What do people want after a long, exasperating day? A beer maybe. A little down time in front of the TV possibly. To see some stuff exploding? Definitely. Thankfully, None of the Above host Tim Shaw is all about three things: calling people “dude,” putting his Ford Ranchero in harm’s way, and blowing stuff up. And what better way to combat the often-dreaded transition away from the weekend than back-to-back episodes of NOTA?
Now since you’re most likely reading this on Tuesday, I can ask you some multiple choice questions and it won’t seem like such a Monday kick in the pants. And my questions are pretty fun. Right gang? RIGHT??
We kick off the hour of science power with “Waves of Fire.” First things first…
Just mix a little oxygen with some hydrogen and blow it up. Good way to whet the appetite.
Later in the episode, Tim commits to creating a James Bond-like ejector seat using propulsion already found in your average car. (Tim also commits to a James Bond impression, but the less said about that, the better.) While the compressed air from a tire shows pretty well–and considerably better than the explosive charge rendered by gasoline and the car battery–it pales in comparison to the ejector-riffic power of the airbag.
Airbags are filled by a huge puff of nitrogen gas that is the result of mixing the right chemicals. However, early airbag designs–notably those by German engineer Walter Linderer–worked differently. Were they:
A) Filled with oxygen, which caused fires during tests
B) Filled with compressed air, which did not deploy fast enough
C) Filled by large engine fans during all times of automobile operation and deployed when necessary
D) Made from canvas, which would shred from the stress of sudden deployment
It turns out that Linderer’s early airbag was filled with another one of Tim Shaw’s favorite things… compressed air. So the answer is B) Filled with compressed air, which did not deploy fast enough. The sodium azide chemical reaction was pioneered in the 1960s and we’ve been thankful for big bags of nitrogen ever since.
The second of Monday’s NOTA episodes is called “Short Fuse.” Incredibly, Tim manages to find four people who are willing to eat habanero peppers to prove some kind of point. Sure, the peppers had been soaked in one of four liquids (milk, water, vodka, and beer), but everyone knew three of those peppers were still spicy as all get out. Yet they went ahead and did it anyway.
Turns out vodka made the pepper edible because the alcohol drew out spicy capsicum. Habanero peppers are no joke, either. Spiciness is measured on something called the Scoville Scale and habaneros occupy the upper half. However, they wither compared to the hottest of chilis: the Carolina Reaper. If a habanero has a Scoville rating of between 100,000 and 350,000, where does the Carolina Reaper fall?
A) 600,000 to 850,000
B) 850,000 to 1,150,000
C) 1,700,000 to 2,000,000
D) 2,000,000 to 2,200,000
The peak heat for a Carolina Reaper is a devastating D) 2,000,000 to 2,200,000 Scoville units. I think they should have soaked those in the different liquids for this challenge. That would have really spiced things up, AMIRITE? Eh? Eh?
Lastly, Tim drags some folks out to the desert to test out the eponymous experiment of the show. Four gunpowder fuses of differing composition are lit to see which delivers its spark first. That hardly matters because the real point is MORE EXPLOSIONS!
The barrels themselves are packed with gunpowder, as are the fuses that are running to them. Gunpowder has been around probably since 9th century China and definitely since the 11th. While it has its obviously militaristic uses, gunpowder has also been applied in some more creative ways, including which of the following:
A) As tattoo ink
B) To remove teeth
C) For pest control
D) As filament in light bulbs
I suppose some crazy person could have removed a tooth or flushed out mice with gunpowder, but the crazy answer I’m looking for is A) As tattoo ink. Old timey British sailors used to prick their skin and rub the powder into the wounds to create tattoos. Makes prison ink seem downright quaint, doesn’t it?
CALCULATE YOUR SCORE!
0 Correct – on the Scoville Scale, you’re a green bell pepper
1 Correct – don’t attend any pool parties at which the host makes you stare at a spinning field
2 Correct – more of a balloon pop than an explosion, don’t you think?
3 Correct – you win the pepper vodka… which – to be safe – you should probably just display on a shelf