George Goble is a senior systems engineer at Purdue University who had an interesting hobby.
He liked to entertain himself and his friends by lighting a charcoal grill using liquid oxygen. His exhibitions started getting noticed in the local press and then on radio shows. Humor columnist Dave Barry wrote a column about it that gained national attention.
The authorities were not amused, probably because, despite telling others not to try this at home, Goble also warned them: “[A]n ignition source, such as a lit cigarette or one glowing coal, must be present before pouring on the LOX. If charcoal is PRESOAKED in LOX first, an explosion will result. One briquette presoaked in LOX is approx equiv to 1 stick of dynamite.” [Emphasis in original.]
Well, we can’t allow that kind of power to be trusted in the hands of “We the People,” can we?
“Two years after the act,” Goble wrote, “the local fire dept was not very happy with the fact, after seeing this web page. They now consider it ‘use of explosives,’ therefore I am not lighting any more grills.”
Not content to squelch the practice of his hobby, authorities didn’t even want him talking about it. Not only don’t they want people to have that kind of power, they don’t even want them knowing it exists. Linking to his original webpage results in the following:
“The people in charge have requested this web site be removed. 2/6/2003 –ghg”
It would have been nice if he had told them to go to Hell and started his own mirror site, but I can sympathize with his hesitancy to jeopardize his career.
But thanks to the miracle of The Wayback Machine (how can you not feel warmly toward people who pay homage to Mr. Peabody?), much of Goble’s original home page can be retrieved, although many of the links and movies appear to have been lost.
Enjoy. And remember—don’t try this at home.
Or do—it looks like fun if properly conducted by someone who knows how. Just don’t blame me if you blow yourself up and burn the place down.