Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

On blowing shit up (on the moon)

Back on the post concerning the moon, in which I asked what you might blow up in said environment had you the opportunity, Gotham raised an excellent point.

To wit:

Blowing up stuff on the moon is kinda hard without fire. You want to know what I would blow up? I’ll tell you when you tell me how you would blow stuff up.

I feel that, in the spirit of, well, Me in the World, I cannot let this thought go unaddressed. I feel compelled, in fact, to examine it more closely. In the spirit of, you know, blowin’ shit up, which is, indeed, awesome.

Thing is, I’m not sure about that first sentence, not in context of geography (on the moon) but rather in context of fire. Is fire, in fact, necessary to blow stuff up? Here I draw on my undergrad days studying chemistry, both general and organic alike: fire is not necessary to blow shit up. Blowing shit up would be an exothermic reaction, which would in fact mean that it would give off both fire and light.

Many things can cause exothermic reactions, but mostly it is the nearly instantaneous production of a ludicrous amount of heat, light, and force (heat + light + force = shit blown up). Fire, flame, heat, and light are, in fact, just a few things that might catalyze such an exothermic reaction. It’s worth noting that much shit, in fact, blows up even without any of the above. For example, if I’m not mistaken (and I may well be. It’s been known to happen. And often), sodium sorta blows up when exposed to, like, water. Or air. One of the two. I can’t remember which. I just remember seeing a picture in a textbook, and in said picture, a big hunka sodium was sparkin’ like a muhfugger. In fact, on the periodic table of elements, the ones on the far left are nearly completely inert, which means they’re all, like, aloof and barely give any other elements the time of the frickin’ day, much less react with them, but then on the left side, those elements are totally unstable and basically piddle all over themselves, and everything else for that matter, the moment any attention is paid to them whatsoever.

This has to do with electrons in outer shells, if I remember right. Helium, for example, has two electrons, total, and so fills the first electron shell. Which means helium doesn’t react much, for the most part, unless forced to. On the other hand, hydrogen, which is basically just a single proton with a single electron, reacts with just about any frickin’ thing it sees. And not only that, but do you know what you get if you introduce fire to hydrogen?

You get water!

Isn’t that crazy? Because the fire oxidizes the hydrogen, binding the latter to the former, and water’s just two hydrogens bonded to an oxygen. So yeah: fill a balloon with hydrogen and touch a match to it, and you’re going to end up with limp rubber and a puddle (but don’t try this at home!). Isn’t that totally awesome?

But back to the moon: blowing shit up needs an explosion. With fire, right? But also with some force, which might be difficult in a low-g environment, as the moon is. Part of the awesomeness of explosions is the fact that the exothermic force works against the force of natural atmospheric pressure, I think; take away that latter, and the former is much less impressive.

But maybe it’s not an issue: here, I found this article about an explosion! On the moon! It’s from back in 2005. And my question there is: something blew up on the moon in 2005? Why did we not here more about this? The world goes into a tizzy because somebody finds an ice cube on Mars, but an asteroid hits the moon to create a blast equivalent to 70kg of TNT and we hear just about nothing?

Somebody needs better priorities.


  1. Once, in high school, we had a bunch of our elementary school mentees running around. One of our science teachers decided to do some sort of cool experiment thing involving one of the metals–I think it might’ve been sodium, in fact–and water. Welp, it went awry. Blew up all over the place. Luckily, the kids were wearing cool, rad, fluorescent safety glasses. Ah, science, I miss you.

  2. At my school there’s this bulletin board for the Chemistry class but they never put anything on it and they never let other people put anything on it. I’m putting this, “heat + light + force = shit blown up” on it anonymously.

    I didn’t say you had to have fire to blow stuff up. I just said it could be kinda hard without it Maybe your a James Bond/Demolition artist but I’m not and since most of us spent every dime we had on the trip to the moon we can’t afford sodium. Most of us have blown stuff up involving a fuse which usually requires fire. Accidentally some of us have managed to blow stuff up with a blender, or microwave, or a electric tooth brush. (Don’t judge me!) So I suppose I would blow up something with a microwave and metal if the atmosphere would let me but still it would be easier with fire.

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