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The Other White Heat
April 15, 2009 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Theodore Gray, author of the new book Theo Gray's Mad Science, has a personal collection of thousands of samples of elements [previously on MetaFilter]. In his Popular Science column, he has smelted his own titanium and dissolved aluminum. Now, he cuts through steel with bacon.
posted by Eater (31 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bacon, is there nothing it can't do?
posted by tommasz at 6:53 AM on April 15, 2009


Prosciutto is ham, not bacon.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:58 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Prosciutto is ham, not bacon.

Oh sure Lisa, a wonderful, magical animal.
posted by DU at 6:59 AM on April 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


hahaha! Engineering Grade Bacon!

To be fair to the steel he's actually cutting with a flame based on bacon fat and oxygen. Though if someone were to craft a bacon sword that I could use to cleave my enemies life from limb I think I would buy it.
posted by Severian at 7:17 AM on April 15, 2009


"The challenge isn't creating the heat; it's engineering a bacon structure strong enough to withstand the stress of a 5,000°F bacon plasma flame."

I have been saying this for years.
posted by dammitjim at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


This guy's humor is as dry as the prosciutto. "A cucumber packed with beef sticks will burn for almost two minutes." Classic.
posted by Plutor at 7:31 AM on April 15, 2009


Best results were with seven beef sticks and a cucumber.

How many times have we heard that?
posted by eriko at 7:31 AM on April 15, 2009


The Bacon meme is getting pretty stale at this point, but this is unmitigated awesome.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:33 AM on April 15, 2009


Of course, as demonstrated on MythBusters (and widely known before then), you could also use a purer carbohydrate in the form of sugar or better yet just plain carbon.
posted by DU at 7:35 AM on April 15, 2009


I just like the term "thermal lance". I don't know why, but it just sounds really cool.
posted by sotonohito at 7:37 AM on April 15, 2009


Whether it's worth building a bacon lance to demonstrate this -- well, only you can be the judge of that.

Purely rhetorical.
posted by greensweater at 7:44 AM on April 15, 2009


Oh, the breadstick version. Called "green lantern".

Is this guy's book any good? Might have to go on my wishlist.
posted by DU at 7:45 AM on April 15, 2009


I just knew when I saw the headline that somehow a thermal lance would be involved, it's such a simple concept, but there is something almost magical about taking a somewhat flammable material, pumping pure oxygen through it, and turning it into an incendiary tool that can cut through anything.

Bacon is a new one though.
posted by quin at 7:56 AM on April 15, 2009


> The Bacon meme is getting pretty stale at this point

Be fair to the guy. He said he had to dry out the meat first.
posted by ardgedee at 8:14 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is pure, unmitigated, awesome.
posted by notsnot at 8:22 AM on April 15, 2009


...and now I look like a plagiarist of leotrotsky.
posted by notsnot at 8:23 AM on April 15, 2009


Totally cool, I've never seen a thermal lance before (or knew I was looking at one).
posted by onalark at 8:40 AM on April 15, 2009


Is this guy's book any good?

How could it possibly not be?
posted by Michael Roberts at 8:41 AM on April 15, 2009


Now here is someone who would be useful if sent back in time to 1000 A.D.
posted by Alison at 8:49 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like cereal, Thundercats, and America, I remember Popular Science being much better as a child.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:58 AM on April 15, 2009


When the zombie apocalypse finally hits, I'm going to whatever fortress this guy holds up in.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 8:59 AM on April 15, 2009


Like cereal, Thundercats, and America, I remember Popular Science being much better as a child.

Cereal, America and Popular Science, yes. But the Thundercats were never children. They were kittens.
posted by DU at 9:10 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aluminum's archenemy, mercury.
posted by JHarris at 10:49 AM on April 15, 2009


What a waste of good prosciutto! The horror!
posted by Democritus at 10:53 AM on April 15, 2009


A "thermal lance" sounds like an awesome Jedi weapon.
posted by Harald74 at 11:22 AM on April 15, 2009


Popular Science may be less cool now than in the past, but I do have to say this makes up for it a bit.
posted by JHarris at 11:37 AM on April 15, 2009


This idea was stolen from the MacGyver episode where our hero is trapped inside a restaurant's walk-in refrigerator by the dastardly Murdoc, otherwise left to freeze to death, were it not for the ample stores of bacon, the vegetable crisper, and the torch used for making creme brulees.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 PM on April 15, 2009


I don't understand. Couldn't he just light the torch without any bacon and still cut through the metal? Or is this a joke that went woosh over my head?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:09 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Couldn't he just light the torch without any bacon and still cut through the metal?

Oxygen itself doesn't "burn". It is an oxidizing agent that facilitates the oxidation of the carbohydrates and fat molecules in bacon. Without the bacon, there's nothing to oxidize.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:43 PM on April 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Like quin, I knew that a thermal lance would be involved. All that I can add to this discussion is to mention a film in which the thermal lance is prominently featured.

************SPOILER ALERT*************








This film.
posted by Tube at 5:01 PM on April 15, 2009


Table Of Elements

Bacon would, I feel, fall under "Te", for Tedium.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:03 PM on April 15, 2009


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