Underground power-boxes nestled beneath the pavements* of London keep blowing the hell up. In its defense, UK Power Networks reminds us that there's a lot of these boxes, and only a few of them explode catastrophically every year, blowing huge, dramatic holes in the streetscene. I'm reassured!
The risk is growing said the HSE, with 12 explosions in 2010, rising to 29 last year, following a slight drop to 8 blasts in 2011. Worryingly, in less than six months of this year there have already been 12 blasts.
In May 2012, three women were injured when a cable pit blew up on Edgware Road and back in August 2011, 76 year old Colin Wingate was confined to a wheelchair for three months following a pavement blow out in north-west London.
*Note for Canadians and Americans: this usage of "pavement" is equivalent to the North American "sidewalk"
Bomber enraged by spelling error can't blow up sign because his bomb instructions were riddled with typos
A 50-year-old man was upset that the sign in front of the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission read "Oregon Teacher Standards an Practices Commission" (the D had fallen off the sign or been worn away), so he resolved to explode it with a pressure-cooker bomb. But the bomb didn't work, an outcome the man blamed on the spelling errors and typos in the bomb-making instructions he'd downloaded from the Internet. So he took his bomb into the Oregon Teacher Standards an Practices Commission and gave them a piece of his mind, vis-a-vis bombs, standards, and education. And practices.
"He walked quite confidently into our office as though he had a mission," she said, "and I think that was what alarmed me right off the bat." (Because no one who wants to be a teacher comes in with a good attitude? My guess is that the pressure cooker with wires sticking out of it might have also played a role in her alarm.) The man explained that he was upset with their misspelled sign and had just tried to blow it up for that reason. Didn't work, and you know what else?
After discussing his failed attempt to detonate his bomb, the man complained that the instructions he downloaded to make the bomb also had misspellings. [According to the director, he] implied that [she] and her employees should be concerned about the level of education children receive, given that his [bomb-making] instructions were rife with errors.
I think that only follows, though, if these were official State of Oregon bomb-making instructions that he'd gotten hold of. Then it would be fair to worry that our children are not getting the kind of training in literacy and improvised explosive devices that they will need to be successful in today's competitive economy. But if these were just any old bomb-making instructions, then the state's not to blame. You always have to be careful with what you find on the internet.
Caleb sez, "I wanted to try making something in the style of "Q" from the James Bond movies. My idea was to make an emergency self destruct system for laptops and portable hard drives. It turned out pretty well, it is always fun to watch stuff melt!"
I wanted to implement thermite as a self destruct mechanism inside the device. To do this, I had to come up with a way to ignite the thermite. This stuff is very difficult to light. You have to get it really really hot. The easiest way is to use magnesium, which itself isn’t the easiest thing to light.
What I finally landed on was an ignition system that uses model rocket igniters, gun powder, and magnesium to light the thermite. The model rocket igniter can be set off from the 12v line inside your computer. However, it isn’t hot enough to light magnesium shavings, much less thermite. To get it to work, I needed to add some gunpowder. A small amount of gun powder would get hot enough to light the magnesium shavings, which in turn were hot enough to light the thermite. I had to be careful though, because too much gunpowder would cause a rapid expansion, blowing the thermite everywhere instead of lighting it. You can actually see some red thermite being blown out of the external hard drive and the laptop as the gunpowder ignites.
Dr. Roy Lowry demonstrates the awesome power of liquid nitrogen for a group of students at Plymouth University with a riveting demonstration that culminates in making an LN2-based bomb out of a water bottle, placing it in a giant rubber trash-can full of 1500 ping-pong balls, and waiting for the BANG.
MrBrickLabel has a Flickr set of absolutely gorgeous vintage Chinese firecracker labels.
I have been collecting firecracker and firework labels since I was 5 years old (1968). I appraise, buy, sell and trade firecracker labels. Everything you see here could possibly be for trade. I will try to post everything eventually. Hopefully more collectors can do the same and we can use this as a trading and sharing tool...
Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG has been exploring the bizarre world of Swiss self-destructing infrastructure, documented in La Place de la Concorde Suisse, John McPhee's "rich, journalistic study of the Swiss Army's role in Swiss society." It turns out that the Swiss Army specifies that bridges, hillsides, and tunnels need to be designed so that they can be remotely destroyed in the event of societal collapse, pan-European war, or invasion. Meanwhile, underground parking garages (and some tunnels) are designed to be sealed off as airtight nuclear bunkers.
To interrupt the utility of bridges, tunnels, highways, railroads, Switzerland has established three thousand points of demolition. That is the number officially printed. It has been suggested to me that to approximate a true figure a reader ought to multiply by two. Where a highway bridge crosses a railroad, a segment of the bridge is programmed to drop on the railroad. Primacord fuses are built into the bridge. Hidden artillery is in place on either side, set to prevent the enemy from clearing or repairing the damage...
There are also hollow mountains! Booby-trapped cliff-faces!
Near the German border of Switzerland, every railroad and highway tunnel has been prepared to pinch shut explosively. Nearby mountains have been made so porous that whole divisions can fit inside them. There are weapons and soldiers under barns. There are cannons inside pretty houses. Where Swiss highways happen to run on narrow ground between the edges of lakes and to the bottoms of cliffs, man-made rockslides are ready to slide...
The impending self-demolition of the country is "routinely practiced," McPhee writes. "Often, in such assignments, the civilian engineer who created the bridge will, in his capacity as a military officer, be given the task of planning its destruction."
As the Forest Service makes ready to explode a cabinfull of frozen cows, we could all benefit from refreshing our frozen livestock explosion know-how with this official USDA Forest Service memo, "Obliterating Animal Carcasses With Explosives."
The following examples illustrate partial obliteration (dispersion) for a horse that weighs about 1,100 pounds (453.6 kilograms). In the first example, urgency is not a factor. Perhaps a few days are expected before the public is to visit the area, or perhaps bears will not be attracted to the carcass. In any case, in this example, dispersion is acceptable. [Figure 1]
Place 3 pounds (1.36 kilograms) of explosives under the carcass in four locations (Figure 1). The carcass can then be rolled onto the explosives if necessary.
Place 1 pound (.45 kilograms) of explosives in two locations on each leg.
Use detonator cord to tie the explosives charges together.
Use water bags to hold the explosives close to the carcass if it is impractical to place charges under the carcass, for example when the carcass is laying in water.
Horseshoes should be removed to minimize dangerous flying debris.
An AP story describes a plan to explode a group of frozen cow-carcasses in a remote mountain cabin in Colorado. The cows, which were roaming free in Gunnison National Forest, were caught in a cold snap and sought shelter in the cabin. Now that the thaw is coming, there is no easy way of getting them out of their frozen death-chamber. If the cows are allowed to thaw and decompose, they could contaminate the forest's hot-springs; and bringing in trucks would violate the forest's preservation rules. The plan, then, is to explode the cows while they are still frozen, turning them into manageable frozen chunks that can be more readily removed.
Carroll praised the Forest Service for trying to remove the animals while doing the least damage. He said burning down the cabin or packing out the carcasses are probably the best solutions.
"They need to use the minimal tool to get the job done. They don't want to leave the land scarred," he said.
Segin said the Forest Service occasionally uses explosives to destroy carcasses of animals that can't be retrieved.
"We've used them as a means of disposal to remove dead horses, elk and other animals in areas where it's impossible to get them out," he said.
Denise Balkissoon reports on a new twist in the trial of Byron Sonne, the Toronto security researcher who's been trapped in a kafkaesque nightmare ever since he was arrested on a raft of stupid "terrorism"-charges related to his efforts to point out that the billion-plus-dollar G20 security emperor had no clothes. Denise writes:
Byron Sonne (G20 Hacker) case got reopened for 60 minutes this week, so the Crown could terrify us with the knowledge that he had more potassium chlorate than they thought. It was dug up out of his old backyard during a media circus last week. They said they were going to explode it, but it didn't explode, so instead they made a boring fire.
(Image: cropped, downsized thumbnail from a larger image by Tyler Anderson/National Post)
Lakelady sends us, "a complete online text for how and why farming with dynamite is a good idea written by E.I. Du Pont de Nemours Powder Company. Published in 1910. Note the lovely art nouveau embellishments on some of the pages."