chatter.chaboud.com

1/24/2005

Simple measures for more deadly weaponry made interesting through obfuscating terminology…

Filed under: — site admin @ 3:21 pm

This terribly uninformed article touts the nanotechnological interests of the United States Department of Defense in reference to “superthermites,” otherwise known as Metastable Intermolecular Composite, or MIC, materials, used in new incendiary bombs.

To clear up a few points before the reader begins to believe that the US DoD has begun work on bombs that drop incendiary nanites on crowds of unsuspecting would-be opposition voters, a thermite reaction is a reaction in which aluminum is oxidized by an oxide of another metal. The most commonly used thermite reaction is with iron oxide, and can produce temperatures in excess of 3000°C (over 5400°F). The formula for this reaction is written as follows:

Fe2O3 + 2Al → Al2O3 + 2Fe

These reactions were originally used for railway repairs, as a small amount of powder could be placed accurately and used for welding in-place. As this reaction carries its own oxygen, it does not need to be performed in open air. The reader is encouraged to try this reaction at home, possibly above stores of fuel, stacks of paper, or the hood of a car.

Further examination of the materials in question shows that, while producing quicker reactions than similar thermitic reactions, “superthermites” are merely thermitic powders with very small particle sizes, on the order of eight nanometers. As with any powder-based chemical reaction, smaller particle sizes lead to greater surface area and, thus, greater reaction rates. The reader is encouraged to conduct the following experiment:

For this at-home experiment, you will need two packets of powdered creamer and one cigarette lighter. Conduct this experiment as far from parental supervision and telephones as is possible. Boy Scout trips and school-yards are perfect.

  1. Pour one packet of powdered creamer out onto a table, pack it tightly, and attempt to light it with the lighter. This should prove relatively difficult.
  2. Open the other packet and hold it in one hand while lighting the lighter in the other.
  3. Throw the powder straight up into the air while holding onto the packet. It helps to have cupped the packet to allow the powder to easily exit.
  4. Hold the lighter to the bottom of the cloud of creamer.

If conducted properly, you should see the airborn creamer burn a bright orange.

For those concerned with factual accuracy, MOAB stands for “Massive Ordinance Air Burst,” rather than “mother of all bombs.”

What one can take away from the linked article, other than the need for John Gartner, the author, to spend more than three minutes fact-checking future articles, is that the development of weapons chemically similar to those used by the Nazis in World War II is being subsidized by the United States Department of Defense. It would be more fair to suspect that the US DoD has begun work on bombs that drop incendiary powders on crowds of unsuspecting would-be opposition voters.

The moral implications of this work are left as an excercise for the reader…

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