Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Breaking News

I hope this just turns out to be some drunk celebrity or something.


BREAKING NEWS: United Airlines flight 923 from London to Washington D.C. was diverted to land at Logan Airport due to a disturbance on the plane. A pilot declared a security emergency and three passengers had a confrontation with the flight crew.

UPDATE: WRKO (680 AM) is reporting that a woman, hopefully one of those causing the disturbance, was found tied up in the back of the plane. It is also being reported that a screwdriver, matches, Vaseline, and a note mentioning Al Qaeda we recovered from the airplane.

UPDATE: It's now being reported that Fox News anchor, Greta van Susteren, was a passenger on the plane.

(insert conspiracy theory of your choice here)

UPDATE: In case you're wondering...

From the Chemistry Archive at "Ask A Scientist":

Petroleum Jelly and Flammability

It is certainly quite flammable.

But it can only be explosive if it is mixed with approximately the right amount of oxygen or other oxidizer. Sitting around in air does not push much oxygen into the jelly, so that is not explosive. I think the jelly does not evaporate enough at room temperature to make explosive vapors over it. But I cannot be sure.

At some slightly elevated temperature, a little above its "Flash Point" which is 50 degrees C in one MSDS I found, the vapors in a deep or closed cup with petroleum jelly on the bottom may explode when ignited. Drug-store Vaseline might have a slightly higher (safer) flash-point temperature.


Somehow making a spray of it (an "aerosol") is also a bad idea.

The fire of such jelly tends to float in the air just over the jelly for a little while. A little like "Sterno", if you have ever watched that burn. If you smear a little on a towel and light it, outdoors, I think you will find the fire can be smothered fairly easily by throwing a second towel or blanket over it. Wet towel, even better.

But I would not wear it on my hair and smoke a cigarette. Likewise, I would not smear it all over my pajamas and run a soldering iron.

Yeah, that's probably some good advice.

UPDATE: It's now being reported that Greta van Susteren was on this same flight, a few days ago, and not on the plane diverted to Logan this morning.

UPDATE: It's no being reported that the earier reports of items recovered from the plane may be inaccurate. It's looking more and more like just some nutjob freaking out on a plane.