Fun & Games Science

Watch the video. This is one of those things you kind of have to see happen to understand.

A so-called “stick bomb,” “frame bomb,” or (worst of all) “xyloexplosive device” (Wikipedia) is an arrangement of flat flexible beams, like popsicle sticks or tongue depressors, that are woven together under tension such that they can be “set off” at one point and sort of explosively disassemble starting at that point, with the reaction propagating away along the structure. Like domino toppling, but flashier.

The problem is all of the common names for this trick would probably get you strip-searched if you used them at the airport.

TSA AGENT: “What are you doing with all these popsicle sticks?”

STICKBOMBER: “I’m going to a stick-bomb convention. I mean, I use them to build frame bombs. Haven’t you ever heard of a xyloexplosive device?”

TSA AGENT: “Kindly put your hands in the air and step over here with me, sir. Don’t make any sudden moves.”

I’m not sure I have any better suggestions. But perhaps we can all brainstorm. “Poptomata?” “Spring-frames?” Anyone?

[via Boing Boing]

10 thoughts on “Successor to domino toppling needs better name

  1. They need a catchy, non-strip-searchable refuse-to-mailable name, and that means
    a) Simple and fun enough for the media to enjoy
    b) Does NOT contain explosive words.

    Solution: Ominods! Reverse dominoes, and be sure that every hack will get a real thrill out of explaining that to their local-paper audience. And a new hobby is born!

  2. It’s not really an explosive reaction in the common sense, so all of the “bomb” terms are a bit off anyway. How about saying you’re playing with zip sticks. What’s a zip stick? Well, see, you weave popsicle sticks together like this, and that’s a zip stick. Tap it here, and watch it zip apart.

  3. Successor to dominos? Seriously? What a joke.

    I did play with the idea 20 years ago, it’s fun, but to call it a successor to dominos just discredits both.

    1. “but to call it a successor to dominos just discredits both.”

      Sorry you think so. But, um, how? Was certainly not my intention.

  4. This reminds me of Prince Rupert’s Drops, so… Prince Rupert’s Sticks?
    Hey, if it’s named after royalty, can’t be that bad, can it?

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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