In Tampa, Florida, Emily Stallard, 37, was arrested for attempting to make a bomb inside a Walmart using materials she grabbed from the store shelves. From CNN:
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"A security guard with Walmart noticed the woman ... roaming the aisles of the store and opening unpaid items. The items included flammable materials, projectiles and matches," the sheriff's office said...
"This woman had all the supplies she needed to cause mass destruction at her disposal," Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
"Had it not been for an alert off-duty law enforcement officer and a watchful security staff at Walmart, she may have followed through with her plans to cause an explosion inside the store..."
Stallard had a child with her at the time of the incident, authorities said. She was arrested on charges of attempted arson of a structure, fire bombing, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, child abuse and battery on a law enforcement officer. Deputies said she spit on them while she was being arrested.
This is some serious Wile E. Coyote-level gopher management going on here. Read the rest
Watching the graceful fall of these cooling towers in Jacksonville, Florida offers a momentary reprieve from the fall of western civilization. Read the rest
Heavy rains on the west coast have caused rockslides like this behemoth blocking an Oregon highway south of Eugene. Oregon DOT set up a camera as they blasted it into manageable chunks.
Spoiler: it went way better than Oregon's exploding whale...
PS: here's the "blowed up real good" reference if you're scratching your head.
• 200-ton rock blown up on Oregon highway (The Oregonian) Read the rest
William Powell, author of the iconic counterculture how-to guide The Anarchist Cookbook, died last year of a heart attack. His death was just made public. As a teen, I learned many important things from The Anarchist Cookbook: mixing iodine crystals with ammonia is indeed explosive, smoking banana peels won't get you high (contrary to the book), and Rikers Island is to be avoided. Powell wrote the book when he was 19 and disavowed it later in life after becoming a Christian. The Anarchist Cookbook remained in print, much to his chagrin. “The central idea to the book was that violence is an acceptable means to bring about political change,” he wrote on the book's Amazon page. “I no longer agree with this.” From the Los Angeles Times:
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“The Anarchist Cookbook,” which has sold at least 2 million copies — printed, downloaded or otherwise — and remains in publication, was originally a 160-page book that offered a nuts-and-bolts overview of weaponry, sabotage, explosives, booby traps, lethal poisons and drug making. Illustrated with crude drawings, it informed readers how to make TNT and Molotov cocktails, convert shotguns to rocket launchers, destroy bridges, behead someone with piano wire and brew LSD.
The book came with a warning: “Not for children or morons.”
In a foreword, Powell advised that he hadn’t written the book for fringe militant groups of the era like the Weathermen or Minutemen, but for the “silent majority” in America, those he said needed to learn the tools for survival in an uncertain time.
Weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and his colleagues at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have just uploaded dozens of declassified videos to YouTube of nuclear tests from the 1950s and 1960s. From LLNL:
The U.S. conducted 210 atmospheric nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962, with multiple cameras capturing each event at around 2,400 frames per second. But in the decades since, around 10,000 of these films sat idle, scattered across the country in high-security vaults. Not only were they gathering dust, the film material itself was slowly decomposing, bringing the data they contained to the brink of being lost forever....
For the past five years, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and a crack team of film experts, archivists and software developers have been on a mission to hunt down, scan, reanalyze and declassify these decomposing films. The goals are to preserve the films' content before it's lost forever, and provide better data to the post-testing-era scientists who use computer codes to help certify that the aging U.S. nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective. To date, the team has located around 6,500 of the estimated 10,000 films created during atmospheric testing. Around 4,200 films have been scanned, 400 to 500 have been reanalyzed and around 750 have been declassified.
LLNL Atmospheric Nuclear Tests
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A large crowd came out to watch The Broadway Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas be demolished. Either the bridge builders were very good, or the demolition team was very bad (maybe both), because the bridge withstood an impressive explosion. Read the rest
If you grew up in certain areas of the country, you may have been subjected to a lot of education about the dangers of blasting caps, like this PSA by The Institute Of Makers Of Explosives. Read the rest
A favorite demonstration in high school science classes of yesteryear, dropping sodium into water is spectacularly explosive. In this video, a fellow attempts to skip a pound of sodium across a river.
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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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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
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