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  #1  
Old 25 January 2016, 03:55 AM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Default Why we picture bombs as round black balls with a burning wick

In 1920, the popular newspaper comic strip Jerry on the Job was adapted by Bray Studios into a few animated films. In “The Bomb Idea,” Jerry and another character read that “Bolsheviki” are on the loose throughout the country, and that all citizens should be on alert. Shortly after, a man arrives carrying a heavy, black sphere. Jerry and his friend panic, assuming the item is a bomb, when eventually it is revealed to just be a bowling ball. But it’s clear that by 1920, everyone knew what a bomb looked like.

Except, by 1920, bombs didn’t really look like that anymore. ...

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles...a-burning-wick
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  #2  
Old 25 January 2016, 11:59 AM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Similarly, hand grenades have not looked like the 'pineapple' type for a long time, and probably were never the majority type overall in the world. But a lot of US soldiers used them in WWI and WWII, and so that is what we generally think of as a hand grenade (unless we think of Germans throwing them, and then we imagine the 'stick' type).
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  #3  
Old 25 January 2016, 01:08 PM
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Don Enrico Don Enrico is offline
 
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Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
...(unless we think of Germans throwing them, and then we imagine the 'stick' type).
While in Germany, the "pineapple" is the iconic image for the Handgranate.
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  #4  
Old 25 January 2016, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
The idea of a string fuse coming out of the bomb is really a fantasy.
No it isn't, that's how the first hand grenades looked. That's probably the main source for our image of a cartoon bomb as the article itself notes that the first appearances in media had the bomb being thrown at the targets, not fired out of a mortar.
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  #5  
Old 25 January 2016, 04:12 PM
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Baseball

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Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
No it isn't, that's how the first hand grenades looked. That's probably the main source for our image of a cartoon bomb as the article itself notes that the first appearances in media had the bomb being thrown at the targets, not fired out of a mortar.
I agree:



Next is Napoleonic era:



I just popped in to add a few points:

- first, I wear a grenade in a ball shape with flames coming out the top on my uniform. It is historic.

- second, we still use "string" coming out of the top of explosives. It is less string than a cord full of a burning compound that burns at a consistent rate. but it looks and acts like a small rope. So, burning string still occurs in the 21st century.

- finally, the author of that article makes the absurd comment that bombs did not look like spheres with wicks for 50 years before the cartoon, but last year we had a boy arrested for a homemade clock and I don't think bombs have ever looked like a clock except in TV and movies.
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  #6  
Old 25 January 2016, 04:36 PM
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I'm sure that clocks of some kind have been used for explosive devices at some point, but I agree that they probably have looked anything like they are represented in the media, especially not the visible countdown part. The only exception I would put to to that is when the bomb maker has little to know practical knowledge and/or is making the device specifically to look like a classic bomb to scare people.

Also, I probably shouldn't have been Google searching for using clocks to make bombs while I had pages about the Oregon standoff open.
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  #7  
Old 02 February 2016, 05:38 PM
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This just reminds me of a stand up comic I saw on TV once. He was joking about a sign at the airport illustrating the items you can't being through the security checkpoint -- one of the items shown on the sign was "bomb". There is of course just the ridiculousness of having to even mention that bombs cannot be brought through security, but then he went on to point out that the bomb on the sign was illustrated with an old-timey ball with a wick type of bomb. "What terrorist is still using that bomb?" he said.

Of course that pictogram was used on the sign because it's instantly recognizable as a bomb by everyone, but if this comedian is any indication pop culture has realized bombs don't really look like that anymore. They have a big digital countdown and color coded wires, of course.
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  #8  
Old 02 February 2016, 06:13 PM
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GenYus, I am not so sure of that. Of course, the most common bombs nowadays are pressure sensitive ones, so that they go off when there is a target passing by, as with IEDs. Another very common method is to have a received you can use to trigger the bomb, like a cell phone - call the number and BOOM. However, if you want a timer, an electronic clock is cheap, reliable and easy to incorporate into the circuit that sets the bomb off - and besides the fact that the clock already has the digital display incorporated into its circuitry, it is really, really handy when you are setting the bomb to go off when the alarm function goes off to be able to see what time you are actually setting. Bombmakers who guess about such things don;t have long careers.
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Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Of course that pictogram was used on the sign because it's instantly recognizable as a bomb by everyone, but if this comedian is any indication pop culture has realized bombs don't really look like that anymore. They have a big digital countdown and color coded wires, of course.
It may be, though, that this is a symbol set by the international agency that sets standard signs. They have all sorts of symbols that are adopted with the notion that even illiterate people can easily learn them and understand what is meant. Hence we have the symbols on Men's rooms without a skirt and the symbols on women's rooms with a skirt - of course, in some cultures skirts do not differentiate, but it is easy enough to learn and probably seemed better than showing figures with and without breasts (or even worse ...).
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  #9  
Old 02 February 2016, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
This just reminds me of a stand up comic I saw on TV once. He was joking about a sign at the airport illustrating the items you can't being through the security checkpoint -- one of the items shown on the sign was "bomb". There is of course just the ridiculousness of having to even mention that bombs cannot be brought through security ...
I know, and you can then buy them openly in duty free! It's absurd.
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  #10  
Old 02 February 2016, 06:23 PM
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I think he's talking about the digital read outs indicating how long until the bomb goes off, not the ones with a clock.

Seaboe
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  #11  
Old 02 February 2016, 06:37 PM
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That is correct. A countdown timer to 0, rather than a clock with an alarm set.
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  #12  
Old 11 March 2016, 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
No it isn't, that's how the first hand grenades looked. That's probably the main source for our image of a cartoon bomb as the article itself notes that the first appearances in media had the bomb being thrown at the targets, not fired out of a mortar.
I've read several times that the American WWII hand grenade was designed to be the size of a baseball (here's one example: https://medium.com/war-is-boring/ame...0be#.7uwyd7tf7 ), but it seems from your link that this design has been used for centuries. Perhaps the baseball size and weight was based on the perfect size for a hand grenade?
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  #13  
Old 11 March 2016, 04:08 AM
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Perhaps it's just a case of parallel evolution as that's roughly the right size and shape to be easy to thrown accurately?
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  #14  
Old 20 March 2016, 01:30 PM
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Indeed. Smaller than a baseball = less explosive power. Bigger than a baseball (even if you ignore weight and range) = harder to grip securely while hurling. Of course there's the softball, but when was the last time (as it relates to softball vs. baseball) that anyone threw a softball at 95 mph?
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  #15  
Old 20 March 2016, 01:59 PM
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I would submit that weight and size of the grenade were major factors, not for their explosion, but for the soldier carrying them.

Grenades are carried, as with other ammunition, so, if we dedicated 2 kg to grenades on the soldier, as part of a basic load, we would get 2 massive 1 kg grenades. These would inhibit his entry and exit from any vehicle (because they are worn on the kit), and provide him with 2 occasions to use them for effect. (With bigger blast potentially causing friendly casualties)

Or, we could give him 8 x 250 gram grenades. Much smaller, can be spread around the kit, not adding as much bulk in limited places. Plus, the soldier would have eight occasions to use the grenades to effect. (also smaller blast reduces the chance of friendly casualties).

While that may not have been true in WW1 and before, I suspect that by WW2 and Korea, those considerations would have been part of the design plan.
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