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This is a question Pointless Experiments

Pavlov's Frog writes: I once spent 20 minutes with my eyes closed to see what it was like being blind. I smashed my knee on the kitchen cupboard, and decided I'd be better off deaf as you can still watch television.

(, Thu 24 Jul 2008, 12:00)
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Big Bangs
At the tender age of 17 I began working in the laboratory of a cardboard factory. The tasks of testing water, industrial effluent and cardboard were OK to start with, but then my mind began to wander… Lunchtimes were spent making assorted incendiary and explosive mixtures that were tested on the roof or in a massive coal bunker.

Once I managed to fill the lab with a dense white fog whilst trying to make ammonium chloride – I just about managed to clear the air as it were before everyone returned from lunch by turning on all the fans, opening all the doors and flapping around with a sheet of cardboard like a demented thing!

A couple of years later I changed jobs and ended up at BOC where I had access to a whole new range of substances to mess with. Hydrogen is pretty deadly so I didn’t mess with that. Carbon Dioxide however goes straight from frozen solid form to gaseous without an intervening liquid phase at normal pressure. This means it increases in volume by a remarkable degree (OK I have forgotten the exact percentage!).

So a rubber industrial tube of about 2” internal diameter around a foot long was procured and stuffed full of dry ice. Clamps applied to both ends and it was stuffed in a cupboard near the laboratory and forgotten about for a few hours.

Our afternoon tea break was interrupted by a loud Ka-Boom. My colleagues’ faces drained of all colour. The manager grabbed a fire extinguisher and warned us to stay put whilst he investigated. He was met by a bunch of guys coming from the other direction and after inspecting every pipe and gas cylinder pronounced the area safe. The cause of the bang was never discovered.

Inspired by the success I took a large block of dry ice home wrapped in several layers of newspaper. Out came the tube and once it was stuffed with the dry ice and clamped it was carried out to the woods behind my parent’s home. My brother & I nonchalantly strolled up and down awaiting the inevitable bang. Minutes went slowly by and after half an hour we turned our attention to the cricket match taking place on the playing fields next to the wood. The bowler was just starting his run up and the tube blew with a deafening bang that reverberated off the houses like a double thunderclap. The bowler halted and the players just stood in stunned silence. People started coming out of their houses and looking over the fence. We retrieved the clamps for later use and scarpered!
(, Thu 31 Jul 2008, 13:11, Reply)

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