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Catawampus
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Catawampus » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:33 pm

Dave wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:46 pm
Just plain ammonium nitrate (without an added hydrocarbon fuel) can explode, if sufficiently mistreated. If it's heated enough, it can decompose explosively... that's what happened in the Texas City disaster I was alluding to (a ship loaded with AN caught fire, burned hot enough to boil the water around itself, and eventually exploded and set fire to a lot of the city).

The big risk in the situation AnotherFairport fan was referring to, would have been the possibility of a fire. Oil-soaked AN fertilizer which caught fire (for any reason) might well have burned hot enough to trigger that sort of explosive decomposition... it might not have been as potent an explosion as a triggered detonation but it could still have completely ruined the day (and all subsequent ones) for anyone nearby.
Ammonium nitrate has a few added quirks that make it more unpredictable, too. Pure ammonium nitrate is neither flammable nor explosive. If it gets heated enough, though, it will decompose into things that are not ammonium nitrate, and that's where the situation gets weird. Each ammonium nitrate molecule has a choice of five different decomposition pathways, each ending in a different set of products. Only one of those pathways, the one that ends up producing oxygen gas, is a serious fire or explosive risk. The other four can produce some unpleasant stuff, but not stuff that's quite so lively.

The problem is that nobody's quite clear on just what influences ammonium nitrate to "choose" a particular decomposition pathway, so we can't really predict whether it will take the earth-shattering kaboom path or not. And since different molecules of ammonium nitrate in the same batch might take totally different pathways, sometimes the products of one molecule's decomposition will interfere unpredictably with the products of another molecule's oxygen-producing pathway and make it less likely to blow up. . .or not.

Even if enough of the molecules in a pile of ammonium nitrate do take the oxygen-producing pathway, it's usually more of a fire hazard than an explosive hazard. You'll only get the explosions when the stuff is heated up in a confined space (of course, a big enough pile of ammonium nitrate can generate its own confined space by the mass of the outer layers of the pile confining the middle layers). When you mix other materials in, then things get even more confused and possibly lively. You really don't want to be around ammonium nitrate if it has been contaminated with sulfides, for example.
GlytchMeister wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:47 pm
The fertilizer needs to be in a specific configuration (pellets with holes, I think) but that’s not too difficult to do.
It doesn't need to be, but it makes it more effective.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by Atomic » Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:47 am

And of course, it's even worse when the stuff getting all poofy are actual explosives! During WW 1, an ammunition ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia went kaboom - 3 Kiloton worth -- the largest non-nuclear explosion ever prior to nukes. Hiroshima was 14 Kt, Nagasaki was 20 Kt by comparison. If I'm reading it right the Texas City disaster involved 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Catawampus » Sat Jun 22, 2019 5:13 am

Atomic wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:47 am
And of course, it's even worse when the stuff getting all poofy are actual explosives! During WW 1, an ammunition ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia went kaboom - 3 Kiloton worth -- the largest non-nuclear explosion ever prior to nukes.
On the "plus" side, due to all of the people ashore sitting and watching events through their windows and then getting their eyeballs shredded by flying bits of glass, the field of eye surgery was given a huge number of test cases that advanced knowledge of eye treatment a good deal. Yay?
Atomic wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:47 am
If I'm reading it right the Texas City disaster involved 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate.
That was the first ship there that blew up. Then a second ship with about half the amount of ammonium nitrate and a huge pile of sulphur also blew up, along with lots of storage facilities on shore catching fire or exploding, because there wasn't enough excitement going around already.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by lake_wrangler » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:58 am

Atomic wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:47 am
And of course, it's even worse when the stuff getting all poofy are actual explosives! During WW 1, an ammunition ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia went kaboom - 3 Kiloton worth -- the largest non-nuclear explosion ever prior to nukes. Hiroshima was 14 Kt, Nagasaki was 20 Kt by comparison.
For the longest time, this was all I knew about the Halifax harbor explosion:



Part of the Heritage Minutes series. Just watching it now still brings tears to my eyes.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by lake_wrangler » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:00 am

Now that I've replied topically, here's what I came here to post:

Talk about a tongue twister!


