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The Recurrence of Unexploded Bombs from World Wars

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The Earth possesses a substantial quantity of explosive bomb material, amounting to millions of tons, primarily originating from the two global conflicts that occurred throughout the 20th century. Although a significant portion of these entities has been neglected and overlooked in recent decades, recent studies have revealed that a considerable number of them contain a chemical compound that renders them progressively more susceptible to detonation over time.

Amatol, a potent explosive compound derived from a blend of TNT and ammonium nitrate, was extensively employed in various explosive devices utilized throughout World War One and World War Two. These devices encompassed airplane bombs, shells, depth charges, and naval mines.

Additional frequently employed explosives, such as pure trinitrotoluene (TNT) or pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), exhibit generally consistent stability throughout time and do not exhibit an increase in their level of hazard compared to their first stages. Nevertheless, Amatol exhibits an increasing susceptibility to effect over time when subjected to specific settings.

Two scientists from the University of Oslo and the University of Stavanger in Norway conducted a series of experiments where they applied weights to five samples of amatol explosives obtained from battlefields. This finding demonstrated that the bombs exhibited a higher degree of sensitivity to impact than previously acknowledged, and their volatility progressively escalated as they underwent aging.

The observed change in temperament can be attributed to the chemical reactivity of amatol with other substances present in the natural environment.

The study authors note that the presence of moisture, coupled with other conditions, can enhance the impact sensitivity of amatols.

It is widely acknowledged that explosive compositions, including ammonium nitrate, have the potential to undergo sensitization upon exposure to trace amounts of metals or interactions with metals. “The presence of these metal contaminants can undergo a chemical reaction with ammonium nitrate, resulting in the formation of complex salts and the sensitization of the mixture,” they state.

The presence of unexploded bombs from World War II is a frequent occurrence, often resulting in significant disruptions.

In February 2024, a German bomb weighing 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) was found in a backyard in Plymouth, UK. More than 100 military personnel and specialists in bomb disposal were sent, while a significant number of surrounding inhabitants were compelled to flee, paradoxically signifying one of the most extensive evacuation endeavors since the conclusion of the Second World War.

Fortunately, the detonation of the device was executed without any casualties; nonetheless, such occurrences can occasionally culminate in terrible outcomes. In 2008, a total of 17 individuals sustained injuries at a building site located in the German town of Hattingen. The incident occurred when an excavator collided with a 250-kilogram (550-pound) bomb from the World War II era, resulting in its detonation.

Recent research suggests that occurrences involving unexploded bombs, such as the one described, have the potential to escalate into a significant issue. In conclusion, the researchers emphasize the importance of informing individuals responsible for dismantling unexploded explosives of the heightened sensitivity of amatol to impact.

The recent research findings have been published in the esteemed publication, Royal Society Open Science.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Science

NASA Tells Us About The “Daylight Fireball” Over New York

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There were reports of a “daylight fireball” flying over the Statue of Liberty in New York, USA. NASA has now come forward to explain what it was.

Between 11:16 and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, people in New York said they saw a big fireball and heard a loud boom.

For example, someone driving on Route 100 said, “All of a sudden, I saw this bright, white, and kind of burning at one end bundle streak through the sky from left to right, going down very quickly.” “I have never seen anything like this before.”

The American Meteor Society got a lot of reports about the object. Based on these reports, NASA was able to get a rough idea of its path, which changed as more reports came in.

As NASA’s Meteor Watch said in a Facebook post, “more eyewitness reports have been posted—we have double what we had before, and the additions have made a big difference in the trajectory.” “Right now, the meteor is coming from above New York City and going west into New Jersey.” A little faster now, going 38,000 miles per hour (61,155 km/h).

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People who commented were surprised that a meteor could have hit without NASA being aware of it. However, smaller objects like this do hit the Earth’s atmosphere pretty often. Every day, about 44,000 kilograms (97,000 pounds) of meteoric material are thought to fall to Earth.

“A lot of people think that NASA keeps an eye on everything in space,” NASA’s Meteor Watch went on. “We do keep an eye on asteroids that could hurt people on Earth, but small rocks like the one that’s making this fireball are only about a foot (0.3 meters) across and can’t make it all the way to the ground.” We can’t keep track of things this small when they are very far away from Earth. The only time we hear about them is when they hit the atmosphere and turn into a meteor or fireball.

NASA keeps track of the big things that come close, but every night, a lot of smaller meteors can be seen in an hour. Likely, this one was a bolide, which is a bigger meteor that broke up when it hit the friction of our atmosphere. Bolides are very bright meteors that can be seen during the day. They are usually too small to make it to the ground, so they explode when they hit the atmosphere.

