The Development And Use Of Explosive Over The Past Century Free Sample


This paper researches on the history of explosives over the past century, its types and usage.

A brief introduction of the explosives has been given. The research question or problem is that the explosives accessibility should be limited and restricted for public use because of its negative effects. The method used has been secondary research.

The explosives have been classified as high, low, primary and blasting agents. Disadvantages of the explosives are concerned with safety and health issues, storage, environmental considerations and misuse. Some other uses of explosives have also been mentioned in the paper such as: aerospace, agriculture, art, demolition, excavation, destroying waste, metal hardening, shooting and welding.

Analysis has been made of the findings. Recommendations are also made that include proper recycling, handling, and regulated so there are no misuses of the explosives. Lastly, strict regulations and laws should be made in relation to the usage of different explosives.


With the recent increase in terrorism around the world, it would be quite interesting to know the history of explosives, their original purpose and their use today. Just the word explosives give a picture of warfare, bombings and killing of the innocent lives; in short for destruction.

Explosives basically are made up of one or more combination of substances with the capability of exploding it self using its own energy. They are categorized by the energy stored unto them. Their power is obtained from oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. These chemical reaction take place as small material transforms into larger volume of heat and gas. The expanding heat and gas have the capability to smash buildings and large objects by exploding through heat, shock or electricity. (Akhavan, 2004)

Explosives of any kind solid, liquid or gas consists of fuel and oxidizer, which helps burn and supply oxygen for the fuel respectively. The burning and expansion of gases takes place in thousandths of a second. The expansion of gases results in vicious shockwave. The more there is the pressure of shockwave, the stronger the blast.

Combustion or fire takes place when            oxygen gas joins with a substance. There are substances that do not explode by themselves but explode when there is oxygen near them. Example include: gas, hydrogen, or alcohol. Although they are not explosives but they can set off when there is oxygen in the air.

The use of chemical explosives could be seen in the peacetime besides in the warfare such as rockets into space, mining projects, and fireworks. Although, explosives were built for various different reasons, they are misused today in harming the society as whole. It is true that several types of explosives developed over the years were used for military reasons, construction, mining and engineering companies and other industrial uses; they should be restricted for any other use and to any persons who are not involved in the above purpose regardless how low the explosives are.


The report is based on secondary research i.e. books and internet sources.


             The research conducted from the internet sources have helped study several classification of explosives, their history, many usages, and types of explosives used over the years.

            There are different classifications of explosives:

High explosives

Deflagrate/low explosives

Primary explosives

Secondary explosives

Blasting agents

High explosives are detonated by the influence of shock. Within millionths of a second, explosions take place. Some of the examples of high explosives include TNT (Trinitrotoluene) or nitroglycerine, RDX and PETN (pentaerythrite tetranitrate). Those that start out by heat are known as primary explosives while the ones starting out by detonator are termed as secondary explosives. High explosives can be mixed with oil to form clay. They become plastic explosives that could take into different shapes to explode directly. Terrorists used this weapon during 1970s and 1980s. It can also be pressed into shape of thin layer to be but into an envelope. (Davis, n.d.)

            Primary explosives are initiators detonate through heat, electricity and shocks. They explode from small explosive materials to large explosions. (Davis, n.d.)

            Deflagrate or low explosives don’t create much pressure but burn very quickly. It takes hardly thousandths of a second to burn all the way through from one end to the other. Low explosives include gun powder or black powder. Although they are low, they produce a solid reaction creating smoke in the air. They are also called propellant explosives. They have enough oxygen for their combustion that burns and not explode. Such explosives differ with the speed of which their energy is delivered. It depends on how powerful powder has been used. Fireworks are also considered as propellant explosives. (Davis, n.d.)

            Blasting agents are used at construction sites, mining places etc. they are safe and less costly. A blasting agent called ANFO (Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel Oil) can cause serious destruction if thousands of pounds are used of it. Some fertilizers contain ANFO. Unfortunately it has been misused by the terrorists around the world because of its easy availability. (Davis, n.d.)

Brief history of explosives

The explosives started off in the 1650s dated back to the Chinese black powder being used for military reason was tailored for mining in England and Hungary. In 1847, a powerful explosive called Nitroglycerine was discovered by Italian chemist named Sobreo. Black powder was the only explosive available until Sobrero’s nitroglycerin, Bottger’s and Schonbein’s nitrocellulose was discovered. Black powder is made up of sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate. Because its capacity to generate heat and gas, it was popular for using as a propellant explosive in fireworks. Black powder also known as gun powder is low explosive as it decomposes at a slow rate.

