Ignition!

#1
I thought you all* might like a book that starts with 'before' and 'after' pictures of a rocket engine test like this:

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and has stories like this:

"And then the whole program was brought to a screeching halt. There were two reasons for this, one strategic, one technical. [The technical] lay in the fact that the combustion product of boron is boron trioxide, and that below about 1800° this is either a solid or a glassy, very viscous liquid. And when you have a turbine spinning at some 4000 rpm, and the clearance between the blades is a few thousandths of an inch, and this sticky, viscous liquid deposits on the blades, the engine is likely to undergo what the British, with precision, call "catastrophic self-disassembly."

It's a book on early rocket science and some very, very dangerous materials: http://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf

(from reading "Things I won't work with" http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/category/things-i-wont-work-with )

*Because sweeping statements about communities is very modern, and I'm down with the kidz
 
#2
It’s a very good read. A good mix of technical detail and superb readability, with a wry sense of humour.
 
#4
It’s a very good read. A good mix of technical detail and superb readability, with a wry sense of humour.
It is indeed.

It is hard to believe that what is basically the history of a minor branch of chemistry can be such an easy read and actually make you laugh out loud.

I read it a few years ago after I read Command And Control because I didn’t know what hypergolic meant or why it was problematic.
 
#5
I'm not even a third of the way through and laughing-with-tears at the dreadful, appalling, extraordinary, dark and yet still funny stories. I feel bad. I'm still laughing.

Also it's surprisingly informative. You can run jets on coal dust? Who knew? Well apart from rocket scientists obviously. And jet engine engineers. And... well anyway.

One day, when I grow up, I want to be able to write like this.
 
#6
I'm not even a third of the way through and laughing-with-tears at the dreadful, appalling, extraordinary, dark and yet still funny stories. I feel bad. I'm still laughing.

Also it's surprisingly informative. You can run jets on coal dust? Who knew? Well apart from rocket scientists obviously. And jet engine engineers. And... well anyway.

One day, when I grow up, I want to be able to write like this.
Well make sure you don’t blow your fingers off, join the “suicide squad” or otherwise die horribly (albeit probably VERY quickly) then.
 
#7
Should have used a giant milk bottle to stabilise it.
That doesn't work, as my daughters' ex-found out one bonfire night. It fell over and the rocket went through the french windows, hit him in the back but luckily did no damage. Now take away the alcohol and we may be on to a winner.
 
#8
One of my favourite passages concerns chlorine triflouride, something along the lines of “it was a holy terror to handle. It was so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay had ever been measured, and it would ignite on contact with wood, concrete and lab technicians”
 

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