Saturday, July 09, 2005

London Thoughts

My heart goes out to the people who were murdered by terrorists in London last week. I'm also thinking of Those who were injured face a long road of rehab and recovery. Some may never heal. I salute those who with courage and stoicism got on a bus in London the next day. Those of us who live in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, know what it feels like to get on a bus and glance around for suspicious objects and people, to wonder if you will arrive at your destination alive and whole. All the Brits I know are pretty tough people though, so I know Britain will get through this with flying colours.

I love this piece, entitled "We Cannot Surrender", written by Christopher Hitchens:
We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.
The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.
(found via Baldilocks).
I'm also delighted by the various poems and drawings contained in this lovely post at Pejmanesque.

The London terrorist attacks brought to mind something I read back in June 2002, Star columnist Rosie DiManno described the physics of what happens when a bomb goes off in a closed space, such as a bus. I googled to see if I could find that column. Here's the part I remembered:
The explosive material packed around the device, Semtex or dynamite, say, releases an eruption of energy that heats up the contents of the bomb [...] a pressure wave that cannot be contained within the puny confines of a steel bus. Think of water boiling in a lidded pot. The lid will not hold.

This super-hot air will melt and warp everything in the immediate vicinity. It will turn the metal framework of a bus into instant shrapnel, over and above the shrapnel (the nails) fitted into the bomb itself. Now the bus becomes a killing instrument of metal and glass and fire.

The force of the blast is determined by the quantity of the explosive. An average bomb,the kind strapped around a suicide terrorist's waist, covered by a shirt, would likely detonate at a rate of about 28,000 feet per second or about 22 times faster than a 9 mm bullet leaving the muzzle of a handgun. That means that the surrounding air pressure, normally 15 pounds per square inch, would spike to 2,200 pounds per square inch. Such heat and pressure will melt iron.

A person sitting nearby would feel, momentarily, a shock wave slamming into his or her body, with an "overpressure" of 300,000 pounds. Such a blast would crush the chest, rupture liver, spleen, heart and lungs, melt eyes, pull organs away from surrounding tissue, separate hands from arms and feet from legs. Bodies would fly through the air or be impaled on the jagged edges of crumpled metal and broken glass.
(Found about halfway down this page)


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