1; Episode 24;
Exodus - Part 2
Do you have any idea
what happens to dynamite in
ninety plus degree heat, huh? Do you know? Any of you? It sweats nitroglycerin. Dynamite
is nitroglycerin stabilised by
clay. Nitroglycerin is the most dangerous
and unstable explosive know to man. Any of you hear about the guy who invented
nitroglycerin? Probably not!...cause he blew is frigging face off. His lab
assistance came into the room, saw that his mentor had detonated, and he said;
"huh, I guess this stuff does work". OK were not going to take more of this stuff
than we need, because nitroglycerin is extremely temperamental, so we don’t…[Waves
the dynamite and blows himself up].
Dr. Leslie Arzt (Daniel Roebuck)
accompanies the team venturing to the Black Rock to assist in the retrieval of dynamite
to blast open the mysterious hatch. When Jack, Kate, and Locke bring out a crate
containing dynamite, an alarmed Arzt explains that, at 90ºF,
dynamite sweats nitroglycerin,
the most reactive substance known to man. After Arzt wraps a stick of
dynamite in Kate's wet shirt, he waves the dynamite (by accident), which explodes in his hands, killing
History: The Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero first
made nitroglycerin in 1847, by adding glycerol to a mixture of concentrated
nitric and sulfuric acids.
Sobrero’s face was badly scarred due to an
explosion in the 1840s. Terrified of his discovery he considered nitroglycerin
to be too dangerous for practical use as the impure compound was liable to
explode without warning.
A Nobel Discovery: Swedish scientist and
industralist Alfred Nobel
studied these problems and worked hard to improve nitroglycerin as a means for
blasting rock and thus used as a tool for mining. In the 1860s he discovered that when the compound
was combined with silica it could be turned into a paste and kneaded into
shapes. This is frequently referred to as dynamite.
Discontent: Sobrero was mortified when Nobel began the
commercial exploitation of nitroglycerin and due to the success of dynamite;
the Italian felt he had been subject to an injustice. Although Nobel openly
cited Sobrero as the inventor of nitroglycerin, Sobrero quoted: "When I
think of all the victims killed during nitroglycerin explosions, and the terrible
havoc that has been wreaked, which in all probability will continue to occur in
the future, I am almost ashamed to admit to be its discoverer".
Nitroglycerin is derived
from glycerol (highlighted in red; where all the OH groups have be replaced
with NO2). Glycerol is a common biological molecule from which
triglycerides fats (in animals) and oils (in plants) are assembled.
heavy, colourless, toxic oil, that is so unstable that the slightest jolt,
impact or friction can result in spontaneous detonation. Although explosive in
the liquid state, the solid is much less sensitive to shock and therefore more
stable (freezes at approx. 13°C). It is obtained by nitrating glycerol and is
used in the manufacture of explosives, specifically dynamite.
Click on the picture above
with the 3D model of the
Name: Nitroglycerin (or nitroglycerine, trinitroglycerin,
IUPAC Name: 1,2,3-trinitropropane
As nitroglycerin contains oxygen, nitrogen and carbon, an
explosion is essentially rapid combustion
- the three nitrate groups (powerful oxidizing
agents) are bound directly to a hydrocarbon fragment (a fuel). Hence releasing a large amount of energy (exothermic
reaction) because the atoms rearrange to form new
molecules with strong, stable (multiple) bonds, such as N2 and CO.
Pure nitroglycerin is a contact explosive (physical shock may result in an
explosion), which degrades over time, producing even more unstable chemical
forms. As a result nitroglycerin is highly dangerous to transport or handle.
The undiluted form it is one of the most powerful high explosives, analogous to
military explosives RDX and PETN, along with the plastic explosive C-4.
Although nitroglycerin can deflagrate or burn, the explosive decomposes
almost instantaneously producing a supersonic shockwave that propagates through
the fuel-rich medium/material. Instantaneous destruction of all the molecules
in the sample is known as detonation, where rapid expansion of hot gases causes
a violent and destructive explosion.
One advantage that nitroglycerin possesses
in contrast to other high explosives, such as TNT, is that no solid forms
of carbon (soot or smoke) are produced once the material is detonated.
Therefore nitroglycerin can be used to create 'smokeless powders', which is
of a great advantage to the armed forces whose field of vision is not obscured
by clouds of billowing smoke during a battle.
must be kept at a very low temperature,
as the substance will degrade into more
unstable forms. Explosions will lead to
the loss of limbs or even life.
Watch this short clip demonstrating
the explosive power of nitroglycerin. Click on the icon
In pharmaceutical form, nitroglycerin (sometimes called glyceryl
trinitrate, probably to prevent alarming patients) is used as a heart
medication, which is unlike its unstable counterpart, as it cannot be rendered
even slightly explosive.
It is used as a medicine for angina pectoris in tablets,
ointment, solution for intravenous injection, transdermal patches (Transderm
Nitro®, Nitro-Dur®), or sprays administered under the tongue (Nitrolingual Pump
Angina occurs when the coronary arteries become constricted
(ischemia) and are incapable of carrying sufficient oxygen to the heart muscle,
resulting in suffocating chest pain. The principal action of prescribed
nitroglycerin is vasodilation – which is widening (relaxing) of the blood
Nitroglycerin is converted to
nitric oxide (a natural vasodilator) within the body, which in turn causes the
coronary artery (blood vessels surrounding the heart) to dilate, increasing
blood flow and thereby improving the oxygen supply to the heart. As a result
chest pains subside as the blood pressure decreases and the heart rate
increases. Although nitroglycerin only controls chest pains, it does not cure
the condition (i.e. it cannot stop an attack that has already started). Also it
may lose effectiveness over long periods of use.
Nitroglycerin has the following
side effects as the body adjusts to the medication:
Trade Names: Nitrospan® and Nitrostat®
leads to high blood pressure and an increased
administration. Artery dilates,
improving blood flow; alleviating chest