Afterwards, the genius Alfred Nobel gave birth to dynamite by adding 25% Kieselguhr in the Nitroglycerine to ensure safer management. It was the era of dynamites around the world. (Akhavan, 2004)

Over the period of 100 years, there were modifications in the mixture of nitroglycerine with other substance like wood, Nitro Cellulose, Ammonium Nitrate (adding salt oxidants) and flammable products like TNT and BNT.

TNT was made by Wilbrand from Germany. Its manufacturing started in the year 1891. In 1902 it became a substitute of picric acid and was used as a standard explosive in the Great War. It can transfer from solid to gas quite rapidly. It holds carbon, nitrogen and oxygen in it self. TNT does not explode impulsively. It has to be detonated by another pressure force to initiate the explosion.

Nitroglycerine has been used for the manufacturing of dynamites and other explosives since 1850s. It has been used for military, construction and demolition purposes. In the cold weather, nitroglycerine used to be replaced by nitro glycol. Moreover, it serves as a vasodilator for curing heard diseases. A main component of AFNO Ammonium Nitrate has been used as an oxidizing agent for explosives.  Ammonium Nitrate was one of the major developments of the all which had greater capability to detonate which became popular after disasters like the one in Texas City in 1947. (Akhavan, 2004)

In the 1960’s came the ANFO and water Gels. ANFO captured a significant fraction of explosive dynamite market. AFNO explosive also serves the purpose of peacetime uses. It can result into devastating explosions but still considered slower to detonate than TNT. TNT has high velocity and is more expensive than the AFNO but AFNO is ¼ times powerful than TNT. Because of they were not regulated as the TNT and dynamites, they were taken by the terrorists to be used in making bombs. Some of the bombings took place in New York in the year 1993 and 1995 in Oklahoma City using these explosives. (Akhavan, 2004)

Other explosives developed were known as slurries or water gels. They were made of Ammonium Nitrate solutions and sensitized gels by using TNT or black powder. There usage was limited to the construction and boreholes.

Then there was the development of nuclear explosives. A nuclear device reacts from the ignition of fission and fusion. They are so destructive that can blast the whole city. They are known to be weapons of mass destruction. Their usage has become a debut of international relations policy. There are two types of nuclear weapons:

Atomic bombs- they produce their energy from nuclear fission.

Hydrogen bombs- they produce their energy through nuclear fusion.

The atomic age started in the WWII when the US bombed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world knows the results of these bombing and the death tolls that justifies abandoning of these explosives.


Safety and Health- safety is big issue against using these explosives. The blast from a nuclear explosion could destroy the whole city. Moreover, the radiation in the air remains for a longer period of time even after the heat waves have finished causing long term sickness for the survivors. Thus even in the warfare, this explosive should be restricted.

The four main effects of the blast on a human body are:

Overpressure/shock- this causes an increased pressure damaging internal organs of the human body that may lead to permanent injury or death.

Fragmentation- this includes the debris, and harming the vegetation around the place of blast. It is usually done for mining.

Impact and Heat- the impact of overpressure waves on a human body induces aggressive levels of blast acceleration. This results in injuries that may also become unbearable. Declaration injuries may also take place by being impacted directly against the surface. Explosive fireball may also act as combustible driving force into the body.

Storage-Explosives tend to be expensive to acquire and maintain. There are obstacles as explosives fall into unofficial           hands causing problems.

Environmental considerations           : there are some explosive substances like hydrogen that may cause less oxygenic environment (inhalation risk). Individuals may come across sickness, headache, unconsciousness, and depression and so on. Even death may occur under certain circumstances in the case of hydrogen overexposure. Other explosives that we consider as peacetime like fireworks may cause problems for animals with their loud noise. The toxins used in these substances can cause inhaling problems, ingestion and skin disease. Although they do not pose as such negative effects but improper handling may cause poisoning or bone marrow.

When explosives are used for mining coal, it may destroy vegetation, soil, wildlife, and air quality.

Misuse- explosives that are not fully regulated get misused as they have had over the past years in terrorist activities. Criminal and illegal use of them has become a threat everywhere around the globe now. Explosives are the means through which terrorists win their aims and targets.


From the research above, it justifies the fact that explosives should only be used for engineering, construction, space shuttles and research purposes keeping the health and safety of all the living things around them.

It is true that over the years there have been geniuses who have developed so much to make life easier but unfortunately its mishandling can cause serious hazards for the people, their property and the environment it self. Precautionary measures should be taken while using these explosives should be kept in mind.

