6 Things That Shouldn't Explode (But Did Anyway)
Michael Bay is right: Somewhere, right now, something is exploding.
And we're not talking bombs and tankers either. As it turns out, there are objects all over the place that will suddenly explode the shit out of themselves for absolutely no reason at all, and often when you least expect it.
Imagine this scene: You sleep through your alarm and have to skip a shower to make the bus on time, only the elevator to your apartment jams and you miss the bus anyway and have to take a cab. The cabbie helpfully ignores your directions and instead takes the long route to run the meter up. Then you step into a puddle off of the curb and soak both socks through before finally making the mad dash upstairs to your cubicle only to find that you just missed the regional manager's visit because you were late.
Basically you are Peter Parker. Without spider-powers. That is sad.
Utterly defeated, you sink into your ergonomically designed desk chair, which then blows the fuck up like Danny Glover's toilet in Lethal Weapon 2.
Sound like John Woo's Office Space? Wrong. It's science. Evidently, the pneumatic cylinder in an office chair can become too pressurized and, in extreme cases, leave the person sitting above feeling like they were just anally raped by Superman at the speed of sound.
"I heard a sonic boom and suddenly my asshole was pregnant."
How worried should you be? Well, there was a famous report that a boy in China was killed in such an incident when shrapnel from the chair's base tore into his rectum and caused him to bleed to death, but most have written that off as a hoax (or maybe viral marketing for a horror movie we never, ever want to see).
We suppose that should make us feel better, but all we can think of is if it happens tomorrow, we'll have the added bonus of going down as the first person in history to die from anal chair rape.
Recently, people in Hamburg, Germany were astonished to discover a pond filled to the brim with thousands of exploded frog corpses, which, according to the encyclopedia, is not typically how frogs enjoy their habitats.
So what had happened at this pond of death? Was it a genetic defect? Some kind of virus? A fat guy with frog-stomping boots? As it turns out, none of these are correct. The real culprit was a crow.
"Get my frog-stomping boots."
You see, this species of frog has an overzealous defense mechanism. When threatened, they puff up with air to several times their natural size in order to scare away enemies.
This seems like it would just make them look fatter and thus more appetizing to larger animals, but who are we to question evolution?
Anyway, crows are smart motherfuckers, and they've learned (possibly from the same encyclopedia) that the frog's liver is the best-tasting part of the animal. And not to waste any effort, they don't actually kill the frogs. They just swoop in and tear the livers out of their still-living victims with their beaks.
The frogs, aghast at the frog equivalent of waking up in a bathtub full of ice with one of their internal organs missing, go ahead and puff themselves up in a hilariously delayed defensive response, neglecting to consider the gaping holes where their livers used to be.
The result is a sort of offal cannon (or meat shotgun, if you will), spraying out entrails in every direction like the silly string of the damned.
Tropical paradises are never what they seem. Coconuts rocket down from the sky like cannonballs, sharks infest the shark-infested waters and the island beaches are entangled in vague pop-philosophy references and psychobabble.
"It's the Jungian, ah, parallel to our own sub-need... fuck it, I've been holding in diarrhea for like three hours."
On top of all this is the most unexpected menace of them all: fucking exploding fruit.
Native to the tropics is the Sandbox Tree, a 100-foot tall exclamation point to the phrase "Do not touch." Every inch of this towering monster is poisonous, and its trunk is laced with so many spikes it looks like a gladiator weapon. If this tree could walk, it would enslave humanity.
Climb me. I fucking dare you.
If somehow you manage to get beyond its toxic bark and leaves (and the spikes, never forget the spikes), you still run the very high risk of getting pelted in the face with the natural equivalent of a fragmentation grenade.
You see, the Sandbox Tree's seed pods are fist-sized fruit that, when ripe, explode with such force that they routinely wound nearby people and livestock, which is unsurprising when you look at the shrapnel they put out:
Evidently the Sandbox Tree watched the fruit picking scene from The Wizard of Oz and decided that if Dorothy ever tried that shit with it, she'd be walking away without a face. Either that or it just felt like lobbing bombs all across the beaches of Costa Rica like the Green Goblin. This is what is known as a "correct" or "real" defensive mechanism, frogs. Take a note.
All right, so how the hell do you get milk to explode?
