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From: arildj#NoSpam.edb.tih.no (Arild Jensen)

A friend of mine got a hold of a large chunck of potassium metal which he brought to a party. He managed to dare another guy to make it explode. The other guy wasn't of the brightest type, and he didn't believe it would explode in contact with water. Anyhow, stupid as he was, he went to the bathroom and thew it into the toilet. Nothing happened, so he went back out again, saying to my friend "Hey, nothing happe...." BANG!!!!!!!!!!!!! The whole bathroom was covered with smoke, and the toilet-seat was completely ruined, cracked and everything. The guy who held the party had to use the neighbors bathroom the following week, until his own one got repaired.

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From: rcousine#NoSpam.malibu.sfu.ca (Ryan John Cousineau)

My High School science courses were similarly interesting.

We had a Science 10 teacher who wasn't usually much for science. As a demonstration, he dropped a blob of sodium into a pan of water. Very impressive. Especially when, with a "pop" the sodium exploded in front of the teacher. He did the demo for the next block with a much smaller piece of sodium...

Another good one was our Chem 12 teacher, who left some disgusting, viscous black mixture on his lab table at the front of the class. We were all busy at our desks, when all of a sudden there was a huge, loud "POP!" and the sucker exploded! Blew black goo up to the ceiling, over the front desks, down to the floor. The stuff on the ceiling never did come off, and some of the students would no longer sit in the front row.

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From: lwric1#NoSpam.MFS04.cc.monash.edu.au (LUKE RICHARDS)

My Yr 12 chemistry teacher (young guy, had only been teaching for about three or four years) told us about the time when he was at College doing his dip ed, and he was working with sodium. He was pouring the kerosine off the oil and down the sink, and there was one chip of sodium left at the bottom of the tin he was emptying (unfortunately for him). Well, it fell out, and because someone had been using the sink before him there was water in there. The sodium ignited, flared and set the kerosine on fire which then raced along the length of the sink and down the plughole with one almighty explosion.

He said he had to have a haircut that night because he lost his fringe and both his eyebrows.

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From: gapv64#NoSpam.cent.gla.ac.uk (Brian Ewins)

Yet another exploding light metal story....

A friend of mine was recently doing a PhD in Chemistry in the building next door to where I am writing this... anyway, his project seemed to involve increasingly more dangerous chemicals for no good reason.

Normally, you sign out all chemicals, and they're all accounted for at the end of the day. But, towards the end of his PhD, he opened one of his cupboards to discover a jar of Sodium that he'd got, never used, and the paperwork (it turned out) for it had since been lost.

This was *2 Kg* of sodium in a big lump.

Sodiums not very dense, that's a big f**ker.

Anyhow, the fate of this lost lump was to accompany some of the students out to a lake in the park, where they threw it...still in its jar (that they managed to get this far at all is kinda surprising because they were all completely blootered at the time).

And then, in a masterpiece of forward planning, they got out the airgun :o) ... 'cos they were all drunk, and the jar (now floating on the lake) was fairly thick, it took quite a few shots to break.

Surprisingly, the thing didn't explode...it just sat there burning. (obviously only the surface of the lump was reacting, but even so...) So they all sat down, cracked open some more beers, and watched the sodium light up the night. Cool.

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From: Andy (e-mail adress removed)

This isn't my E-mail account and my real name may or may not be "Andy".

The title I have given this E-mail is "Pranks...Science related.....Sex...Fettish...mice", It is to do with science and Pranks, but I did the others just to disappoint the perverts among us.

Or maybe I didn't.

Anyway, when I was 15, and at a selective intake school, I came across this rather amazing reaction. Not by chance either, I'd heard of people being maimed by it, so I naturally decided to try it myself. And I wasn't alone, there were about 10 or 12 of us.

Of course Teenage Boys don't just want to do as well as each other, they really want to be the best, but this is where the fun started.

The Reaction was that between Magnesium and Potassium Permanganate, two rather reactive substances. We all know that if you put "Just a little" Magnesium Powder in a Bunsen Burner it burns with a blinding white light. Which is why everyone's Chemistry Department kept it "out of harm's way".

