Boom! Did you hear that explosion? It sounded like a thousand sticks of dynamite blowing up at once. Can you imagine what that might look and sound like?
If you’re a fan of cartoons, you may have seen Wile E. Coyote(Jackle) and Roadrunner(fast running Bird) playing with dynamite from time to time. Isn’t it amazing how they never seem to get hurt? Of course, unlike in cartoons, real dynamite is a powerful explosive that can be very damaging.
What is Dynamite?
A chemical explosive is anything that, once ignited, burns extremely rapidly and produces a large amount of hot gas in the process. The hot gas expands very rapidly and applies pressure.
Dynamite is chemical explosive with some sort of absorbent material (like sawdust) soaked in nitroglycerin. The absorbent material makes the nitroglycerin much more stable. Nitroglycerin has the chemical formula C3H5(ONO2)3. The carbon and hydrogen combine with oxygen, and the nitrogen is liberated.
Who invented Dynamite?
Dynamite was invented in 1867 by Alfred Nobel. If you’re wondering, yes, it’s the same Alfred Nobel who started and funded the Nobel Prizes for scientific and cultural achievements.
His invention of dynamite made him very wealthy, which allowed him to fund which has become some of the most prestigious awards in the world.
Nobel’s invention made the nitroglycerin safer to handle. He did this by soaking it into a soft, chalky stone called diatomaceous earth.
When soaked in diatomaceous earth, the nitroglycerin was much harder to set off and thus safer to handle. Later on, other substances, such as sawdust and cellulose, were often substituted for diatomaceous earth.
How Does Dynamite work?
Dynamite is formed into explosive sticks that feature a wick and a blasting cap. The wick is lit, which leads to a small explosion when it reaches the blasting cap. When the blasting cap explodes, the nitroglycerin then causes a much larger explosion.
Some people believe the burning wick actually sets off the nitroglycerin. But in reality, a stick of dynamite can be burned without exploding. It’s the small explosion of the blasting cap that is required to cause the nitroglycerin to explode.
You may see some explosives labeled “TNT” that look like dynamite. TNT stands for trinitrotoluene, which is also an explosive but quite different from dynamite. Dynamite is actually much more powerful than TNT.
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