Re: HUMOR: Life extension is a tool of Satan!

From: James Rogers (
Date: Thu Feb 22 2001 - 17:15:23 MST

At 08:10 PM 2/21/2001 -0800, Spike Jones wrote:
>Consider this molecule: CH2NO3CHNO3CH2NO3,
>carries a lotta oxygen, carries nitrogen with it, so that if this
>liquid instantly converts to nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water,
>{which happens in the absence of any gas} you get the shock
>waves associated with the kerBOOM. The fact that nitroglycerine
>is carrying its own oxygen is the key to its violent behavior.

This is a poor characterization of the process. Sugar carries a lot of its
own oxygen, yet sugar doesn't detonate. Most explosives are characterized
by oxygen being chemically attached to a molecule with lots of carbon and
some hydrogen, but with the oxygen and hydrocarbons being separated by
atoms with strong affinities for neither oxygen nor hydrocarbons, typically
nitrogen. Basically, you have oxidation neutral atoms keeping the oxygen
and hydrocarbon at arms length from each other. It takes a relatively
small kick for the oxygen to gain enough energy to bypass the nitrogen
(which has an affinity for other nitrogens anyway -- why azides detonate)
and trigger a strong exothermic reaction, which in turn provides enough
energy to kick the surrounding oxygen molecules into ditching their
nitrogens and oxidizing the hydrocarbons directly.

-James Rogers

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