Popular Mechanics, America’s classic science and engineering magazine, has officially endorsed lawlessness with a new do-it-yourself article explaining to rioters how they can use science to take down “problematic monuments” they’ve decided they “no longer like.”
“Should you happen to find yourself near a statue that you decide you no longer like, we asked scientists for the best, safest ways to bring it to the ground without anyone getting hurt—except, of course, for the inanimate racist who’s been dead for a century anyway,” wrote author James Stout in the article titled How to Topple a Statue Using Science.
“The force required to pull down a statue isn’t as great as you think,” Stout explains. “To break the statue from its base, split into two teams on either side and work in a back-and-forth motion. Most statues are attached to the base by 2 to 3 feet of rebar, so you’ll actually be breaking it at the bronze above the rebar—not the rebar itself.”
But it’s not just physics one can harness in their quest to destroy public or private property, Stout goes on: “Maybe you’re operating with an even smaller team—or toppling the statue all by yourself. In that case, your best bet is melting the damn thing. So let’s make a thermite reaction.”
“The formula is very simple. It’s 3:1 by mass of rust and aluminum powder,” Stout writes, quoting San Diego State University chemistry professor Chris Harrison. “You mix those together and use a piece of magnesium to use as a high temperature fuse. And if you don’t have one, you could use a sparkler.”
The article, which has been edited several times since its first posting last week, formerly taught readers to use liquid nitrogen to help shatter the base of statues, giving the following potentially dangerous advice:
Or you could combine the two, says Harrison. “If the liquid nitrogen is above the height of the thermite, you’ll have some very cold metal, right next to some metal getting very hot,” he says. “This should induce a lot of thermal strain, likely causing the metal to crack in that region.”
Just keep that hole way above your thermite, or you’ll be spraying incredibly hot molten metal into the air.
And here’s a fun bonus: The liquid nitrogen will quickly turn to a gas and come shooting out of that hole you drilled, says Harrison, which will almost certainly cause a high-pitched squeal. “One could imagine it sounding something like the sound a confederate general would make if their feet were on fire.”
The article is illustrated with several images of statues suffering such fates, including a decapitated Christopher Columbus statue in Boston, protestors in England throwing a statue of Edward Colston into a river earlier this month, and U.S. troops destroying a statue of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003.
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