23
Feb
10

Satan’s Kimchi

More linky, less thinky.

First we have a saga from the delightfully loquacious Larry Correia:

Hyperbole needn’t be a bad thing:

You know the spice made out of giant Dune worms that makes your eyes turn weird colors, travel through time, and knife fight Sting?  No, this is worse. These spices are made from a pepper that evolved on a strange alien world of firey death pain suffering.  This pepper laughs at jalapenos. This pepper makes the habenero its bitch. This pepper has no name, and the ancient Middianites who discovered it referred to it only as – TERRIBLE SHRIEKING DOOM – before it destroyed their entire civilization.  This pepper exists in multiple quantum dimensions at one time. This pepper divides by zero.Are you guys getting me yet? Can you feel it?  It is watching you…

So one of these pepper seeds was discovered and brought to Layton Utah. (It was probably discovered on the moon, hell if I know).  The seed was then planted in a giant tub, but instead of soil, it was placed in a fine dust made of ground habeneros and napalm.  It was watered daily with shoggoth tears. Villagers sacrified chickens to the Seed. The Seed sprouted (henceforth to be known as the Sproutening)  during a lunar and solar eclipse (at the same time!) under Halley’s comet.  The pepper grew, and soon replaced Pluto as the ninth planet in the solar system.

(Emphasis added.)

That does give one to wonder — how do you make a shoggoth cry? Maybe they have body-image issues, and the seed’s cultivators brought in the Fuck You, Penguin guy to taunt them.

You think you’re so awesome just because you killed off all the Elder Things?  Just ’cause you live forever in their hidden cities deep in the ice-sheets of Antarctica?  Well, you’re not, and you’re still fat.  Tekeli-li, motherfucker.

It gets better from there.  RTWT.

From Mr. Correia’s eloquent extravagance we go to Derek Lowe’s restrained acerbicity.  Yep, it’s time for another Things I Won’t Work With!

Today we’re talking about a compound whose formula — FOOF — sounds like a lab exploding.

Here’s how the experimental prep of today’s fragrant breath of spring starts:

The heater was warmed to approximately 700C. The heater block glowed a dull red color, observable with room lights turned off. The ballast tank was filled to 300 torr with oxygen, and fluorine was added until the total pressure was 901 torr. . .

And yes, what happens next is just what you think happens: you run a mixture of oxygen and fluorine through a 700-degree-heating block. “Oh, no you don’t,” is the common reaction of most chemists to that proposal, “. . .not unless I’m at least a mile away, two miles if I’m downwind.” This, folks, is the bracingly direct route to preparing dioxygen difluoride, often referred to in the literature by its evocative formula of FOOF.

But it’s not all fire and brimstone.  Along with this delightfully disturbing image of red-hot heater blocks suffused with elemental oxygen and fluorine, Dr. Lowe introduces us to another chemist who goes clickity-clack when he walks: Dr. A. G. Streng of Temple University.  This fellow, well…

Not only did Streng prepare multiple batches of dioxygen difluoride and keep it around, he was apparently charged with finding out what it did to things. All sorts of things. One damn thing after another, actually:

“Being a high energy oxidizer, dioxygen difluoride reacted vigorously with organic compounds, even at temperatures close to its melting point. It reacted instantaneously with solid ethyl alcohol, producing a blue flame and an explosion. When a drop of liquid 02F2 was added to liquid methane, cooled at 90°K., a white flame was produced instantaneously, which turned green upon further burning. When 0.2 (mL) of liquid 02F2 was added to 0.5 (mL) of liquid CH4 at 90°K., a violent explosion occurred.”

And he’s just getting warmed up, if that’s the right phrase to use for something that detonates things at -180C (that’s -300 Fahrenheit, if you only have a kitchen thermometer). The great majority of Streng’s reactions have surely never been run again. The paper goes on to react FOOF with everything else you wouldn’t react it with: ammonia (“vigorous”, this at 100K), water ice (explosion, natch), chlorine (“violent explosion”, so he added it more slowly the second time), red phosphorus (not good), bromine fluoride, chlorine trifluoride (say what?), perchloryl fluoride (!), tetrafluorohydrazine (how on Earth. . .), and on, and on. If the paper weren’t laid out in complete grammatical sentences and published in JACS, you’d swear it was the work of a violent lunatic. I ran out of vulgar expletives after the second page. A. G. Streng, folks, absolutely takes the corrosive exploding cake, and I have to tip my asbestos-lined titanium hat to him.

(Emphasis added.)

Chlorine trifluoride, you may recall from earlier episodes of TIWWW, is a cheerful little compound that sets sand on fire.

So where can one obtain something like FOOF without heating up elemental fluorine and oxygen to 700 degrees fucking Celcius?  For the most part, one can’t, and given that my lab’s in the same city as the chemistry department I’m surprisingly okay with that.  But rather improbably, there is one industrial supplier listed:

That would be the Hangzhou Sage Chemical Company. They offer it in 100g, 500g, and 1 kilo amounts, which is interesting, because I don’t think a kilo of dioxygen difluoride has ever existed. Someone should call them on this – ask for the free shipping, and if they object, tell them Amazon offers it on this item.

Commenter RB Woodweird runs with the idea:

I would like to order a couple of kilos of FOOF from Hangzhou Sage Chemical just to see the crater on Google Maps.

Fluorine compounds almost make me wish I’d gone into chemistry.  Azides, too.

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4 Responses to “Satan’s Kimchi”


  1. February 23, 2010 at 20:37

    I’m still speechless that people mess around with stuff like this.
    Sure beats packing an old CO2 cartridge with matchheads….

  2. 2 DrCruel
    July 9, 2013 at 22:57

    Dr. Streng makes Walter White look like Bill Nye.


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