Well basically, they messed up by informing us that our pencil sharpeners were made from a duplex structure of Aluminium and Magnesium. Good move. That ment that our class then had easy access to as many blocks of Magnesium/Aluminium alloy as we cared for. Converting it to powder only took a file and a clamp, and hence we were ready. For what? we didn't know, and we didn't care. Just so long as it made a loud Bang and was painful to look at.

Experiments got bigger and bigger, until the highlight of our pyro career when we decided to wake up about 150 people over a widespread area.

The filing took weeks. The construction hours, the planning days, but at last it was ready. The world's First, Last, and hence Best "G.B.M.F."

The Name was simple to make up- we just took the first letters of each word in the first apt description. ("Wow!" I said when I first saw it, "That really is THE Great British Mother F*&^er!").

The night came when we were going to detonate the GBMF, it was dark, we had an appointment, and it was a nice sleepy Wednesday night. Every where was calm and tranquill. Enter three Cretins cluching bag filled with home made explosives. We intended to light it using a rather pathetic piece of Magnesium Ribbon, which, in turn, would be lit by my own Blow torch.

We had found a nice little spot in a metre wide alley in a residential area. There were lots of alleys near by, which we knew from our after school smoking sessions. These would provide quick get-a-way if required. Our spot to stand was a nice sheltered spot in an alley offset by about five metres on the opposite side of the road.

If there was one thing we had learned from past experiences it was that two things could go wrong with our Bangers- the Fuses and the Casing. We had chosen the best fuse so far for this- Magnesium, and our casing was made out of Plastic lids and Sellotape. More Sellotape than plastic lids, though.

We laid the GBMF down carefully and placed a small Union Jack by it. Cautiously we lit the Blow torch and set off the Magnesium Ribbon. And ran like buggery. We got to our viewing point and braced ourselves.

Five seconds passed, nothing.

Ten seconds passed, nothing.

By twenty seconds we had got bored of bracing and urged "Bob" to go and look.

Bob sneaked out of our safe haven and leaned over to look down the Alley. After one glance he saw that it hadn't gone out as expected, something far worse. He sighed and made the disapointed report to me and "Paul" that:

"It's shit, The casing has caught fire I don't think it's going to G...". Bang would be an understatement. BANG would be an understatement.

BBBBBBBBBBBBb            A            NNNNNn           NNN    'gGGGGGGg`
BBBBBBBBBBBBBb          aAa           NNNNNNn          NNN   gGGGGGGGGGGG
BBB         Bb         aAAAa          NNN  nNn         NNN 'gG
BBB         Bb        aAA AAa         NNN   nNn        NNN gG
BBB         Bp       aAA   AAa        NNN    nNn       NNN gG     GGGGGGG
BBBBBBBBBBBBb       aAA     AAa       NNN     nNn      NNN gG     GGGGGGG
BBBBBBBBBBBB       aAA       AAa      NNN      nNn     NNN gG          GG
BBBBBBBBBBBBb     aAAAAAAAAAAAAAa     NNN       nNn    NNN gG          GG
BBB         Bb   aAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAa    NNN        nNn   NNN gG          GG
BBB         Bb  aAA             AAa   NNN         nNn  NNN `G          GG
BBB         Bp aAA               AAa  NNN          nNn NNN  Ggg.       GG
BBBBBBBBBBBBb aAA                 AAa NNN           nNnNNN   `GGGGGGGGGGG
BBBBBBBBBBBB  AAA                 AAA NNN            nNNNN    `GGGGGGGG'

is a bit more like it. "Bob" Shat one. He Legged it like a bat out of hell all the way down our Alley way, with me and "Paul" close behind. What I had heard and seen was phenominal. That flash would have been bright during the day, but on a night like this........

As we reached the end of our alley the others wanted to keep running, but I slowed us all down to a brisk stroll as we entered the main road. As we walked past the road with the alleys in, a good ten seconds had elapsed since our brief sprint, the whole of the road was out of their houses, peering cautiously down the alley.

On the way back from our appointment, we visited the Alley. On the ground there was scorch marks (which are still there today) that reached a radius of 7 metres, with a little unburnt patch in the middle, showing the circular birthmark of the first, the last and the best GBMF in history.

