Liquid

By Sean Carroll | August 12, 2006 10:52 am

I know I’m on vacation, but this seems important: for the first time, the Department of Homeland Security has deemed an entire state of matter to be a national security risk.

Phase Diagram Alert Level

Cynical-C has more (and more).

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor
  • http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/ Dr. Free-Ride

    Please tell me I can get this on a T-shirt! (It would totally solve the problem of which smart-alecky T-shirt to wear on international flights.)

  • Thomas Palm

    You’d imagine the right time to do this would have been after the 2004 tsunami. Water is vicious. As an extra bonus we all consist of some 70% water so finally Bush has an argument to treat everyone as a terrorist.

  • http://www.polyvibeentertainmentgroup.com/ Pamela

    Oh! Dr. Free-Ride is soo right! I want my T-shirt!

  • spyder

    I believe the new “British correspondent” on the Daily Show made this point the other night. The “terrorists” have struck a metaphoric knife into the heart of our liquid based culture and beings. We can never be free again.

  • Bob E.

    What state of matter is plastic (the putty-like kind you see in movies depicting explosives)?
    – Bob

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    I suspect that anyone trying to sneak on an international flight sporting an irreverent phase diagram on their T-shirt would be in danger of getting hauled off for lengthy interrogation. But you’re welcome to spread the picture around.

  • andy

    Surely all of us agree that Dihydrogen Monoxide is a dangerous substance (it can cause death even in minute quantities if inhaled) and should be totally banned!

  • andy

    Clarification: LDM (Liquid Dihydrogen Monoxide).

  • http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=124904 Carl Brannen

    It is only a matter of time before strip searches are the norm and the gov is contemplating random body cavity searches.

  • http://spatulated.wordpress.com/ Spatulated

    i nearly shot water through my nose when i saw this. good stuff.

  • Thomas S.

    What’s the alert level for BE condensates? Are they allowed as carry-ons, or must they be checked with luggage?

  • http://www.dailykos.com/ DarkSyde

    Damn, I didn’t see that one coming. After I wipe the streaming coffee off my face and keyboard, I’ll have to link that one.

  • BunBun vonWhiskers

    I am getting awfully tired of the bad rep that unenlightened non-scientists have been giving to “dihydrogen monoxide” (DHMO). They tell you that inhaling it can be deadly, prolonged exposure to its solid form can cause tissue damage, whatever.

    Dont fall for the hype.

    In the first place, as soon as someone calls it “dihydrogen monoxide”, you know that you are dealing with a non-scientist with an agenda. The correct scientific nomenclature is “hydrogen hydroxide”. Why do the critics call it DHMO? Because it just sounds scarier and people are more likely to liken it to carbon monoxide in their minds.

    In the second place, the dangers of hydrogen hydroxide have been greatly exagerated. Anyone who works with or deals with hydrogen hydroxide on a regular basis can eliminate most of the dangers of it with a few simple precautions. Simply by avoiding inhalation and wearing protective gear when dealing with it solid and gasseous states, you can deal with this relatively benign substance safely.

    Secondly, studies have shown that there are several animals that require hydrogen hydroxide on a regular basis in order to survive. While it is true that hydrogen hydroxide has been found in the tumors of cancer patients, many people have been exposed to hydrogen hydroxide in laboratory conditions with no ill effects. Many of the health issues surrounding hydrogen hydroxide are not even about hydrogen hydroxide, but rather other contaminants. Pure hydrogen hydroxide can be perfectly safe.

    So the next time someone starts telling you about the dangers of “dihydrogen monoxide” feel free to point out the error of their ways. And just because I know that people will be maiking the accusation, no, I have never recieved money, good, or services from the “dihydogen monoxide” lobby for presenting my opinion.

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  • greesyparrot

    Thomas Palm, shouldn’t that be spelled viscous?

  • Say Lee

    Also, it’s more like 90% that our bodies are water. 70% is the extent of Earth’s surface covered by water.

