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    Mystery Explosion
    By Dave Deamer | November 12th 2012 10:31 AM | 28 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    I was impressed by the extensive damage done to an Indiana home and surrounding structures a few days ago. It really did look like a bomb blast.

    The obvious explanation is that a gas leak was the cause, but could it have been an explosive device?

    One way to sort this out is to compare the energy content of natural gas with other types of explosions. Intuitively, one might expect that a 100 kg (220 pound) bomb would do this kind of damage. The energy content of 100 kg of TNT is 400 million joules, so how much gas would contain a similar amount of energy?

    The surprising answer is that it doesn't take much, just 10 cubic meters. A typical room in a house has a volume of 30 cubic meters, of which 6 cubic meters is the oxygen that is also required to power a gas explosion. So a burst gas line in a tightly closed room would be one possible source of energy, but no one reported smelling any gas either before or after the explosion.


    Credit: KOMO news

    What else could it be? Suppose that a five gallon container of gasoline tipped over and spilled, then evaporated into a closed space. How much explosive power would it have? Again, the answer is surprising: 700 million joules, equivalent to a 400 pound bomb!

    So, playing Sherlock, my best guess is that gasoline spilled in an enclosed space such as a well-insulated midwestern basement, which also accounts for the fact that no one smelled the distinctive aroma of a gas leak.

    Having gone through this calculation, I'll have to do something about that gasoline container in our garage.

    Comments

    My wife and I live in Indianapolis, about ten-miles from ground zero. Even at that distance we heard the explosion rather clearly. It's curious to note that another house also exploded in Indy less than two-weeks ago (and less than a mile from my house). In that case the house was under renovation and unoccupied, so no one was hurt (though the house was totaled and nearby homes were damaged). It was suspected that burglars stole a lot of copper wiring and left the furnace system in a vulnerable condition.

    That's two-and-a-half houses disintegrated instantaneously, 40 more seriously damaged and declared structurally unsound, two people dead, and NO CLUE as to the cause. Local gas company has ruled out a natural gas leak. Sorry, Dave, but a 5-gallon gas can didn't do this. I'm calling a failed terrorist preparation.

    What are you're credentials? Sources? Calculations? Have you researched witness testimonies and report that houses were damaged up three miles away? Perhaps you're right, not likely though.

    Three miles away? Where did you get that?

    It still doesn't mention a three-mile debris radius.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    It still doesn't mention a three-mile debris radius.
    No, but it does say that the man who died was 'the director of product development and technology for tech company Indy Audio Labs.'

    On Thursday, the Marion County coroner's office said it used dental records to positively identify the two people killed in the explosion: 36-year-old Jennifer Longworth and her 34-year-old husband, John Dion Longworth.

    The cause of their deaths has not been determined, but they had been presumed dead, as their home was destroyed in Saturday's explosion.

    Jennifer Longworth taught second grade at Southwest Elementary School in Greenwood, just south of Indianapolis. Her husband was the director of product development and technology for tech company Indy Audio Labs.

    Maybe this man was experimenting with some new product or technology that somehow exploded?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Sure. Maybe he was dabbling in a stereo sound system powered by sticks of TNT. But really, what does that have to do with what I asked?

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Sure. Maybe he was dabbling in a stereo sound system powered by sticks of TNT. But really, what does that have to do with what I asked?
    It had nothing to do with what you asked but everything to do with the article you were talking about. Interestingly the other linked article that does mention that the blast was felt 3 miles away, also says :-
    "their first instinct was to check on their grandchildren, two toddlers who were in the basement. One held his ears and said, ‘‘Loud noise, loud noise.’’..."Dan Able, a 58-year-old state employee who lives across the street from the two homes that exploded, said his first thought was that a plane had hit his house. The blast was ‘‘a sound I’ve never heard before, it was so loud,’’.
    So maybe he was dabbling with a sound system powered by some potentially explosive new technology? The sort of sound system that the Rolling Stones would probably have paid a hell of a lot for at their 'Doom and Gloom' concert in London next week if it was made available. Here is a picture of the deceased guy Don Longworth from his Acurus company FB website that they have posted in his memory, he looks very handy.....



    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Except for the fact that he was a victim, not the cause of the blast.

    Despite what you may think, he was not a sound engineer for Hot Black Desiato.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Except for the fact that he was a victim, not the cause of the blast.
    The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive and anyway I thought that no one knows the cause of the blast yet? 

