(30 November 2004, Washington) Twenty-four year old Philip was found dead
in the bedroom of his trailer home, with burnt remains of a Lava Lamp
strewn over his kitchen. Puzzled investigators eventually pieced together
a likely scenario for Philip's last moments.
The secret of the Lava Lamp is
simple: A light bulb heats a bottle of colored wax and liquid. The
wax is denser than the liquid at room temperature, and sits at the
bottom. As the wax warms, it expands and rises in an undulating
blob. At the top, where the bottle is cooler, the wax becomes cooler
and denser and begins to sink.
Lava lamps are a mesmerizing distraction. Philip couldn't wait to fire up
his new Lava Lamp. He plugged it in and waited for the pretty globs to
begin their surreal dance. But after several frustrating minutes, nothing
happened. Then a bright idea hit him: "Why not accelerate this painfully
slow process?" He took the lamp to the kitchen, placed it on the stove,
and turned up the heat.
In short order, the wax melted and began its sinuous dance. But the liquid
was designed to be warmed by a 40-watt bulb. It was over-heated.
Entranced by the display, Philip forgot that "heat expands". Whereas there
was no room for expansion in the glass bottle, the Lava Lamp resorted to a
violent explosion to relieve the pressure.*
One thick shard of glass blew straight through Philips's chest and into his
heart. Philip stumbled into his bedroom, perhaps uttering "Aeternum
vale!" (latin: farewell forever) as he collapsed and died.
Police found no evidence of alcohol or drug use, so it is safely presumed
that Philip was in full possession of his senses when he went out with a
* Why the instructions warn NEVER to place the lamp directly on a heat
source, such as a stove.
"One should never LOV-A-LAVA too much."
"He "lava" la vida loca!"
"Beware the Lava Lamp."
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Submitted by: Eric Riddle, Bryan Kemp, camtodd, Tom Staton, Regina McLeron, Frank
Reference: Seattle Times, Seattle PI.