Thursday, January 19, 2006

Earth bubbles, (or, works in inflated bomb-proof bubble wrap)

"It looks like Bubble Wrap, but BlastWrap isn't for cushioning eBay shipments," writes Popular Science. "A BlastWrap-lined garbage can will dissipate a backpack-size-bomb blast in less than one thousandth of a second. The wrap's 2.75-inch compartments are stuffed with heat-treated perlite (the foamy pellets found in potting soil), a volcanic glass. The beads have a strong internal structure of sealed, air-filled cells. When a blast occurs, the cells are crushed one by one, minimizing damage to the surrounding area, while fire extinguishants snuff the fireball. Trash cans in Washington, D.C.'s Metro stations are now equipped with BlastWrap."

[Image: Popular Science, 2005]

It's also made using a cheap boric acid which contains water, but loses it when heated, creating a reaction that absorbs energy very quickly. Sounds revolutionary, with obvious application. Tests have already implied a worthwhile benefit to armoring humvees and soldiers, though this article in MSNBC reports that "it's not as if vehicles and buildings can be completely clad in BlastWrap to protect them from explosives. The material needs to be close to the detonation to absorb its force. It also doesn't protect against shrapnel or the narrowly focused blasts produced by rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades, or RPGs."

Too bad, because it would be amazing if some crazy avant-garde pyrotechnics artist could get their hands on reams and reams of this stuff to use as some sort of blast sail. The material would need to be pliable and durable enough so that an orchestra of meticulously triggered atomic blasts could be used to shape it, to make large scale detonation sculptures out of it, earth bubbles expanding into inflatable shelters erected with WMD's. Blast scapes become giant billows for a bizaare nuclear glass blowing project, though we'd use hundreds of thousands of yards of BlastWrap instead of cauldrons of liquid glass. Ever since I saw these pictures on grevestmor, I have wondered how one could capture those shapes, semi-parmanently, through some sort of flexible blast-resistant costume, or explosive fashion gear.

[Image: Harold Edgerton, via: gravestmor - 'Atomic Rapatronic']

It could be the greatest Burning Man or SimNuke project yet. A bunch of burners pile around a crater rigged with a series of timely explosives underneath five football field-sized sheets of BlastWrap, the edges pinned down to the lips of the crater, so everyone can bare witneses to a musical series of bangs that burst up massive bubble-gum landscapes from out of the ground. Explosions exhale into this earth condom, sexy sexy blast curves begin to take shape in the panting movements of elasticity, bombs respirating, stretching, morphing into an eliptical feminine bulge. In loud sonic booms atomic bodies are formed. Nuclear clouds hover in spontaneously-combusted bubble-wrap garments, rapatronic jellyfish float weightlessly in fresh hot exploded air, ghosts of the Sedan Crater emerge like deformed hot-air balloons over the dead horizon, or perhaps they resemble god-sized alien lungs breathing in the pneumatic belches of war. Eventually, the floating armored bubble would tear facing too many blasts, and strips of flesh would begin to hang from it. These desperate gnarled tentacles would slowly pull it back down to the ground, deflated, punctured, dragging itself in place, until laid to rest in the bottom of a bombed-out grave from where it once ballooned for no real reason. It's Edward Teller meets Harold Edgerton meets Cai Guo-Qiang meets Lee Bul: the world's first Atomic Spectacle Artist. We could even have a contest to see who could blow-up the biggest earth bubble before they pop.

{Image: Lee Bul, November 2004]

(Blastgard found via we-make-money-not-art.)

Related items:
Blast Scapes :: Digging with Bombs
Atomic Rapatronic (gravestmor)


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