We should also learn from the history of using nuclear explosives and how disastrous the outcome was and that it would always produce the same result if ever used again. Although there have been treaties over not using these weapons, there still exists wars due to those in possession with.

Lastly, the problem of terrorism is quite linked with explosive materials being used by them. There shouldn’t be any accessibility to the public of such disastrous monsters that could eat away people’s lives. Terrorism is a global threat which has not been encountered or overcome and may take years to end it.

Other uses of explosives

It would be quite interesting to know that explosives are also used for the following:

Aerospace- boosting rockets

Agriculture- used by farmers to demolish boulders or tree stubs

Art- for craving the mountains

Blasting of coal


Demolition- building, towers, bridges etc

Manufacturing of diamonds- grinding and polishing of jewelry

Excavation- clearing underwater channels

Destroying hazardous waste

Security systems

Medical uses

Metal hardening- this includes railways or railroads

Driving pile- dynamites help explode piles

Shooting in sports



Explosives that contain toxic substances like sulfur or nitrates must be properly disposed to avoid pollution of the air, land and water.

Explosives that are used at the constructions sites must be used and handled carefully to avoid any injuries or mishaps.

Explosives that are dangerous to the environment should be kept to minimum use.

Terrorists should be prevented from acquiring any sort of chemical explosives.

There should be license for using such explosives as it cannot be determined whether the person may perform a terrorist act with it.

Cleaner explosives should be built that generate less radio active waves.

Strict rules and regulations should be made regarding the usage of each type of explosives ranging from high to low.

Injuries at the construction sites can be prevented if the workers wear proper protection suits to survive any blasts or unpleasant event.


Explosives are tend to be used for various purposes and yet justifiable purposes by the businesses. However, explosives that are hazardous to the environment and the people should not be used. Regardless of the benefits explosives gives its misuse can cause serious damage to the world. Thus they should be carefully regulated and monitored. This probably may help encounter the biggest threat of terrorism.

Besides the above reason it should not be forgotten that many explosives being used may affect the health of the people. Thus safety of the public should be the main focus. Similarly animal life should also be protected by not using explosives that may disrupt wildlife. In the end we must aim for cleaner environment that is free from contaminated soil, water or land.


Akhavan, J (2004) The Chemistry of Explosives, Royal Society of Chemistry

Davis , T (n.d.) The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives, Angriff Press


Jazz And The Blues

The roots of Jazz music and the blues, being intertwined with each other, are as colorful as their names, literally, because it is the music of colored people, African-American slaves, who toiled in the fields of the Southern plantations.  The blues were generally believed to be songs sang by the workers while working in the fields and is generally believed to have originated from African spirituals, African chants, work songs, field hollers, rural fife and drum music, revivalist hymns, and country dance music. (Kopp, 2005)  Jazz preceded the blues in origin as it was first sang and played in Louisiana in New Orleans; just up river along the Mississippi Delta is the place where Jazz was born.  These two musical forms are alike in many ways and grew up almost hand in hand.

The earlier forms of jazz and the blues are not quite different from the kinds that we have today.  Jazz was accepted in more places earlier so it was not until the 1930’s and 40’s that the blues made its way to the South and the Midwest.  The migration of the blues to the South and the Midwest resulted in its evolution.  Soon enough there were many forms of the blues like ‘Chicago blues, other regional blues styles, and various jazz-blues hybrids.’ (Kopp, 2005) Some time in the 1950’s the Blues evolved significantly and gave rise to rhythm ‘n blues and rock ‘n roll.  There is no single person to whom the discovery of the Blues could be attributed to although there are certain people who claim that they are the ones who are responsible for the development of this musical form.  Among those who claim that they originated the genre are H.C. Handy who claims to have acquired the genre from a street guitarist in Mississippi.

The first recorded piece of music that could be referred to as the Blues is a song titled, “Laughing Song” by George Johnson. (McElrath, 2008)  Soon, when the Blues became popular in more urban areas, various forms emerged, like Traditional county blues, Jump blues,

Boogie-woogie, Chicago blues, Delta blues electrified, Cool blues, West Coast, The Texas blues, Memphis blues, St. Louis blues, Louisiana blues, Kansas City, British blues, rock-blues hybrids, New Orleans, and blues rock.  These forms had custom features that characterized the region or the country where they developed.  Pioneers and advocates of this music form include Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson (Kopp, 2005), Blind Willie McTell and Barbecue Bob (McElrath, 2008); early blues singers included Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters. (McElrath, 2008)

