Brian... Resident Rocket Scientist

America is a tune. It must be sung together. ~Gerald Stanley Lee, Crowds

Wait Until Your Dad Finds Out...

Brian explains
The stories begin to fly after a glass of wine... or two... ... I mean FLY

STORYTIME ... The Case Of The Misguided Missile

So it seems Brian is normal after all. When he was in his early teens he experimented in making gun power out of charcoal, salt-peter (potassium nitrate), and sulfur... It's OK, we all did it.

Brian describes the process...."By weight measure, black powder is made of seventy-five parts saltpeter finely ground, fifteen parts charcoal, and ten parts sulfur. All ingredients must be fine ground separately. This can be accomplished with either a mortar and pestle, or with a hand-cranked flour mill. Never mix all three ingredients before grinding unless you want to turn your mill into a deadly grenade, or your mortar into a cannon that can blow off your fingers or even your hand."

"Then the ingredients can be mixed with a small amount of water so the mixture comes out with biscuit-dough consistency. Usually when I mix the ingredients, I add just enough stale urine to make the batch bunch about like biscuit dough. The urine, substituted for water, gives the powder more oxygen and higher performance."

Now The Punch line...

So... Brian is making a rocket using the ingredients above! He pushes the materials into a small tube, puts on a cap with a hole in it, and puts a jet-X fuse into his top secret missile.

Hoping to make rocket history, he ignites the new invention aiming at the moon and stars. To his dismay, instead of going up, it falls over... takes off at supersonic speeds across his yard... crashes through the wooden wall his father's storage shed... comes to rest next to his father's prized bicycle (and only means of transportation)... and proceeds sets fire to the bicyc;es rubber tire... reducing the tire to a smoldering blob... releasing black smoke visible for miles...

Obviously, Brian is NOT a rocket scientist... We all laughed until it hurt.

Rocket Science
Now we will call Brian "Boom Boom"

Did You Know? - Gunpowder, also known since the late 19th century as black powder, is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. Gunpowder can be made just using potassium nitrate and charcoal (or alternatively without charcoal), but without the sulfur (or coal), the powder is not as strong. It burns rapidly, producing a volume of hot gas made up of carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen, and a solid residue of potassium sulfide. Because of its burning properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generates, gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms and as a pyrotechnic composition in fireworks.

Black powder is a granular mixture of

  • a nitrate , typically potassium nitrate (KNO3), which supplies oxygen for the reaction;
  • charcoal , which provides carbon and other fuel for the reaction, simplified as carbon (C);
  • sulfur (S), which, while also serving as a fuel, lowers the temperature required to ignite the mixture, thereby increasing the rate of combustion .


Note For Ed Roberts... Potassium nitrate was once thought to induce impotence, and is still falsely rumored to be in institutional food (such as military fare) as an anaphrodisiac; however, there is no scientific evidence for such properties.