You lost /what/?

About 380 tons of high-density chemical explosives, mostly HMX and RDX, have gone missing from a munitions dump in Iraq.

I’ll just say that a fist-sized lump of either of these is enough to make a fairly impressive crater, one in which you could easily park your car.

So, anyone want to play “guess where the explosives are now, and what kinds of uses they’ll find?”

Edit: Some side computations, just for amusement. The legal max GVW of a semi in California is 40 tons, which translates to about 30 tons of cargo space, so this is maybe 12 semis’ worth. In a Trauzl block test, RDX is about 186% the explosive power of TNT, (it’s the active ingredient in most plastic explosives) so if you set this all off at once it would be about 0.7kT equivalent explosive force. This should be enough to level unreinforced buildings at a distance of about 0.9km, and which should be audible (~1Pa overpressure) at a distance of about 550 miles. (Using Sublette’s formula that the radius (in km) as a function of blast overpressure is about Y1/3(P/P0)-0.7, where Y is the equivalent blast power in kT, P is the overpressure of interest and P0 is 3psi) So if that blast were to go off in New York City, you would hear a quiet little “thump” (well, 60dB, but down at 90Hz, far in the bass where human hearing isn’t very good. Elephants would hear it from about 10 times farther away) in Lansing, MI. Or from Salt Lake City to San Francisco, your choice. That’s really a lot of high explosives.

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Published in: on October 24, 2004 at 20:30  Comments (20)  
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20 Comments

  1. Next, on “Martha Stewart Incarcerated”: 101 uses of large amounts of high-density chemical explosive in your kitchen and bath.
    So, not only could we not find Weapons of Mass Destruction, but we also lost Weapons of Moderate Destruction. D’oh!

  2. Next, on “Martha Stewart Incarcerated”: 101 uses of large amounts of high-density chemical explosive in your kitchen and bath.
    So, not only could we not find Weapons of Mass Destruction, but we also lost Weapons of Moderate Destruction. D’oh!

  3. Yes, but how much does a “fist-sized lump” weigh?

  4. Yes, but how much does a “fist-sized lump” weigh?

  5. I should have said, about a pound of RDX will blow a car-sized hole. See the recent edit for what happens when I get extremely bored and try to calculate just how much 380t of RDX is. 🙂

  6. I should have said, about a pound of RDX will blow a car-sized hole. See the recent edit for what happens when I get extremely bored and try to calculate just how much 380t of RDX is. 🙂

  7. Man, it’s a good thing you’ve been mindwashed converted by the power of the gingerbread! 🙂
    Those are scary numbers.

  8. Man, it’s a good thing you’ve been mindwashed converted by the power of the gingerbread! 🙂
    Those are scary numbers.

  9. Mmm… behold the power of gingerbread… :9

  10. Mmm… behold the power of gingerbread… :9

  11. The cinnamon rolls are stronger, but I can’t recall if you’ve been inducted to those yet. I have yet to unleash them on Boulder… Mwhaha!

  12. The cinnamon rolls are stronger, but I can’t recall if you’ve been inducted to those yet. I have yet to unleash them on Boulder… Mwhaha!

  13. Ah, thanks for estimating that. I’m not that great with math, so I really like the units of mass to be compared equally. I know for example that a teaspoon of sugar weighs less than a teaspoon of neutron star. 😛

  14. Ah, thanks for estimating that. I’m not that great with math, so I really like the units of mass to be compared equally. I know for example that a teaspoon of sugar weighs less than a teaspoon of neutron star. 😛

  15. I don’t believe I have, no. I almost feel like I should threaten to use my knowledge for evil until I do. 🙂

  16. I don’t believe I have, no. I almost feel like I should threaten to use my knowledge for evil until I do. 🙂

  17. Come see me again and I’ll make some. Sadly I don’t think they ship really well, and they’re always better hot from the oven 🙂

  18. Come see me again and I’ll make some. Sadly I don’t think they ship really well, and they’re always better hot from the oven 🙂

  19. I know it’s technically not a WMD, but it’s damned hard to think of something that levels everything within a kilometer as being minor weaponry. Granted, it would be rather hard to smuggle that much RDX into anywhere, so it’s probably a weapon of several instances of moderate destruction… but still. The Oklahoma City bombing was just one small truck filled with decidedly amateur-grade explosives. The same truck filled with this stuff would have vaporized the entire building.

  20. I know it’s technically not a WMD, but it’s damned hard to think of something that levels everything within a kilometer as being minor weaponry. Granted, it would be rather hard to smuggle that much RDX into anywhere, so it’s probably a weapon of several instances of moderate destruction… but still. The Oklahoma City bombing was just one small truck filled with decidedly amateur-grade explosives. The same truck filled with this stuff would have vaporized the entire building.


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