            The early part of the 20th century was a difficult era for the African-Americans – they had to deal with discrimination, slavery, poverty, as well as many other social concerns.  Most of the early forms of the blues gave emphasis on the individual as it was mostly used as a form of communication among workers, or to keep time.  A feature of the blues that denotes its function in this period is the quality of its lyrics which mostly talked of overcoming personal adversity and earning your own luck.  These lyrics clearly showed that a primary function of the blues was to assert that each person was responsible for his own destiny (McElrath, 2008) – this basically means that Blues songs were constant reminders of individual struggles and how these struggles were overcome.  Socially, the Blues, other than serving as a musical testament to the difficult years of the Negroes, moved on to becoming a popular form of entertainment and worship.  The Blues did not remain as slow, and dragging melodies of this era, rather, it became more popular as lively music in pubs, street parties, as well as religious services owing to its versatility and resiliency.

            There are many reasons that influence the development of music as well as its accessibility.  In relation to the Blues, it can easily be concluded that the events that shaped this particular musical genre can be the cause for its popularity as compared to classical music.  Jazz is the music of the masses of the late 1800s and the early 1900s while classical music can be traced back to its European origins in Medieval Rome where it began and developed through the Renaissance period.  Classical is derived from the Latin word, ‘classicus’ which means ‘taxpayer of the highest class’; classical music was generally an elite form of music. (Greene, 2006)  This alone can explain why Jazz is more accessible to the ordinary listener than classical music – classical music is only for the trained and seasoned ear, while Jazz can be appreciated by almost anybody who can relate not just to the lyrics but to the general concept of human struggle.

            Like other more recent musical forms, Jazz has its own qualities that appeal to the general public.  It has to be understood, however, that some musical forms like rock and roll developed as a fusion of blues, gospel, and country music.  Jazz, which traces back its origins to the early 1920s is considered art music in some of its forms but is more often referred to as popular music which includes types like the sentimental ballads of the mid-19th century, the music of the dance halls and pleasure gardens as well as the music hall and the operetta repertory.   Jazz shares this category along with swing and soul; Swing also has its West African origins while soul was performed by African-Americans in the 1960s – this shows that most of the popular musical genres nowadays created for a general audience, either have the same basic characteristics as Jazz or are probably even evolutions of Jazz, itself.  Jazz can be heard almost anywhere nowadays, mostly in pubs in gospel or religious gatherings, in concerts, on the radio, as soundtracks for movies, and even on television; but this was not the case when Jazz started; during its early years, Jazz was played around secret, intimate, campfire gatherings of African-American slaves who were forbidden any kind of pleasure – this was their form of entertainment.

            Jazz is a musical treasure, and in particular, I am drawn to the sense of history of this musical genre as well as feeling of propriety and pride that it invokes.  As is generally accepted, music is supposed to invoke specific emotions in a person, and Jazz in particular is able to give me a sense of history and pride.  It is this particular feature of jazz that makes it easy for me to identify with it.  Music, in all its forms, serve to allow man to experience the intangible; most of the time, these intangibilities comprise the greatest good.  We are all travelers in this journey that we all refer to as life, and for us to be able to get the most out of life, we should all be able to recognize things that are important and possess great value.  Music feeds the soul allows us humans to experience cherished things that make life worth living.

Works Cited

Green, Aaron . “Intro to Classical Music.”   2006. 6 Mar. 2009 <>.

Kopp, Ed. “A Brief History of the Blues.” All About Jazz. 16 Aug. 2005. 6 Mar. 2009 <>.

McElrath, Jessica . “The History of Blues Music: An Overview.” 13 May 2008. 6 Mar. 2009 <>.


The Devil In The White City

 Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City is about the creation and execution of the 1893 World’s Fair, the Columbian Exposition and the actions of America’s first known serial killer. A powerful portrait of America in the 1890s, the book represents the best and worst of the Gilded Age. The book focuses on two men, Daniel Burnham, the mastermind behind the Fair, and H.H. Holmes, America’s first known serial killer. Both men work tirelessly to achieve their goals and both prove to be quite successful; Burnham gets his grand affair and Holmes manages to kill a number of people. Overall, The Devil in the White City is about the importance of being important.

