I finally got the chance to catch up on some of my “where do you find this stuff?!” newsfeeds, and came across this fabulous video of an experiment that most of us would love to perform. The question answered by the experiment: what happens when you throw a box of trash into an active volcano, with molten lava surging in the crater?
Just to be sciencey, here are the stats:
The test was performed with a box of camp waste (largely food rests) in a bin bag. Estimated weight 30kg, Size 60x60x60cm. Fall height, about 80m.
(What are “food rests”? I’m assuming leftovers and unused parts? Also, 30 kilograms, wow. That’s a lot of camp waste. Now I understand why it took two people to toss it over the edge.)
The result of the test is rather spectacular.
(UPDATE: The original video has been removed from YouTube; a cached copy can be viewed here.)
I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to immediately find the nearest active volcano. What a gas! (Sorry.)
This brings up another bit of geekness regarding objects falling into lava: the fact that movies never get it right. Remember Gollum falling into Mount Doom at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? And how he splashed in, and floated, and finally sank in a very theatrical way until just the ring was left in view? Wrong, wrong, wrong.
What screenwriters seem to forget is that lava is molten rock. It’s thick, viscous stuff. If a lightweight human being fell onto it, that human would go splat, not splash. The effect would be similar to falling on concrete — really, really hot concrete. Instead of a picturesque sinking, there would be an ugly burning. On the other hand, given the amount of water in the human body (which would likely flash to steam), there might also be some impressive fountaining of lava, just like in this video. Why don’t we see that in the movies?