Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crusoe vs the Pirates

The pilot of the new NBC series Crusoe featured pirates. The series is loosely based on Robinson Crusoe. Very loosely. With a lot of other influences.

A big influence was the movie Swiss Family Robinson which was Robinson Crusoe with a family. In the Disney movie a family was shipwrecked on an island and built an elaborate tree house. Crusoe manages to build a comfortable tree house of his own. The Swiss Family also fought off pirates with traps. Crusoe does the same.

One thing I really liked - an accurate depiction of gunpowder. Gunpowder will not fire if it is wet but it can be dried again. Also, a bullet fired into a barrel will not set it off. It will just make a hole in the barrel. We see this in Crusoe.


Near the end of the pilot, Crusoe needs to detonate a barrel of gunpowder at a distance. He stuck the iron scouring stick (aka ramrod) in the barrel of his gun and heated the end of it then fired it into the barrel.

Would this actually work? Maybe. Touching a red hot piece of iron to gunpowder would set it off. There are a few other factors:

1) How straight does a scouring stick fly when shot out of a musket? Would it travel like a spear with the heated end first?

2) After traveling a distance, would the hot end cool off or would it still be hot enough to set off the powder?

3) Would a red hot scouring stick penetrate a barrel or would it flatten? The end would have been pretty soft.

This seems like something that the Mythbusters should try.

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