The Darwin Awards

1999 Darwin Awards

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Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it in the most spectacular way possible.

Intelligence Blunders
1999 Darwin Award Winner Confirmed True by Darwin

TNT: trinitrotoluene. A yellow crystalline compound that is a flammable toxic derivative of toluene; used as a high explosive.

(13 August 1999, Manila) A deadly explosion in the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation was initially considered to be a terrorist act. But the ensuing investigation linked the event not to criminals, but to careless NBI agents smoking near a bucketful of TNT. The blast killed seven people, including the perpetrator, and demolished the NBI Special Investigation Division. Grenades and other explosives also detonated in the fire. Officials are considering charging the Division Chief with criminal negligence for failing to safeguard seized explosives. But it is the perpetrator, envisioned crushing out his cigarette in a pail of explosives, who wins a Darwin Award.

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Submitted by: Steve Evans

Reference: Associated Press


Jason Parker argues:
It is not possible to detonate TNT by smoking around it. TNT does not ignite, it DETONATES, meaning a shock wave of high intensity is necessary to make it explode. This shock wave is usually provided by a small charge of low explosive such as a blasting cap. A less common means of ignition is an ignition fuse, but the story does not indicate that this type of fuse was present.

Jon D. says, "Regarding stories about cigarettes or other lit objects falling into buckets of TNT and causing explosions: I've read that TNT will ignite if incandescently lit, but only explode with a detonator. There is a story on the 'net about a professor with an ashtray made from TNT. Also, since TNT melts at 80 degrees Celsius, it's solid at room temperature, and probably easier to store as bricks.

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