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This is a "classic" case of Techies getting sidetracked and loosing
their focus...

A laugh for all of us who see ourselves getting passionate about a
problem again...  Totally unrelated to linux or computerbank, but
thing's have been a little too deep-and serious lately... ;-)

cheers all...

David Buddrige

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>Our subject today is lighting charcoal grills.  One of our favorite
>charcoal grill lighters is a guy named George Goble (really!!), a
>computer person in the Purdue University engineering department.
>Each year, Goble and a bunch of other engineers hold a picnic in West
>Lafayette, Indiana, at which they cook hamburgers on a big grill.
>Being engineers, they began looking for practical ways to speed up
>the charcoal-lighting process. "We started by blowing the charcoal
>with a hair dryer," Goble told me in a telephone interview.  "Then
>we figured out that it would light faster if we used a vacuum
>cleaner." If you know anything about (1) engineers and (2) guys in
>general, you know what happened: The purpose of the charcoal-lighting
>shifted from cooking hamburgers to seeing how fast they could light
>the charcoal.
>>From the vacuum cleaner, they escalated to using a propane torch,
>then an acetylene torch.  Then Goble started using compressed pure
>oxygen, which caused the charcoal to burn much faster, because as
>you recall from chemistry class, fire is essentially the rapid
>combination of oxygen with a reducing agent (the charcoal).   We
>discovered that a long time ago, somewhere in the valley between the
>Tigris and Euphrates rivers (or something along those lines).
>By this point, Goble was getting pretty good times.  But in the world
>of competitive charcoal-lighting, "pretty good" does not cut the
>mustard. Thus, Goble hit upon the idea of using - get ready - liquid
>oxygen. This is the form of oxygen used in rocket engines; it's 295
>degrees below zero and 600 times as dense as regular oxygen.  In
>terms of releasing energy, pouring liquid oxygen on charcoal is the
>equivalent of throwing a live squirrel into a room containing 50
>million Labrador retrievers.
>On Gobel's Web page (the address is http://ghg.ecn.purdue.edu/), you
>can see actual photographs and a video of Goble using a bucket
>attached to a 10-foot-long wooden handle to dump 3 gallons of liquid
>oxygen (not sold in stores) onto a grill containing 60 pounds of
>charcoal and a lit cigarette for ignition.  What  follows is the most
>impressive charcoal-lighting I have ever seen, featuring a large
>fireball that according to Goble, reached 10,000  degrees Fahrenheit.
>The charcoal was ready for cooking in - this has to be a world record
>* 3 seconds.
>There's also a photo of what happened when Goble used the same
>technique on a flimsy $2.88 discount-store grill. All that's left is
>a circle of charcoal with a few shreds of metal in it.  "Basically,
>the grill vaporized," said Goble.  "We were thinking of returning it
>to the store for a refund."
>Looking at Goble's video and photos, I became, as an American, all
>choked up with gratitude at the fact that I do not live anywhere near
>the engineers' picnic site.  But also, I was proud of my country for
>producing guys who can be ready to barbecue in less time than it
>takes for guys in less-advanced nations, to spit.
>Will the 3-second barrier ever be broken?  Will engineers come up
>with a new, more powerful charcoal-lighting technology?  It's
>something for all of us to ponder this summer as we sit outside,
>chewing our hamburgers, every now and then glancing in the direction
>of West Lafayette, Indiana, looking for a mushroom cloud.
>Engineers are like that."