We did what we aimed to achieve, We caused a commotion, we beat our rivals, and we made our mark (literally) in local folk lore. The Alley is now known amongst the younger members of our community as "The GBMF Alley", and the tale of our achievement is recited to all newcommers to the pyro world along side the all-time classics like "Paul"'s Brother's friend's Cousin who shot a Pool Ball through his friend's Frontdoor (and stairs) from across the road.

Now you've read this Urban legend down to the last paragraph, I'd like to appologise to those of you who read this on the off-chance that it may contain something about Richard Gere.

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From: engine#NoSpam.chac.org (Kip Crosby)

This wasn't strictly a practical joke but it must have been a great sight... and it couldn't be done (legally) today.

My old chemistry prof got an increase in his materials budget (that's how you know how long ago this happened) and decided to replace the materials in his locker. Most of them he was able to dispose of according to standard protocols, but... he had a great big lump of sodium metal (he estimated later about 400g) sitting in light oil in a paint can. Oh bother, he said, what am I going to do with this.

He put it in the trunk of his car and drove to the lake where his outboard was docked, put the sodium carefully in the boat, and grumbled out to mid-lake....unlocked the top of the can....lowered it over the side and TOOK OFF.

About thirty seconds later he cut the motor and looked back. Straight out of the middle of the lake rose a ten-foot conical violet flame....

From: Paul Intihar <pintiha#NoSpam.gwgate1.jhmi.jhu.edu>

Must have been a lump of metalic potassium; sodium erupts in a yellow flame, vis-a-vis the glow of a sodium vapor lamp. Now that the statute of limitations has run out, I can admit to having done the sodium trick and got a nice yellow explosion. Potassium explodes on contact with water also, and, as I recall, gives a purple tinge in the Bunsen burner flame test.

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From: "Scott Jॊger" <syeager#NoSpam.destruction.dyn.ml.org>

I remember my 10th grade highschool chem 1 class. I was a prety intelligent person at the time, for my age. One day we decided to play a prank on the class, scared the shit out of the whole bunch of them. Took some potassium, a beaker, a very large baloon, and a lighter. Stuck some water, and potassium in the baker, and placed the baloon over it.. We all know that will produce hydrogen, so we let the baloon off the beaker, closed it off, and let it be passed around the room for a while. The teacher started to get curious about what we were doing (he couldn't see us doing this). We finally decided to light it up, right in the middle of a small chapter test. Letting the baloon go, someone stuck it with one of those grill lighters. The baloon exploded into a large ball of fire, and an interesting noise followed. The smartass who lit it up had no hair on his arms anymore, and we had no grade in chem 1. ohwell.

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From: iim98jap <iim98jap#NoSpam.student3.lu.se>

When we were at last grades of the secondary school (i.e.- highschool), we developed quite sophisticated theory how to stop the school operate for at least several days. Idea was simple like that: 1) we had to obtain a piece of potassium large enought to obtain REAL rffect, 2) this piece of potassium, then would be wrapped in newspaper paper good enough not to let water to reach it immediately, 3) after wrapping it should be thrown into a closet and flushed down so it would go down the pipes

The idea was that after some time water will reach the potassium, it would start to react releasing heat and hydrogen and blow up the pipes flooding the school with sewage water.

The idea was never implemented. :)

Regards, J.

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From: "Colin Watters" <colin.watters#NoSpam.pandora.be>


Our Chemistry teacher was keen to encourage her pupils and set up a lunch
time chemistry club. She allowed us free use of the school lab while she had
her lunch in the chemical store down the hall. I think she expected us to do
things like glass blowing but oh no... We had found a book on Amateur
Rocketry in the school library (!) and wanted to see if we could make rocket
fuel. The components were powdered zinc and sulphur which the teacher
presumably thought were harmless enough. We mixed up the fuel and filled up
a length of 1/2" pipe mounted in a retort stand. A magnesium ribbon acted as
the fuse. Very spectacular it was. There was a loud whooshhhhh and it
produced a flame about six feet long and three feet in diameter. Sadly our
fun didn't last.. It was hard to get the mixture just right and my friend
decided to test a batch by putting a small ammount into the flame of a
bunsen burner. That would have been ok had he not been holding the mixing
bowl in the other hand. He wasn't badly hurt in the resulting minor
explosion and his eyebrows eventually grew back. 

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