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Old 29 January 2010, 04:40 AM
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Icon81 Professor dies shielding students from explosion

Comment: I am a student at Suffolk County Community College on Long
Island. A fellow classmate explained how her science professor was telling
lab accident stories. One of them went: a professor brought in large
amounts of two materials that when combined create a thermal explosion.
During the class, one container accidentally fell into the other. With
moments to think, the professor dove on top of the materials to save the
first row of students from being killed. He himself died, but the students
got away with minor burns. I looked all over the web and couldn't find a
thing. Is this just a tall tale or did it really happen?
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  #2  
Old 29 January 2010, 11:33 AM
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It brings to mind Louis Slotin's criticality accident- the popular account of it, anyway- but applied to explosives rather than radiation-causing unpleasantness.
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Old 29 January 2010, 01:50 PM
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That came to my mind as well. I have a morbid curiosity when it comes to criticality accidents.
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Old 29 January 2010, 02:17 PM
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Would a professor bring in "large amounts" of these substances? IIRC from my school days, due to budget considerations only the smallest quanties of something that were required to demonstrate the point were used.

So it was quite exciting to see as we did a sugarcube sized lump of nitrocellulose being detonated by a lecturer, but nothing more would have been achieved educationally speaking if a quarter of a tonne had been used instead.

Last edited by Eddylizard; 29 January 2010 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 29 January 2010, 02:19 PM
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I third the parallel to the Louis Slotin incident.
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Old 31 January 2010, 09:04 PM
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I doubt that a school would be careless enough to simply let "one container fall into the other".
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Old 01 February 2010, 09:21 AM
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And I'd doubt that someone experienced in handling fissile material in a laboratory setting would be so careless as to use a screw driver in attempting to achieve a precise fission reaction, and yet here we are... Incredulity does not equate to impossibility.
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Old 01 February 2010, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddylizard View Post
IIRC from my school days, due to budget considerations only the smallest quanties of something that were required to demonstrate the point were used.
At least you go nitrocellulose! Best we got was a golden syrup tin, half-full of water, boiled until the lid shot off.
Plus a video of some caesium in a bath.
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Old 01 February 2010, 12:12 PM
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To be completly honest that was a lecture we attended on entropy at The Royal College of Science in South Kensington.
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  #10  
Old 30 June 2010, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
... With moments to think, the professor dove on top of the materials to save the first row of students from being killed. He himself died, but the students got away with minor burns.
That story doesn't pass my BS detector, but it does remind me of the time (I was about nine years old) when a couple friends and I went "camping" in the woods out behind my house and decided to "cook lunch" by making a campfire and heating a can of soup in it. We didn't bother opening the can first. I learned not to do that, but I also learned that if one is going to do that, to minimize the amount of scalding soup one is coated with one should sit facing the top or bottom, rather than the side of the can.
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