    Also read the potential spectacle of using body cavities (bladder, stomach) for storing the liquid explosive ingredients for later use.

  • Sloppy Seconds

    With Apologies to BunBun vonWhiskers:

    Protection of Civilians from Terrorists
    And the Dangers of Marijuana and Other Natural Chemicals

    Unenlightened non-scientists have been giving a bad rap to “dihydrogen monoxide” (DHMO). They tell you that inhaling it can be deadly, prolonged exposure to its solid form can cause tissue damage, whatever. It sounds suspiciously like the unscientific campaign against common, roadside-grown marijuana, and probably comes from the same sources: Unelected high officials in federal government having their first taste of power, urged on by elected officials who profess to want to “protect” citizens…but, only if reelected.

    Don’t fall for the hype.

    In the first place, as soon as someone calls it “dihydrogen monoxide”, you know that you are dealing with a non-scientist with an agenda. The correct scientific nomenclature is “hydrogen hydroxide”. Why do the critics call it DHMO? Because it just sounds scarier and people are more likely to liken it to carbon monoxide in their minds.

    In the second place, the dangers of hydrogen hydroxide have been greatly exaggerated. Anyone who works with or deals with hydrogen hydroxide on a regular basis can eliminate dangers with a few simple precautions. Avoid inhalation and wear protective gear when dealing with solid and gaseous states, and you can safely deal with this relatively benign substance.

    Studies have shown that there are several animals that require hydrogen hydroxide on a regular basis in order to survive. While it is true that hydrogen hydroxide has been found in the tumors of cancer patients, many people have been exposed to hydrogen hydroxide in laboratory conditions with no ill effects. Many of the health issues surrounding hydrogen hydroxide are not even about hydrogen hydroxide, but rather other contaminants. Pure hydrogen hydroxide can be perfectly safe.

    And, remember, this is just more of the same unscientific thinking that has led to marijuana being claimed to have “high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use,” and lacking in “accepted safety for use.” There is ample evidence to the contrary, but those who would hold citizens in fear as a political means for getting reelected are not interested in reality…only control.

    So the next time someone starts telling you about the dangers of “dihydrogen monoxide” (or marijuana) make it a point to show them the error of their ways. And just because I know that people will be making the accusation, no, I have never received money, good, or services from the “dihydogen monoxide” or “marijuana” lobbies for presenting my opinion.

    (With due props to BunBun vonWhiskers, as published at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2006/08/12/liquid/)

  • owlbear1

    But only on Airplanes. Liquids of all types are still safe to pour together into large conainers in the middle of Airports.

  • boomslang

    And I would just like to see the reaction on the face of a suspected terrorist after they’d been required to take a swallow of either industrial grade Hydrogen Peroxide, Concentrated Sulferic Acid or Acetone. And our fine chemically illiterate TSA’s must be thinking that all the other fluids in that trash can will do an effective job of diluting out that stuff.

  • ogre

    Bad owlbear1, bad! You’re giving terra-ists ideas they didn’t have, like making airports go boom.

    Now I’ll have to duck and cover ever time some bleached blonde tosses her over-priced, designer water into the bin of things too evil to take aboard….

  • Cynthia

    I’m elated to know that Homeland Security hasn’t deemed superfluidity of shampoo and hair gel to be “liquid threats” to airline safety.;)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Gavin Polhemus (gavinpolhemus@comcast.net) has sent a slightly different pdf version.

  • http://www.sciencefictionblog.com/ Ray Radlein

    Oh, sure, the Failed Bush Administration is acting to ban an entire state of matter now — but why have they continued to ignore the dangers of plasma?

  • http://www.cafepress.com/ihatetexas Grant

    Ask and ye shall receive:

    Liquid Threat

    If use of the second image isn’t okay, let me know and we’ll eliminate it.

