November 6, 2005

Go Ahead -- Be Silly!

Hatched by Dafydd

I think this is good news. Or maybe it's just silly news.

BlackFive reports that soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have problems with houses that have been booby trapped with tiny tripwires (so small they're invisible in the dark) attached to explosives, have found an amazing way to find those tripwire threads: Silly String!

Evidently, they spray the stuff into dark areas; when it floats down, it allegedly is caught by the tripwires, dangling from them. Since Silly String is bright, it makes the booby traps easy to spot and avoid, or to detonate from a safe distance.

Now, I caution that this could be a hoax; I have no way of knowing. It seems pretty reasonable on its face. BlackFive links to this website (not a blog), which has authentic-looking photos of the site author testing the theory in his home. And there's nothing inherently preposterous: Silly String is much, much lighter than a human brushing against a wire: it seems unlikely that it would have enough weight to trip the explosion.

I wonder how old this idea is? Silly String was around in the early seventies; supposedly, it was invented in 1969 -- so theoretically, it could have been used in Vietnam. But you'd think if this trick were a mainstay, BlackFive would have heard of it before. So is this new? Anybody out there use Silly String in previous military engagements to find invisible tripwires?

This is either a spectacularly clever practical joke -- or else it's a spectacular example of American ingenuity and sideways thinking, coming up with a brilliant solution using a child's toy to prevent Coalition and Iraqi forces from being killed by terrorists.

Either way, I reckon it's good news!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 6, 2005, at the time of 2:51 AM

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Tracked on November 6, 2005 4:18 PM


The following hissed in response by: RBMN

I believe it. Absolutely do. Can you think of any group of people who’s participated in more hands-on research, on the properties of Silly String, than all those 20-year-old males that constitute today's American military? The birthday parties alone ...

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 6, 2005 7:22 AM

The following hissed in response by: Linh_My

RBMN understate my position. I remember training at NRTS (National Reactor Test Facility in Idaho) in 1966. They had a nice little and expensive model train worth over a $100.00 that the Sailors had persuaded the facility to buy. It ran under the reactor vessle and carried samples to be irridiated in its little toy cars.

Now in 1966 $100.00 was a lot of money for a toy train. The comercial design that was scrapped in favor of the toy train was projected to cost over $10,000.00. Some of these kids in the military do get some pretty good ideas.

But I can also see the NYT editorial if something like this came to light today, "USN spends hundreds on toy trains for Sailors."

The above hissed in response by: Linh_My [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 6, 2005 12:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

I don't have any trouble at all believing our troops in Iraq are smart enough to think of an idea like that. And, even if the idea didn't originate over there, Blackfive has enough active-duty readers that you can bet the idea will be getting around over there now.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 6, 2005 2:26 PM

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