Sunday, December 04, 2011

N. B.: X-ray Invisible Hand Grenades?

Seems some Destructive Devices were found in the hands of Occupy Portland attendees and I don't mean the police. Found mention at Geek Warrior, leading to good old, Mencken-echoing Bob Owens.

Closer reading reveals something other than a World War (I, II, the fizzling/cold continuations) "pineapple" or "potato masher:" a powerful firework in a home-canning jar, a sort of poor man's jam tin grenade.

Nasty stuff, if the charge is powerful. I'd suspect the old-style zinc or modern two-piece lid (if used at all) would limit overpressure but even a little bit of broken glass headed your way at speed is no fun.

Of course, some True Scotsman had to pipe up, "You don’t understand. OWS is a non-violent protest. Therefore, any protester that commits violence is NOT part of OWS." No, you don't understand: if you want a protest to be non-violent, you have to step up and keep it that way. You can't just say, "Okay, sure, they slept in our camp and stood on our side, but they're Off The Christmas List." It takes actual skin in the game. Or did you miss the row of Occupiers Elsewhere kneeling and arm-linked in the street, defiantly being tear-gassed? Y'know what? They brought attention to their cause. I might think they're ijits but they sure got word out, and nary a bomb thrown.

But back to our story. Bob worries the shrapnel from such a device might be invisible to X-rays.* The answer is, yes and no: "Almost all glass is visible on plain x rays, but small fragments, between 0.5 and 2.0mm, may not be visible, even when left and right oblique projections are added to the standard posterior-anteroir and lateral views. Any patient who complains of a foreign body sensation should be assumed to have one even in the face of negative x rays."

These glass-bombs are both nasty and clumsy. Such a device either has to be gently placed (like a timed-fuse land mine), or thrown with the fuse timed so that ignition occurs before it hits and shatters the glass, which would greatly reduce the effect. It's nearly as dangerous to the user (and his nearby fellows) as it is to the target -- if it works at all. It's the kind of thing a bloody-minded fool would dream up.

Occupiers, if you really wanna be non-violent, police your own. Remember, if the cops pepper-spray or tear-gas you, you get press and you'll recover. When it comes down to thrown rocks vs. hickory sticks, Molotov cocktails against rubber bullets -- or real ones, both sides look bad, people get hurt or killed and you are probably not going to get the benefit of the doubt.

...Compare and contrast to TEA Party protests or the Glenn Beck 9/12 rally; Occupiers and other lefties can wrinkle their noses all they like, but the protest-with-signs Right's average lice-and-bombs score is hugely lower than that of their counterparts. The cleaner campers of Occupy Lancaster are gonna have to work overtime to get their peers caught up.
* Thanks to an ill-considered High School Physics project, I have had the chance to make and read my own X-radiographs of inanimate objects. It's density-based and glass is a bit denser than most of you. (X-rays of the sort you can create with fairly common lab items -- a spark coil and the right kind of radio tube -- will expose the single-shot Polaroid films once pretty commonly found among basic physics lab toys. Alas, we were short on lead and had to use rather more air instead, marking a very large circle on the classroom floor. It proved unpopular.)


Anonymous said...

They're silly overgrown children, unfortunately they are old enough to be allowed to buy stuff to make dangerous crap like homemade bombs.

Mike James

Tango Juliet said...

A good cat scanner would visualize glass quite well. MRI would pick it up too but MRI's don't have the resolution that CT's do.

Stranger said...

From back in the days when I took any job I could get, while unloading box cars I discovered...

A quart fruit jar about two thirds full of water, with a large chunk of dry ice and a tight lid, makes about as effective a bomb as an M-80 in a similar jar.


mikee said...

If you want something difficult to see on X-rays, try small wooden toy parts. My 1.5 year old daughter ate the chimney off a Scandinavian toy locomotive and we needed to make sure it got past her trachea safely. I could see it on the film, barely, but had to point it out to the intern who thought it was a Y-shaped bone in her stomach.

Darn those Scandinavians and their wooden toy trains.

the pawnbroker said...


Robert said...

"Y-shaped bone in her stomach"
What particular bone did the intern think it was? My anatomy and radiographic books are no help. Now, if you X-ray a shoulder just right, you can kinda sorta see a y-shaped bone...