Father Scott, Nature of Powders

Excerpted from Campion-Knights Nostalgia Guest Book

Mon Oct 18 14:34:54 2004 [Robert Bruchs 1973]: I remember yet another General Physics demonstration performed by the legendary Fr. Scott. This demonstration was on the explosive nature of powders (not gun powders, mind you). Benign powders, such as talcum powder, and for those whom grew up in the Mid-west, grain elevator dust. The demonstration went as follows: Imagine a 1-gallon paint can, inside of which is a wooden pedestal fastened to the bottom of the paint can. Fastened to the top end of the pedestal is a metallic bowl, with the capacity of approximately 1 tablespoon. Through a hole in the side of the paint can is a pipette with a tapered end, pointing directly at the metallic bowl. On the outside of the paint can, attached to the external end of the pipette, was I believe surgical tubing, about four feet in length. Inside the paint can, waxed firmly to the bottom surface, was a small candle (probably the funny birthday kind that you can't blow out). The apparatus now ready, Fr. Scott placed the full load of talcum powder into the tablespoon-sized reservoir, lit the candle, and tapped the paint can lid snugly onto the can. Before the candle could extinguish itself due to its consumption of the oxygen within the paint can, Fr. Scott quickly puffed into the far end of the surgical tubing. BOOOM !!!! The paint can lid flies off and impacts the ornate tin ceiling. Once the dust settled, there, before us gentlemen, his jet-black cassock now peppered with talcum powder, stood the Kabuki faced Fr. Scott. Without so much as batting an eyelash, I heard him say, “Therefore gentlemen, you now are aware of the explosive nature of powders, however, I think I used too much talcum powder”.