Men love beer. Men love explosions. Now if they can
weather one, they get the other. But how can three renegade engineers possibly
protect 672 bottles of beer from boom time? Let's find out.
The boomsticks being used today are PETNA, 20
percent faster than TNT, 10 times faster than a high-powered rifle, with a force
equivalent to 24,000 firecrackers.
First, let's meet these builders...
- ZACH SWERDZEWSKI, a graphic designer and
fabricator from Burbank, CA. You may remember him as one of the hamsters from
Big Brother 8.
- FRANK CARIDI, a mechanic, carpenter, inventor, and black belt in karate.
- VON DEWITT, a co-worker of Zach's, who went from rocker... to metal
fabricator... to custom contractor.. to law student at the University of
The prize this week: a year's supply of beer, 672
bottles. All you have to do is save it. Remember, you can't touch the prize of
the charges. And you have 48 hours to protect the beer from boom time.
First, a little taste of what you're going to go
up against... But it's actually one-third the power of what we're dealing with.
Forty-eight hours... starting now! We start with
a design... They're dealing with compressive force, like Jupiter. What they're
going to do is weld a template, then weld another one behind that. The best
thing that they are going to go with is a concrete sandwich of two pieces of
steel. A bunker, dude. Military. A steel cage... then 22 gauge steel... then
rebar... then plywood... in the middle, concrete... And outside, a sphere of
Now that they have a design, it's time to go to
work. And for that, they're drawing on the floor.
TEST #1: Material Strength.
An explosive charge is in a four-sided chamber.
The sides: steel, plywood, glass, and lexan. Assessing the damage... 22 gauge
steel is slightly bent. Lexan.. is not scratched. Plexi's looking kinda sexy.
They're going to stick with the general design...
They're not deterred by the steel bending, because they're going to have
concrete backing. When they measure the base... they find out that it's too
small. Turns out that they were giving the measurements for the beer pyramid and
not giving it any play. Woops. Well, with 43 hours left, it's a good time as any
to start over. The new frame... is a lot better.
The speed of detonation: 27,000 feet per second.
That leads Mike to ask a couple of questions... and his own solution. One
material, one layer... steel.
Into the night, their measure-twice, cut-once is
not working, and they have to start it over AGAIN. Von and Frank almost come to
blows because of it, but they get it back. At 4a, the team decides to start
breaking off into shifts. Von will be working the graveyard shift trying to
complete the first three layers: steel, steel, and rebar.
31 HOURS UNTIL BOOM TIME.
Von has the rebar up, but before the others go
back to work, Von has an idea... a second flat steel shell instead of a steel
cone. But first... sleepy time. Meanwhile, Zach and Frank get to work on the
plywood and concrete. But Zach & Frank think about scrapping the flat sheet
altogether. Von says it's a protective barrier. They end up going back to the
sheet metal. So it's back at the drawing board.
Mike goes with 3/16" steel in a composite design:
a box on the bottom and a pyramid top.
Meanwhile, the challengers meet... the St. Pauli
TEST #2: Forklift Agility
How capable are you at driving a forklift with 1
ton of weight and two inches of clearance? Von elects to drive for the team...
Big mistake. Not really. He's perfect.
Now to do some donuts. With those antics, the CI/KI
construction supervisor decides to take him out of the forklift. Remember,
folks... Safety is a paramount priority. And they're not union, so...
Meanwhile, the St. Pauli Girl is worried about
mass and displacement. They're going to have to anchor that thing to the ground
in order to save her beer.
Frank decides that they need three pairs of eyes.
He tries to wake Von up. Can't. Zach tries to wake Von up. Can. The design comes
together as they finally load the beer bunker into place. But with such a small
clearance, there's a chance that any reverb will cause the bottles to shatter.
So Zach is working on something that will anchor the rig to the ground.
Meanwhile, Mike's simple beer-a-mid is almost
12 HOURS UNTIL BOOM TIME.
Von gets one more inch at the top, but we can't
get any more if we're to pour concrete. Glad to see he's finally cooled down.
It's starting to come together as a team. They also decide to reinforce the
concrete with... more steel. Will it hold up?
2 HOURS UNTIL BOOM TIME.
Last minute nerves have Frank making last-minute
design changes. They decide to add water to the design using ziploc baggies and
45 MINUTES UNTIL BOOM TIME.
Mike preps his beer-a-mid. Simple. And everyone's
done. Will it survive, though? Remember, a catch is 672 bottles in pristine
condition. One bottle broken... and it's over.
Boom time in three... two... one... BOOM!
Explosive pressure: 1740 tons/square inch... But is it a CATCH? YES!
Will Mike's Beer-a-mid befall the same fate? Yep.
That's also a catch.
And while we toast our new engineering heroes, we
look to our next challenge and our next prize for success. Remember... if they
catch it... they keep it.
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