Go to previous post:
But who observes the observers?

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
Gassical class

Our Admirable Sponsors

March 3, 2002

The wake-up bomb Chad Orzel shares a story about liquid nitrogen and its discontents:
9A grad student at MIT was working late one night, and being both 9bored and easily amused, poured a bunch of liquid nitrogen into a 92-liter Coke bottle, screwed the cap on tight, and started kicking 9it up and down the hall. After a time, it began to swell alarmingly, 9so he tried to take the cap off, but the bottle had swollen too 9much. So he took it into the bathroom, and put the bottle in the 9sink, then waited outside the door. 9

9At about the point where he was going to head back into the bathroom 9to see what was what, he heard an explosion as the bottle finally 9burst. The resulting explosion reduced one of those standard-issue 9porcelain institutional sinks to rubble. I’ve seen photos of the 9aftermath—small chunks of sink, twisted pipes coming out of the 9wall, little daggers of plastic embedded in the walls and ceiling.

Chad adds in a postscript:
9 The events described took place at about 3 am. When the campus police 9arrived on the scene, they called the student’s advisor at home, and 9said “One of your students just blew up the lab with nitroglycerin.” 9He came screaming in to campus, to find that one of his students had 9blown up a bathroom sink with liquid nitrogen, mumbled “Oh, well, 9that’s…part of the experiments” and went back home. 9

9I’m also told that student in question had an insurance policy, 9taken out by his family, covering him against damage he did to other 9people’s property by pulling this sort of stunt….

Chad also notes that the soda bottle full of liquid nitrogen is “a potential improvised weapon which has been unjustly overlooked by generations of military-adventure SF writers.” True. [12:40 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on The wake-up bomb:

Joel Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2002, 08:03 AM:

My wife, currently earning a master's degree in education, learned that trick last summer from the resident mad scientist of her program.aaSaid science teacher demonstrated the impromptu bomb under relatively controlled conditions in a middle school classroom.aaHe filled the soda bottle with liquid nitrogen, put it in a large plastic container and told the students to let him know when 10 minutes had elapsed.aaAlmost on the dot, the bottle exploded, sending ceiling tiles flying and impressing the bejeezus out of the students.aaMy wife, of course, is now looking for a steady supply of liquid nitrogen. :)