It’s nothing to worry about, even though we didn’t see it coming. That we can reconstruct its path from what people saw is cool too.

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Astronomy

It may not be long before we find “Earth’s Twin”

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To figure out if there is life in other parts of the universe, we start with Earth, where there is life now. Finding another Earth is a good way to find aliens. We have found more than 5,000 exoplanets, but we haven’t found Earth’s twin yet. This could change soon, though. Here comes the PLATO mission from the European Space Agency (ESA).

What does PLATO stand for? It stands for PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars. Its goal is very clear. It will look for nearby stars like the Sun that might have habitable worlds like Earth.

“One of the main goals is to find a way to compare Earth and the Sun.” The size of Earth is in the habitable zone of a star like the Sun. “We want to find it around a star that’s bright enough that we can really figure out how heavy it is and how big it is,” Dr. David Brown from the University of Warwick told IFLScience. “If you like, that’s our main goal.”

The telescope is not only an observatory for looking for planets, but it is also an observatory for collecting data on a huge number of stars. The mission team thinks that the fact that it can do both is a key part of why this telescope will be so important.

“You have two parts of the mission.” One is exoplanets, and the other is the stars. “From a scientific point of view, I think it’s pretty cool that these two parts are working together to make the best science we can,” Dr. Brown said.

One of the secondary goals is to make a list of all the planets that are Earth-like and all the star systems that are out there. One more goal is to find other solar systems that are like ours. Even though we don’t know for sure if our little part of the universe is truly unique, it does seem to be different from everything else.

Dr. Brown told IFLScience, “We have a bunch of other scientific goals.” “Really, how well do we know how planetary systems change and grow over time?” Planetary systems are something we’re trying to understand as a whole, not just one planet at a time.

PLATO is different in more ways than just the goals. It is not just one telescope. In fact, it’s made up of 26 different ones. Two of the cameras are fast, and the other 24 are normal cameras set up in groups of six with a small gap between them. This makes the telescope work better, has a wider field of view, and lets you quickly rule out false positives.

It can be hard to tell which of the things you find when you transit exoplanets are real and which ones are not. With the help of several telescopes, we were able to block out some of the mimics that we would have seen otherwise. “Plus, it looks pretty cool,” Dr. Brown said with excitement. “This big square with all of these telescopes pointing at you looks really cool!”

This week, Dr. Brown gave an update on PLATO at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Hull. The telescope is being put together and has recently passed important tests. There are no changes to the planned launch date for December 2026. An Ariane 6 rocket, the same kind that made its first launch last week, will take off from French Guiana.

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Astronomy

You can watch and listen to gravitational waves coming from everywhere in the universe

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Gravitational waves can be turned into sound very easily. The little chirp changes into little sounds as soon as the blocks hit each other. One of those chirps is my ringtone when my phone has sound, which doesn’t happen very often. The people at Audio Universe have now made the gravitational wave data even better.

In a 3D video, the sounds of gravitational waves hit you from the direction in the sky where it is thought they came from. The sound effects and visualization are both great. There are tiny vibrations in space-time that can hit you as you move your mouse, phone, or VR headset.

Like other sonification projects, it gives blind and visually impaired people a way to get involved in astronomy. It works well with other methods like the Tactile Universe. But that’s not the only reason why they do it.

“We want to do this for three reasons.” It helps researchers look into big, complicated datasets with lots of dimensions. It could be used to make educational materials that are immersive and interesting. Rose Shepherd from Newcastle University says, “It can also make astronomy easier for more people to understand, which is an important thing.” “Making things easier to get makes them better for everyone.”

Being able to listen to the emission lines of celestial objects is one of the most interesting things about sonification for research. As an object moves, its light spectrum peaks spread out, and sonification can make something that is barely noticeable to the eye seem very clear to the ear.

This is helpful in more than one field, though. The group has thought about how adding sound to different datasets could make them better. Warming Stripes is a cool example of this. This is a simple image that shows changes in temperature over time by using a series of stripes, from blue to red. The stripes on the right side get redder as we move from the left to the right. The left side shows decades ago. It is great to see how the climate crisis is getting worse, and now sound adds a little more to it.

“By adding sounds, it can give your data an emotional meaning.” Shepherd explained, “You can use that to show the data how you feel.” “We didn’t mean for the Warming Stripes sonification to make people feel stressed, but it was interesting to see how they reacted instead of just watching the video.”

Audio Universe is making a sonic toolkit that many people can use to make their own resources.

She gave a talk about the audio universe at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Hull this week.

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