Scientists Test “Foolproof” Dynamite

I'm sure these Du Pont scientists knew exactly what they were doing. But I still think I would have backed up a bit as they were doing this. Image from eBay. Article from Chicago Tribune, Jan. 23, 1935:

     Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 21, 2012
     Category: Explosives

Apparently the science of protecting one's behind hadn't been invented yet. I'd have gone for mounting the hammer on a pivot and a looooong piece of string. But I'm no scientist, just a guy who's still in possession of his posterior.
Posted by Robb of Warren on 04/21/12 at 11:58 AM
Actually, it is very safe. It is now known as Ammonium Nitrate, and it is the same Nitrogen fertilizer you can buy for your garden. When used for blasting, it is usually mixed with fuel oil, creating ANFO, which is still very safe (and cheap). Shock won't set it off unless it's strongly confined, like in a borehole in a mine (or in a steel barrel in the back of a truck) and you still need a High Explosive to trigger it. But it's definitely safe for ordinary handling (and cheap) which is why it's so popular. The only drawback is the noxious fumes after the blast. Did I mention that it's cheap?
Posted by Roland on 04/21/12 at 02:17 PM
Ah, the terorist's standard. Little did they know then the evil in the hearts of some men now.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 04/21/12 at 03:23 PM
In my automation course we were taught operator safety. Our prof started the lecture by stating "There is no such thing as FOOL PROOF. Fools are geniuses at bypassing safety measures".
A case in point: We installed a machine where the workmen already knew the safety protocall's but the SAFETY OFFICER gave them a SAFETY talk. He stepped onto the reject scale and was rejected!
Posted by BMN on 04/21/12 at 04:08 PM
I have relatives who would do this with bullets. Never lost a relative.
Posted by agentj on 04/21/12 at 04:15 PM
Agentj, is that good, bad, or indifferent?
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 04/21/12 at 05:50 PM
I can understand the guys in lab coats there 'cause they're standing by their claim but what's the other guy's excuse?
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 04/21/12 at 11:36 PM
I seem to remember hearing that old TNT sweats out nitroglycerine, which is an impact-sensitive explosive. It might have been fun to see them do this with very old TNT...
Posted by Kyle Morgan on 04/22/12 at 09:09 AM
Well the best way to find if something is fool proof is to hand it to a fool. Just because someone has a degree doesn't mean they are not a fool. And just because they didn't die doesn't mean what they did wasn't stupid.
Posted by Baughbe on 04/22/12 at 10:55 AM
Kyle Morgan, you are thinking of dynamite. If you leave dynamite sitting around for years the nitroglycerin can separate from the diatomaceous earth and create a hazard. TNT is an entirely different explosive that does not contain nitroglycerin.

For others, of course they studied ammonium nitrate thoroughly before the photographed demonstration.

By the way, it is a pretty common event for someone to come into a police station, plonk something down on the counter, and then say they think it's a bomb. The police just WUV it when people do that....

-Cougar :{)
Posted by Cougar Allen on 04/22/12 at 12:05 PM
I used to work in a fertilizer warehouse (ah, the joys of working with poop all day), and we had pallets of ammonium nitrate. That stuff seemed a lot less hazardous than the diatomacious earth that has sharp particulates that will make you sneeze blood if you handle it without a respirator.
Posted by Miles on 04/22/12 at 12:42 PM
It is not hazardous in its inert state Miles, Just be careful what you mix with it.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 04/22/12 at 07:05 PM
Foolproof in 1935 was not foolproof in 1947:
Texas City disaster - the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history -April 16, 1947 - began with a mid-morning fire on a boat docked in the Port of Texas City - detonated approximately 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate["nitro ammonia"] - resulting fires and explosions killed at least 581 people - only one member of the Texas City fire department survived.
Posted by tadchem on 03/15/13 at 01:05 PM
My uncle (a career engineer) used to say "If you make something foolproof, evolution will quickly produce a superior fool."
Posted by tadchem on 03/15/13 at 01:09 PM
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