Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

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I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Saturday, February 28, 2009


I already blogged that by the time I was a senior in high school the teachers were pretty much fed up with me and three of my friends. So much so that we had to plead with some teachers to let us into their classes. The Chemistry teacher couldn't take us in his class because we had already had it and did well in it. But he, being the great guy he was and my wrestling coach who didn't want me to be inelligible to wrestle, let us take a Chemistry lab that he called Chemistry II.

I'll give you an experiment we did in the lab and the results of it---I am only going to give you one and you'll know why after you read this.

You know what that is right? If not it is splitting the hydrogen and oxygen ions in water by the addition of electricity. You know---it takes energy to split molecules---and it takes energy to put them back together---but we'll get to that later.

We used a large car battery and ran the positive wire into a large container of water and up a post holding a one liter flask completely filled with water so we would know when it was full of Oxygen. We ran the negative wire into the water and up a post that held a 1/2 liter flask full of water so we would know when it was full of hydrogen. I just wanted you to know that we didn't produce lots of hydrogen and oxygen but we did produce the amounts given above.

Now the true experiment began. It takes energy of some sort to put hydrogen and oxygen together to produce water right---that is correct---it does. So we carefully transferred the hydrogen from one flask and the oxygen from the other flask into a two liter flask. To do this we filled the two liter flask with water and turned it upside down in the water. We took the hydrogen flask and turned it onto its side and let the bubbles of hydrogen rise up through the water into the two liter flask. We did the same with the oxygen. So we had exactly the correct proportions of hydrogen and oxygen to make a liter and a half of pure uncontaminated water.

So here are the four of us (unsupervised) getting ready to recombine the elements and prove our theory that the water would be absolutely pure. We were standing closely around the flask so we could all observe what happened - very closely. I lit a match and tossed it into the flask - there was a deafening explosion - the windows and the frames of the windows blew out of the building and landed in tact on the lawn outside (intact is the key word here). The flask had turned into absolutely pure white powder---not a single shard survived. The four of us were still standing around where the flask had been - we were all amazed to be alive - there was a ringing in our ears but we could still hear (amazingly). We were all deathly white and scared to death.

All of the teachers in the school (all of them) ran into the lab to see what had happened. We told them part of the story and they nearly died. We spent the next day putting the windows back in the lab and then went back to our experiments with all of the adults involved knowing full well that any future electrolisis experiments needed to be very small and very carefully supervised.

To this day I have no knowledge of why the blast didn't kill all four of us - the chemistry teacher said something about being at the very center of the blast probably saved our lives. I also had no idea that the flask would turn to powder---it could have just blown apart and shrapnelled us to death. We counted or blessings that we didn't get kicked out of school and didn't die and went back to work.

Our next experiment was to make black powder and determine how good of a blasting agent it was - we compared it to dynamite. You don't even want to know where we got the dynamite but I can assure you that black powder does not even come close to having the power that dynamite does. We also determined that ammonium nitrate soaked in diesel fuel (today this is called prell) would explode with the exact same force of the blasting agent used to set it off. The rest of the world figured this out two years later in experiments carried out by Thiokol. Damn if we'd of had any brains we could have been rich - we were just afraid we wouldn't gradute if we told anyone.

There were other experiments and they were all very successful - and we all got A's out of the class.


Native Minnow said...

Could you imagine any of that happening today? You'd be branded as terrorists.

Nene said...

Holy cow!

Dee Ice Hole said...

We weren't trying to blow up the school - it was simply an experiment gone bad. No one ever expected we might try to reunite the atoms - especially not with an extremely small hydrogen bomb.

Amber said...

good grief! what a scary result! I'm glad you were all okay! I think it's really cool you liked and were so good at Chemistry - Chemistry was a REALLY hard subject for me I just couldn't seem to remember all the rules.