    Despite what you may think, he was not a sound engineer for Hot Black Desiato.
    How do you know that Gerhard? Disaster Area are supposedly the loudest band in the universe.
    Hotblack Desiato is a humanoid and front man for the band Disaster Area. He was incredibly rich, occasionally buying star systems, and once spent a year dead for tax reasons. He was also a long-time acquaintance of Ford Prefect. The guitar keyboard player of the rock group Disaster Area, claimed to be the loudest band in the universe, and in fact the loudest sound of any kind, anywhere. So loud is this band that the audience usually listens from the safe distance of thirty seven miles away in a well-built concrete bunker. Disaster Area's lavish performances went so far as to crash a space ship into the sun to create a solar flare.
    Let's hope they work out what happened soon, it must be very disconcerting for all those people affected by this devastating, mystery blast.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive and anyway I thought that no one knows the cause of the blast yet?
    You don't need to know the cause to know where it originated. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    So where did it originate exactly?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    It was supposedly the house next door, where the owners were away for the evening.  I say supposedly because I've heard that they recently escalated this to become a criminal investigation, and that there is an attempt to find a white van that was allegedly seen in the area.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Wow, I would have sworn that article previously mentioned the "three mile radius". This one certainly does:

    http://bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2012/11/12/blast-rakes-indianapolis-n...

    To OP: who keeps buckets of gasoline in their house. Allow it vaporize, and not smell it?

    Gerhard Adam
    Three mile radius is not the same as being "felt at least 3 miles away".  Also, the obvious reason why no one would smell the gasoline, is because the homeowner wasn't home.
    Mundus vult decipi
    That one doesn't mention damage. It only says the blast "could be felt at least 3 miles away".

    ...This is just like fuel fire melting steel... SMH... Good luck people, see you in NWO. It's been fun.

    Gerhard Adam
    LOL ... you haven't actually gotten any of the information correct, but it's a conspiracy?
    Mundus vult decipi
    So much for your Sheep-like belief system. It pains me run across people like you who have very closed minds. It is now a criminal investigation and there are conspirators who orchestrated the blast, making it a CONSPIRACY. It did not take an Einstein to see that from the beginning.

    Furthermore, so much for the 5 gallon petrol theory. In the end, perhaps it was the reflective bellies of migratory birds... Tis' the season.
    Peace.

    I'm guessing a meteor. At a maximum meteor speed of about 70 kilometers per second (http://www.meteorobs.org/maillist/msg13492.html) and an energy expenditure of 400 MJ, using kinetic energy as 1/2 * mass * velocity^2 would only require a 1/2 pound hunk of rock to produce such an explosion.

    Oops. Shoulda used 700MJ. That makes the rock about 2/3 lb at impact.

    Very large meteors plunging through the atmosphere can explode; the severe drag force rapidly compresses the object and raises its temperature to the point that it shatters.

    A typical meteor of less than one pound is too compact. The energy would go into punching holes through the roof, walls, floor, etc, losing kinetic energy all along the way. That energy wouldn't be manifested as an explosion... unless, of course, it happened to ignite a room full of leaking natural gas.

    True, it is doubtful that a meteor was the cause of the Indy explosion, but I still hold that an exploding mass of this size at that speed would expend the aforementioned energy, tantamount (albeit a smaller version) of the famous Tunguska explosion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event).

    The houses in the news pic were razed by an expanding front of compressed air. A one-pound meteor will do this only if there's a mechanism for rapidly converting all of its integral kinetic energy to a violently expanding field of pressure. If it explodes into a countable number of fragments, then each fragment will only have its own share of the total energy, and will at most punch holes. The house will end up somewhat like it was pummeled with buckshot, but won't be shredded to bits like we see in the photograph. There have been houses on record struck by small meteors. The worst damage has been holes.

    I have to wonder about the gasoline thought, as well - the smell issue strikes me as being just as appropriate to it. While part of the gasoline would most likely have vaporized, IIRC from a Mythbusters episode some seasons back, it's actually fairly hard to get gasoline to explode that way. In addition, since all of the gasoline most likely would not have vaporized, the remaining amount left over would burn, and leave a fairly distinctive ignition point fire investigators are very familiar with - and so I think it would have been spotted and reported by now. My thought to start with was meth lab, but the news reports I saw said that had been ruled out as well. Very curious, indeed.

    Has anyone looked at pictures of known NG explosions in homes and compared them to this explosion. The ones I have been able to find on the net don't show a strong burn pattern like this one. Thoughts?

    In researching this further I'm finding that some NG explosions do have related burning.