I had a good friend who lived around the corner when I was a kid. We made
"flash powder" by scraping magnesium sheets with the blade removed from a
wood plane. We then ground up the mag. in a mortar and pestle until it was
a power. mixed 50/50 with sulfur, it would burn instantaneously with a
bright flash. Like the photographers "flash powder of old. In a capped
piece of steel pipe it made quite a "bomb.
It would leave a 6" crater in an asphalt street!
One year we threw a 1 lb. chunk of metallic sodium off the end of the
Dana Point, Ca. pier.(named after Charles Henry Dana). The Pier is located
just around the south point of "Dana Point" and there are 40 or 50 ft. high
cliffs all around. When a large chunk of metallic sodium hits water, there
is a vigorous (to say the least) chemical reaction which generates a lot of
heat and releases lots of hydrogen gas. The heat ignites the hydrogen which
explodes and breaks up the chunk of Sodium into multiple pieces which are
thrown randomly about Each piece , in turn, generates its own blast.
What you get is a series of multiple blasts, each generating its own
"children" randomly walking about on the surface of the water. They
continue for maybe 2 or 3 minutes.
We had thrown in 1/4 lb. pieces at a time previously, but never 1 whole
lb. at a time. The explosion and sound of 1/4 lb. is loud. A whole lb. at
once in an anchorage with cliffs around it sounded like a war had started!
Boy! We high tailed it out of there fast! It was pretty spectacular. Lights
in all of the houses on the cliffs started coming on. We were out of there!.
----- Original Message -----
From: Bill Babcock <BillB@bnj.com>
To: Bob Lang <LANG@isis.mit.edu>; Susan Hensley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, February 04, 2000 11:42 AM
Subject: RE: South of the Border...was Re: 'M80's'
> What a bunch of amateurs. I'm a professional mischief maker, I probably
> spent three quarters of my intellectual powers as a youth researching,
> experimenting and refining various and sundry methods of blowing stuff up
> sending it high into the air (this was reflected in my grades).
> Carbide (as in prince albert cans and carbide cannons) makes acetylene
> gas--no mystery there. It's much more effective as an explosive when mixed
> with oxygen instead of air. Which makes the welding rig in all of our
> garages the capable source of much mayhem. I was present (in the role of
> tutor) when a friend filled a three foot beachball with the stuff and blew
> the neighbors porch right off the house (an errant wind and too long a
> not an intentional act). Don't try this at home kids--a good size
> will make a sound that surpasses anything you'll ever hear with fireworks
> dynamite. Cops will come for miles and miles.
> M80's, silver salutes, cherry bombs, etc all make great propellants for a
> homemade mortar consisting of a buried length of chain link fence tubing,
> can of tomato paste, and several of the explosives listed above. light,
> can, run like hell.
> I was arrested at age 12 for wounding a flock of teenagers who insisted on
> standing (vs. hiding behind the rocks as I was) when I fired a three foot,
> zinc and sulphur fueled rocket with a nozzle design that was, shall we
> on the aggressive side of acceptable formulas. The cops picked me up
> hours later at home--I got to ride in a car with no doorhandles. I had to
> report to the fire marshal once a week for two years.
> I taught some friends how to build a bazooka (pipe, empty CO2 cartridges
> with the neck sawn off to make a 1/3 area nozzle, filled with sugar and
> Sodium Nitrate) and we used them to knock down an abandoned brick building
> on an island in Boston Harbor.
> I devised the demonic double balloon--an outer balloon filled with silver
> paint and an inner balloon of acetylene/oxygen. You can turn a lot of
> blue on one side in no time with one of those.
> I could go on, but the statute of limitations or personal revenge for
> juvenile criminal mischief of this magnitude might extend past 30 years.
> I'm all better now.