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Engineer's Hamburger Grill

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I got this from a daily humorous email group I subscribe to.    It is called 
'Have A Nice Day' Laugh.  Todays was hilarious and I had to forward it to
you.  I checked out the web site listed below and it is true.  Warning, it is
large so it takes a while to load.  I will leave the subscription information
at the bottom of this message for those of you who may want to subscribe. 
Enjoy.  Please don't try this yourself!


Our subject today is lighting charcoal grills.  One of our favorite charcoal
grill lighters is a guy named George Goble (really!!), a computer person in
the Purdue University engineering department.

Each year, Goble and a bunch of other engineers hold a picnic in West
Lafayette, Indiana, at which they cook hamburgers on a big grill. Being
engineers, they began looking for practical ways to speed up the
charcoal-lighting process. "We started by blowing the charcoal with a hair
dryer," Goble told me in a telephone interview.  "Then we figured out that it
would light faster if we used a vacuum cleaner." If you know
anything about (1) engineers and (2) guys in general, you know what happened:
The purpose of the charcoal-lighting shifted from cooking hamburgers to
how fast they could light the charcoal.

>From the vacuum cleaner, they escalated to using a propane torch, then an
acetylene torch.  Then Goble started using compressed pure oxygen, which
caused the charcoal to burn much faster, because as you
recall from chemistry class, fire is essentially the rapid combination of
oxygen with a reducing agent (the charcoal).   We discovered that a long time
ago, somewhere in the valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (or
something along those lines).

By this point, Goble was getting pretty good times.  But in the world of
competitive charcoal-lighting, "pretty good" does not cut the mustard.  Thus,
Goble hit upon the idea of using - get ready - liquid oxygen.
This is the form of oxygen used in rocket engines; it's 295 degrees below
and 600 times as dense as regular oxygen.  In terms of releasing energy,
pouring liquid oxygen on charcoal is the equivalent of throwing a live
squirrel into a room containing 50 million Labrador retrievers.

On Gobel's Web page (the address is, you can see
actual photographs and a video of Goble using a bucket attached to a
10-foot-long wooden handle to dump 3 gallons of liquid oxygen (not sold in
stores) onto a grill containing 60 pounds of charcoal and a lit cigarette for
ignition.  What  follows is the most impressive charcoal-lighting I have
ever seen, featuring a large fireball that according to Goble, reached
10,000  degrees Fahrenheit. The charcoal was ready for cooking
in - this has to be a world record - 3 seconds.

There's also a photo of what happened when Goble used the same technique on a
flimsy $2.88 discount-store grill. All that's left is a circle of charcoal
with a few shreds of metal in it.  "Basically, the grill vaporized," said
Goble.  "We were thinking of returning it to the store for a refund."

Looking at Goble's video and photos, I became, as an American, all choked up
with gratitude at the fact that I do not live anywhere near the engineers'
picnic site.  But also, I was proud of my country for producing guys who
can be ready to barbecue in less time than it takes for guys in less-advanced
nations, to spit.

Will the 3-second barrier ever be broken?  Will engineers come up with a new,
more powerful charcoal-lighting technology?  It's something for all of us to
ponder this summer as we sit outside, chewing our hamburgers, every now and
then glancing in the direction of West Lafayette, Indiana, looking for a
mushroom cloud.

Engineers are like that."

HAND! Have A Nice Day!


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Richard Lewis, P.E.
Missionary TECH Team

The service mission like-minded Christian organizations
may turn to for technical assistance and know-how.