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Re: More Stuff

Post by AnotherFairportfan » Sat Jun 22, 2019 4:04 pm

lake_wrangler wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:58 am
Atomic wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:47 am
And of course, it's even worse when the stuff getting all poofy are actual explosives! During WW 1, an ammunition ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia went kaboom - 3 Kiloton worth -- the largest non-nuclear explosion ever prior to nukes. Hiroshima was 14 Kt, Nagasaki was 20 Kt by comparison.
For the longest time, this was all I knew about the Halifax harbor explosion:



Part of the Heritage Minutes series. Just watching it now still brings tears to my eyes.
From Wikipedia:
The death toll could have been worse had it not been for the self-sacrifice of an Intercolonial Railway dispatcher, Patrick Vincent (Vince) Coleman, operating at the railyard about 750 feet (230 m) from Pier 6, where the explosion occurred. He and his co-worker, William Lovett, learned of the dangerous cargo aboard the burning Mont-Blanc from a sailor and began to flee. Coleman remembered that an incoming passenger train from Saint John, New Brunswick, was due to arrive at the railyard within minutes. He returned to his post alone and continued to send out urgent telegraph messages to stop the train. Several variations of the message have been reported, among them this from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic: "Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys." Coleman's message was responsible for bringing all incoming trains around Halifax to a halt. It was heard by other stations all along the Intercolonial Railway, helping railway officials to respond immediately. Passenger Train No. 10, the overnight train from Saint John, is believed to have heeded the warning and stopped a safe distance from the blast at Rockingham, saving the lives of about 300 railway passengers. Coleman was killed at his post as the explosion ripped through the city.[74] He was honoured with a Heritage Minute in the 1990s, inducted into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame in 2004, and a new Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry was named for him in 2018.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Catawampus » Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:20 am

lake_wrangler wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:00 am
Now that I've replied topically, here's what I came here to post:

Talk about a tongue twister!

I learned written English long before I learned spoken English. When I did finally get to hear spoken English, it was at a point in my life when I was traveling constantly. So I ended up hearing a few English words spoken in one place, and then others spoken in a different place, and yet others in some third place, and all of it spoken by people for whom English was at best a second language. So my pronunciation sometimes ends up having four or five different dialects in one sentence, making words that ordinarily aren't supposed to sound alike do so or ones that are supposed to be similar end up sounding different.

My philology professor was totally fascinated by me.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by lake_wrangler » Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:59 pm

Catawampus wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:20 am

I learned written English long before I learned spoken English. When I did finally get to hear spoken English, it was at a point in my life when I was traveling constantly. So I ended up hearing a few English words spoken in one place, and then others spoken in a different place, and yet others in some third place, and all of it spoken by people for whom English was at best a second language. So my pronunciation sometimes ends up having four or five different dialects in one sentence, making words that ordinarily aren't supposed to sound alike do so or ones that are supposed to be similar end up sounding different.

My philology professor was totally fascinated by me.
Beware that he's not in fact a supervillain, bent in destroying the world by making the English language incomprehensible...

...

Well...

More incomprehensible, anyway... :P :mrgreen: :lol:

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Re: More Stuff

Post by Catawampus » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:09 pm

lake_wrangler wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:59 pm
Beware that he's not in fact a supervillain, bent in destroying the world by making the English language incomprehensible...

...

Well...

More incomprehensible, anyway... :P :mrgreen: :lol:
It would need to be a rather long-term plan, seeing as how I took her class a quarter century ago. I'd be more worried about the gaggle of grad-student gals who are studying me currently. They're too chipper to be up to any good.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by TazManiac » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:10 pm

Atomic wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:47 am
And of course, it's even worse when the stuff getting all poofy are actual explosives! During WW 1, an ammunition ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia went kaboom - 3 Kiloton worth -- the largest non-nuclear explosion ever prior to nukes. Hiroshima was 14 Kt, Nagasaki was 20 Kt by comparison. If I'm reading it right the Texas City disaster involved 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate.
We had the WWII Port Chicago disaster to recall, out here on the West Coast; the resulting (larger) second explosion is to have been calculated as causing the equivalent of a 3.4 Earthquake on the Richter Scale.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by GlytchMeister » Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:54 pm

I think it is worth noting that the largest explosion mankind has ever mustered, the Tsar Bomba, has a yield of 50 Megatons of TNT.

The Krakatoa Eruption released about 200.

And the approximate yield of the Yellowstone Supervolcano is about... 875,000.
He's mister GlytchMeister, he's mister code
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Atomic » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:22 am

Taz - thank you for reminding me about Port Chicago. All I could think of at the time were Halifax and Texas City, but couldn't recall the third.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Dave » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:19 pm

GlytchMeister wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:54 pm
I think it is worth noting that the largest explosion mankind has ever mustered, the Tsar Bomba, has a yield of 50 Megatons of TNT.

The Krakatoa Eruption released about 200.

And the approximate yield of the Yellowstone Supervolcano is about... 875,000.
And they estimate the Chixulub impactor at about 100,000,000 megatons. And, it seemed to have hit one of the more sensitive spots on the planet: lots of gypsum in the seafloor materials, hence lots of sulfur released into the atmosphere as vapor, hence acid rain and (eventually) a sulfate-particle nuclear winter to help put out all the fires.

