Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

2004 Darwin Awards

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.

Lava Lamp
2004 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

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.

(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.

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 bang.

* Why the instructions warn NEVER to place the lamp directly on a heat source, such as a stove.

Reader Comments:
"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.

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