke, 81, was at the Arrowhead Campground in the Wisconsin Dells with his kids and grandchildren in 2004. He washed and shaved in a bathroom and afterward applied Brut aftershave on his neck and face. He also used an aerosol deodorant.
Documents said that after grooming, he walked to a fire pit to cook breakfast. When he was starting the fire, the body parts that had Brut on them ignited, seriously burning 30 percent of his body. The second- and third-degree burns needed skin grafts in some areas.’
‘A group of soldiers find a location they suspect has an IED. They use a bomb defusing robot to neutrailize it but end up setting off the IED completely destroying the robot.’
(1.5meg Flash video)
see it here »
‘A school in northern France was evacuated yesterday after a nine-year-old girl took a World War II handgrenade to show to the class.
Her teacher had asked students to bring an unusual object to school, according to deputy police chief Vincent Roberti.
The girl obliged, pulling a grenade her brother had found out of her bag.
The teacher “immediately reacted, putting the weapon in a plastic bag, taking it to the courtyard and warning the school principal,” Mr Roberti said.
Police, firefighters and bomb-disposal experts arrived on the scene while the 191-student school was evacuated.’