Well, first you have to take the water out of it, and get powdered milk (a primary ingredient in things such as baby formula and chocolate candy). However, if its particles become suspended in the air and are somehow ignited, the resulting fire is oxygenated so quickly that you've got yourself a dust explosion. A fucking serious one, too. Some of the aftermath in this video looks like the result of a B-52 bombing run:
The dust explosion works the same way that a carburetor does by mixing a burnable material with air. The most common cause is heavy machinery, which kick up huge dust clouds during their daily operation. Friction and/or sparks produced by the machines can occasionally ignite those clouds, resulting in a milk-fueled explosion strong enough to demolish a building.
You know how I do.
That's exactly what happened at an evaporated-milk processing plant in Visalia, California in 2008. Years of excess powdered milk dust stuck on the machinery and suddenly detonated, shattering the plant's outer wall and setting the building ablaze.
All told, the explosion caused $200,000 worth of damage and the evacuation of some 200 factory employees, victims of the wrath of dehydrated dairy. And as shocked as those guys must have been, they probably still weren't as surprised as the people saw explosions of their...
Lithium-ion batteries are turning up in lots of consumer electronics these days, including cell phones, laptops and mp3 players. The batteries hold a lot of energy for their size, which is what makes them great for tiny devices. But it's also what makes them dangerous.
Overheating has been a continuing problem with these batteries, and when we say "overheat," we mean they fucking burst into flames. Consider the fact that most consumer electronics are carried in enclosed spaces (like your pocket) in direct proximity to a heat source (your body) and you begin to see the danger. When you remember that your pocket is really close to your crotch, "danger" graduates to "holy shit how does a loving god allow this to happen."
Recently, a 15-year-old boy was dismayed to look down one day in class and find that the burning sensation in his pants was not another involuntary erection, but rather a raging inferno of top-shelf electronics going up in flames.
His iPod Touch had burst and melted through his clothes, causing second degree burns. Apple had no comment, presumably because there isn't an app for dick-searing crotch explosions.
You may remember Dell experienced a similar and highly publicized debacle a few years ago when its laptops went through a recall after it was discovered that inadequate airflow caused the battery packs to go nuclear at inconvenient times.
The most inconvenient, of course, would be while using it on your lap. Arguably just beneath that would be while displaying it at a tech convention.
Picture this resting gingerly above your genitals.
Not wanting to be outdone by big-city laptops and iPods, a cell phone upped the ante by actually killing someone. A man in China had his phone in the breast pocket of his shirt when the battery suddenly superheated and exploded, severing an artery in his neck. Wait, didn't the chair impalement supposedly happen in China? What the hell is going on over there?
Of all the things on Earth that you would suspect as an explosion hazard, we're guessing the nice, placid lake next to your home is way the hell down at the bottom of the list (below even milk, maybe).
How? Well, it happens when a lake sits on top a volcanic area and is slowly filled with carbon-dioxide gas that trickles in through vents at the bottom. Everything sits quietly for a while, like that first family dinner after your mom catches you masturbating.
All it takes is something to disturb the surface of the water, like some falling rocks or an earthquake, and the entire volume of carbon dioxide is released in a massive eruption.
It's kind of like opening a can of soda after it's been shaken, if the can was large enough to hold a lake. Furthermore, as the carbon dioxide gas rises through the water before breaking the surface, it suffocates all the oxygen-breathers in the water; that is, all the fish. All of them. In the entire lake.
"I CAN'T BREATHE!"
There've been two widely studied cases of such explosions, in Lakes Nyos and Lake Monoun, both located in Africa and both eerily similar.
After the initial fish killing eruption, the cloud of CO2 settled on the ground like Stephen King's The Mist and suffocated all the livestock nearby before rolling downhill and engulfing several villages.
There's no way around it: this looks like a vagina.
The CO2 hit quickly and invisibly, acting fast enough to stop running truck motors. Combined, the two eruptions killed over 1,700 people and 3,500 heads of livestock. Though, for some reason, we're still more scared of the office chair thing.
Josh Pearce is voiced by James Earl Jones and portrayed physically by David Prowse. Here is his personal site.
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To find out how you can blow yourself up, check out 6 Badass Tricks You Can Do With Fire (That Might Kill You). Or find out about some unexpected explosions on the big screen, in The 5 Most Baffling Explosions in Movie History.
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