Nitrogen triiodide: "So volatile that a mosquito landing on it will make it explode"


The Royal Institution posted this demonstration of an explosively unstable substance called nitrogen triiodide. I love the purple smoke it makes.

Nitrogen triiodide is so unstable that even something like a mosquito landing on it can set it off. Three iodine atoms cluster around one side of a nitrogen atom. Being crowded around one end causes something called bond strain as the atoms repel each other in a small space. The result is that the molecule is prone to falling apart, explosively.

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The story of the men who destroyed the Unabomber's last bomb

When the feds busted the Unabomber they found a live bomb under his bed. They needed it for evidence. But they also needed it to not explode. Enter a crack team of bomb experts who were flown in to Montana to dismantle the explosives in Ted Kaczynski's backwoods cabin. Read the rest

Genetically-modified mouse to sniff out landmines

The MouSensor is a lab mouse genetically-engineered to sniff out land mines. Mice have already been trained to find explosives by scent but according to Hunter College biologist Charlotte D'Hulst, the MouSensor is ultra sensitive to the odor of TNT. From The Guardian:

Given its extreme sensitivity to TNT, the mouse would probably have some sort of seizure when it sniffed explosives, said D'Hulst, because so many neurons in its olfactory bulb would be firing at once. And that seizure might be detectable by some device implanted into the mouse.

"We are thinking along the lines of implanting a chip under the skin of these animals that would wirelessly report back to a computer when the animal's behaviour is changing upon being triggered by a TNT landmine," said D'Hulst. Once the location of a landmine had been identified, a bomb-disposal expert could go in and neutralise it in the normal way. The mouse itself would be safe from the landmine, since it would be too small to trigger an explosion.

"GM mouse created to detect landmines" Read the rest

Etching a mural into a wall with explosives

Aleandre Farto's explosive etching technique involves precision detonation of plaster and brick to make enormous, smoky murals. This video, with music by Orelha Negra, demonstrates the technique.

Orelha Negra - M.I.R.I.A.M. X Vhils (Thanks, JonGilbert via Submitterator!)  Anvil Shooting: using explosives to fire anvils -- yes, ANVILS ... Explosive but edible Chocolate Bomb - Boing Boing Rocket Making for Amateurs - Another Living Dangerously Art ... Read the rest

Hitting droplets of nitroglycerin with a hammer in slow motion

In the interests of science, the presenter from the BBC's "How We Shook the World" hits a droplet of nitro with a hammer, over and over again, in slow motion. I am enscienced!

Nitroglycerine Detonation Filmed in Slo-Mo - Explosions: How We Shook the World, Preview - BBC Four (Thanks, Freeal, via Submitterator) Slow-motion video of Lindy Hop dancing Slow motion video of things being destroyed Someone being slapped in super slow motion Video: Dogs in slow motion Frog jump in super slow motion Apollo 11 launch revisited in slow-mo HD Female tennis players hitting the ball in slow-motion Read the rest