Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Things You Learn, Looking Up "Brisance"

Brisy, brisy-- Turns out the word comes from French for "shatter," and refers to the rate of pressure increase when an explosive is set off. PETN is one example of a high-brisance explosive: it is not the most explosive, unit-for-unit, but the pressure wave ramps up very fast and leaves broken bits when it passes by.

It's what the shoe-bomber was trying to use. But it takes a hard push to set off, and for that, the idiot was using-- Um. Why make things easier for fools? Suffice to say there is a very explosive, very unstable substance that can be made from stuff you'd find under the sink, but don't; it's so poorly-behaved that even mad bombers speak ill of it.

For those of you who appreciate irony, ponder the happy, emphatic people on X: that ill-behaved explosive is also an unwanted by-product of MDMA synthesis. So, kid? Don't visit the lab! (Y'otta be nicer to your serotonin and dopamine levels anyway; gross fiddling with them is like trying to adjust a wristwatch with a sledgehammer.)

Clear down at the bottom of this heap of suck, fail and disappointment is a rotten little Easter egg: safrole. It's the reason you can't find real old-time sassafrass root at the grocers, the root being a source thereof: first, safrole makes rats break out in cancer, so FDA banned it along about 1980 (except you'll still find a bit in things like cinnamon, basil and black pepper) and second, it's a DEA List I chemical! So if you were planning to dig up some sassafrass root and brew your own? The Feds will save you a seat on the bus, right next to the enterprising, slender, dentally-challenged fellow who built his very own meth lab.

Geesh. I should'a run with the definition inferred from context. "Brisance!" It sure busted up a little corner of what I thought I knew.


Anonymous said...

Damn. Used to chew on sassafras tree leaf stems all the time growing up. Still do occasionally. I guess I'm druggie...didn't even know it.

I suppose the kids'll discover it and next thing ya' know, the DEA'll be in bombing and burning all the sassafras trees.

They sure smell good though.

mikelaforge said...

So THATS why that old home made root beer used to make me happy.
But I still get to love me some brisance.