Experiments

Can Lava Lamps Explode With Lethal Force

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Earthquake Machine."
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Finding: CONFIRMED

Explanation: In 2004, a 24-year-old Washington resident named Philip Quinn died in a bizarre accident involving a lava lamp. The hippy-era psychedelic light exploded while Quinn was experimenting with it on his stove, and a flying shard of glass struck him in the heart and killed him. To put the freak fatality to the test, MythBusters Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara heated up a handful of lava lamps.

Kari created a ballistics gel bust with a similar density of human flesh to put in the lava lamp's line of fire. Then, Tory warmed one up on the stove and waited for it to explode. Lo and behold, the lamp's pressurized contents of mineral oil, wax and alcohol started to bubble and burst forth about 20 minutes later. Shards of glass flew with lethal velocities, piercing the ballistics gel torso straight to its fake heart.

The volatile experiment confirmed the myth - and the life-saving importance of following safety instructions.

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