Cross-Discipline Education and Entertainment

Blog Post created by benz on Sep 23, 2016

Originally posted Apr 29, 2013


Things that go bang in the night.  And in the day.  And anytime at all.

Like so many of you I have a wide-ranging curiosity and get a kick out of learning, whether in the RF measurement discipline or elsewhere.  It’s been difficult to find time to write a blog entry in the past few days but I have found time (what does this say about my priorities?) to follow my curiosity to an amazingly entertaining and educational blog.

Educational:  I had always wondered why so many compounds that are useful for “energetic disassembly” are mostly nitrogen.  Isn’t it the boring gas that makes up most of our atmosphere?  Ok, you can get it in liquid form to freeze a banana and then hammer a nail with it but that hardly seems dangerous.  As a matter of fact most of us use nitrogen as an inerting agent to stop things from happening.

Entertaining:  The blog in question had me laughing out loud repeatedly, even while explaining how boring old nitrogen can be so exciting in the form of a solid compound.  I read it to (inflicted it on) my wife and daughter and they laughed too.

The relevant entry series in the blog is entitled “Things I won’t work with” and you’ll find it at

If you’re curious like me just click right on over and read the top two entries on chlorine triflouride and azidoazide azides.  I’ll be here when you come back.

Chlorine triflouride (left) and sodium azide (right). “Exciting” compounds! Images from Wikimedia Commons

Chlorine triflouride (left) and sodium azide (right). “Exciting” compounds! Images from Wikimedia Commons

The entry on chlorine triflouride is full of more entertaining education.  I had always imagined that oxygen would be the most potent oxidizer, but the blog explains just how much more potent an oxidizer can be.  Chlorine triflouride can seemingly cause anything organic or inorganic to burn.  Glass, asbestos, rubber, leather, skin, you name it.

Despite their hazardous and ridiculously enthusiastic nature these compounds play a role in our work and everyday lives.  Chlorine triflouride is used in the semiconductor industry and sodium azide is the propellant in many automobile airbags.  Despite its explosiveness and severe toxicity it has saved a bunch of lives.  With assistance from our sophisticated electronics of course!