Bringing the Text to Life
Poll the congregation: “Raise your hands if you have seen this in the movies: A cigarette butt tumbles in slow motion into a pool of gasoline, creating an enormous fireball.”
Sure, just about everybody has seen this. It’s an ear-splitting, eyebrow-singeing, cinematic spectacle. Guaranteed to please the action-adventure crowd.
It’s also largely make-believe, one of the many things that happen — ONLY IN THE MOVIES!
Richard Tontarski is an expert in forensic fire at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. He became interested in the link between cigarettes and gasoline because arson suspects frequently claim that a gasoline fire was started by accident. They say things like, “My girlfriend was smoking, I accidentally threw gasoline on her, and she burst into flames.”
So Tontarski and his colleagues went to great pains to create fireballs. Fun work, if you can get it. They dropped burning...