  • Gavin Polhemus

    In my endless quest to find new ways to embarrass myself on Cosmic Variance, I misspelled “Terrorist” on my version of the phase diagram. I sent a replacement to Sean (thanks for sharing it, Sean.) If anyone wants to make a tee-shirt, this version has the Terror Alert Status font throughout (Bank Gothic).

    Gavin

  • http://magahiz.com:8080/frabjous/index.html RichM

    Don’t forget that DHMO can be converted to the very hazardous form known as Ice-9.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/products/product/product.asp?product_id=235601696101584895&success=true Zazzle.com T-shirt

    Grant beat me to it, but mine is nicer. Search Zazzle.com for Terror Diagram if link doesn’t work.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Spelling mistake now fixed.

  • Gavin Polhemus

    Anyone who would like can use the red-yellow-orange diagram in anyway they please, no attribution necessary.

    In fact, I don’t want to explain it to anyone from the Department of Homeland Security, so make that “no attribution preferred.”

    Gavin

  • http://murderthoughts.com Phil

    Just wait until they figure out polywater.

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  • http://cosmicwatercooler.blogspot.com beajerry

    I’m geeky, but not enough to want that on a t-shirt.

  • http://predelusional.blogspot.com/ Stephen Uitti

    Comedians lamented the loss of Dan Quayle, you know, because he made their jobs so easy. Doonesbury had whole comics with verbatim quotes. But you know, you have to watch what you wish for.

    I’m hoping that one day, comedians will start writing their own material.

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  • Erik Von Halle

    The DHMO Song
    Mark A. Mandel, © 1997_to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
    There’s a chemical that poses deadly danger to us all
    If we don’t eliminate it, we are headed for a fall
    But our governments refuse to see the writing on the wall
    They’re going to let us die!

    CHORUS (after every verse):
    Ban dihydrogen monoxide!
    Ban dihydrogen monoxide!
    Ban dihydrogen monoxide
    Before it kills us all!

    Dihydrogen monoxide is a chemical to fear
    Uncounted thousands die of inhalation every year
    Yet the FDA allows it in our burgers, beans, and beer
    And never questions why!

    In gaseous form it’s subtle, without color, taste, or smell
    But it’s part of acid rain, and it’s a greenhouse gas as well
    It’s also found in car exhaust, which makes our cities Hell
    And dirties up the sky!

    It’s widely used by industry, and agriculture too
    They dump it on the ground or in the river when they’re through
    And from the ecosystem it gets into me and you
    Which they dare not deny!

    You’ll find dihydrogen monoxide everywhere you go
    In rivers, oceans, lakes, and streams, in air and soil and snow
    Its quantitative formula is simply H2O —
    You’ll get it if you try!

    This verse contributed by Gary McGath]
    How far DHMO has spread no one can safely tell.
    They’ve found it on Europa, and it’s on our Moon as well.
    It may well turn our Solar System to a living hell!
    It’s filling up the sky!

    This verse contributed by Erik Von Halle
    It kills the little children in the safety of their pools,
    It make the politicians always sound like fools,
    Linked to Hypothermia a death that kills and cools
    It’s going to kill us all.

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  • bruce hyman

    the museum of hoaxes had a piece on this last month… “beware of hydrogen in the water”.. some of the comments on the administration’s take on this hypothetical threat are worth the time to go to the site:

    http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/weblog/comments/4270

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  • Paul M

    the reality of chemistry is that it’s trivial to find two relatively harmless compounds that can be mixed to form a high explosive.

    at university I knew someone who was quite adept at making Lead Azide, a high explosive in power form made by mixing two solutions, sodium azide and lead nitrate. Although toxic, you could probably taste the ingredients without flinching or dying on the spot! Lead azide was abandoned in mining as it was so dangerous that nitroglycerine was much safer!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_azide

    these days, you’ll probably find that trying to buy any azide compound will get funny looks at any industrial supplier!

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  • Rachel

    Can you explain to me why a liquid is more likely to react than a solid???????????

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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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