Definitely would have spoiled your day.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by GlytchMeister » Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:57 pm

I wonder how many megatons were released in the Theia Impact...
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Dave » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:50 pm

GlytchMeister wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:57 pm
I wonder how many megatons were released in the Theia Impact...
I can't count that high ;)

There's been some interesting press lately, about the possible aftermath of that particular big Kaboom. Some research now suggests that the impact may actually have vaporized most of Theia and a lot of the Earth. The vapor pressure of the vaporized rock would have been high enough to make the whole mess expand... up to the point where hot vapor was so high that it went into orbit. There would have been a huge donut-shaped cloud of gaseous rock vapor, slowly cooling and condensing, for decades... the Moon may have condensed out of this cloud.

This theory would explain why the isotope balances of the Earth and the Moon are so very similar - their current forms both condensed from the same big hot cloud, very well mixed (shaken, stirred, and what have you). (Think "a rain of magma droplets pouring down on your head for 50 years" to get an idea of what it would have been like.)

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Re: More Stuff

Post by Bookworm » Thu Jun 27, 2019 10:26 pm

lake_wrangler wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:00 am
Now that I've replied topically, here's what I came here to post:

Talk about a tongue twister!

Um.. Query and Very _do_ rhyme, unless you're from Glasgow or a Geordie.
I'll get a life when it's proven and substantiated to be better than what I'm currently experiencing.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by Dave » Thu Jun 27, 2019 10:56 pm

Bookworm wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 10:26 pm
Um.. Query and Very _do_ rhyme, unless you're from Glasgow or a Geordie.
I've always heard it as "kwee-ry" (which doesn't theme with "veh-ry"). I'm a Philadelphian by birth, a Rochesterian (upstate New York) during college, and a Californian thereafter.

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/ ... an/query_1

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/pro ... lish/query

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Re: More Stuff

Post by AnotherFairportfan » Thu Jun 27, 2019 11:27 pm

Dave wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 10:56 pm
Bookworm wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 10:26 pm
Um.. Query and Very _do_ rhyme, unless you're from Glasgow or a Geordie.
I've always heard it as "kwee-ry" (which doesn't theme with "veh-ry"). I'm a Philadelphian by birth, a Rochesterian (upstate New York) during college, and a Californian thereafter.

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/ ... an/query_1

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/pro ... lish/query
I don't hear/say it that distinctly, but i agree they don't exactly rhyme - and that's South Carolina by way of Chicago and Cleveland.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Alkarii » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:13 am

After watching a video about a how someone managed to take a picture of the "Elephant's Foot" in Chernobyl, I ended up reading more about corium.

Why is it that those videos about the creepiest Wikipedia pages never include that article in their lists? That's something I wouldn't want to be anywhere near. And by near, I mean within a few dozen miles.
There is no such thing as a science experiment gone wrong.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by Dave » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:53 am

Alkarii wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:13 am
Why is it that those videos about the creepiest Wikipedia pages never include that article in their lists? That's something I wouldn't want to be anywhere near. And by near, I mean within a few dozen miles.
I don't personally find the idea of corium to be creepy.

Downright scary, yes. It took a lot of energy, in a very small area, to create stuff like that.

As to being around it... well, you could start small, if you like, and maybe desensitize yourself to some of the concern :twisted: . Look around on eBay for pseudo-scientific things called "quantum energy pendants" or the like. They're made out of a special rock which is claimed to emit negative ions and healthful, rejuvinating energy. Some of them are supposed to protect you from hazardous man-made electromagnetic fields.

They do emit negatively-charged particles, it's true... beta particles (high-energy electrons). The pendants are mildly radioactive, as the rock from which they're made is relatively rich in thorium. Unlike low-energy negative ions like you'd experience after a nice cleansing rain shower, these beta electrons move at a good fraction of the speed of light, and can penetrate the skin. By one report I read, if you wear one of these pendants next to your skin constantly you can get enough of a radiation burn to slightly redden the skin... definitely exceeding NRC standards for civilian radiation exposure.

They give off a measurable amount of gamma-ray energy as well. I measured the spectrum with my homebrew scintilation detector... gamma-ray frequencies characteristic of thorium-228, and its "daughter" isotopes show up clearly.

Now that's creepy... the fact that they're a radiation hazard, and are being deliberately sold to people as claimed protection against a different (and rather dubious) hazard. Not as bad as the Radium Ore Revigator sold a century ago, but not a great product.

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