Throughout the book, Daniel Burnham works very hard to get the World’s Fair in Chicago and succeed. The beginning of the book starts at the end, almost twenty years after the fair, and Larson lets the reader know how tired the older Burnham is as he tries to relax on a ship voyage. From here we go backwards with Burnham and find out what why he is so exhausted. Through the book we learn the history of Chicago and what it meant to Burnham and his cohorts to be the best. Completely ignoring the outstanding plight of Chicago (the stench from the infamous stockyards is mentioned often) and obsessed with the success of the World’s Fair in Paris, specifically the amazement of the Eiffel Tower, Larson portrays these professional, educated, sophisticated men as boys who are only looking out for themselves.

=As for the serial killer, Holmes, we get to watch him plan his madness around the building of the great Fair. As soon as he finds out where the Fair is going to be held in Chicago, Holmes gets to work, readying his life as a psychopathic murderer. From his first introduction, we know that Holmes is a bad man, someone who thinks nothing of lying, cheating, even killing, solely for his own personal gain. Even at the end, when Holmes is found guilty of murder and sentenced to die, he goes to his grave reveling in his own importance. And the fact that people continued to cater towards this convicted killer only enhances Holmes’ self-centered beliefs.

Erik Larson did an amazing amount of research for this book. With over 25 pages of notes and sources, he proves that this book is as factual as it gets. Further proof of that is when he admits that he used dramatic license when describing two death scenes that only Holmes and the victim would have witnessed. Larson said that his main source of inspiration for those scenes was from Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, another history/true crime/feels like a novel book about violent murder. He also read from the testimonies of Holmes’ trial on how one of the murders most likely occurred. Aside from those two parts, the main source of the book appears to be Larson’s findings at various institutions in Chicago.

At the Chicago Historical Society, Larson was able to find actual writings by one of the more important characters in the book, Patrick Prendergast, the assassin who kills the mayor of Chicago at the end of the fair, among other primary sources. He also used the archives at the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago, which is housed in one of the two buildings left from the 1893 World’s Fair. Larson also credits Chicago travel guides, two current and two from the 1890s as valuable to his research methods. I think even more credit should be given to the author for not relying heavily on the autobiographical memoir that Holmes wrote while he was in prison. This would have been Holmes’ worst nightmare, that he was not in charge of telling his own story.

If a friend had recommended The Devil in the White City to me and not mentioned it was non-fiction, I might have thought it was a really good novel. Larson wrote this book for people to read, not for people to use for one or two pages of research. The review on the front cover by the San Francisco Chronicle says “As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find.” Larson managed to take a subject (History) that a lot of people would say is boring and made it the opposite. He created characters, developed plot, drew a setting, and made connections that some fiction writers cannot even do. The way Larson describes Holmes is captivating. The re-occurring life insurance policies that Holmes is forever trying to get people to sign up for is a constant reminder of this evil man’s motives.  Even his non-violent actions, such as deserting his first wife, trying to commit insurance fraud and selling the original pharmacy before opening a new one across the street, make Holmes a character you feel like you have read about in a mystery. When you remember that Holmes was a real person, this is even more unsettling, knowing a man like this actually existed.

Two people vaguely mentioned in the book left me with questions. First, why was Buffalo Bill Cody not allowed to have his act inside the fair? The organizers turned him down as “incongruity”( 133). But when Cody immediately purchases the land next to the fair to set up his show, why didn’t the organizers change their minds, knowing how successful Cody’s act would be? I understand the class issue of their reasoning but from a business standpoint, it did not make sense. I would have liked Larsen to explain more of the fair organizers feelings as they saw how successful the Wild West Show was. Also, I would have liked to have learned more about Holmes’ second wife, Myrta. I understand that when Holmes left New Hampshire, he would not have heard from his first wife, especially considering he had changed his name. But Myrta and their child were still around Chicago with her family but she is never mentioned after Holmes’ marriage to Minnie.

I also would have liked  more historic photographs or drawings. Larson did so well at describing the scenes that photographs and drawings were not necessary but they would have added to the historical aspect of the story more. Like any good true crime novel, there should always be a center section of photographs. Understandably there may not have been photographs available of many of the victims, but Larson mentions photographs, especially when Detective Geyer is searching for the Pitezel children.

In terms of historical popularity, the 1890s is not a time period Americans seem to care much about. So soon after the Civil War and so close to the new century, this decade gets lost in history textbooks.  I feel that Larsen’s book cannot be compared with the textbook at all, because the textbook is expected to encompass so much more than a non-text book based on one part of American History.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in American history, true crime or from Chicago. Because Larson writes like a novelist, there is a great deal of suspense in the book; he does an excellent job making Holmes into a terrifying villain. He also describes Chicago so well I could easily picture Jackson Park going from a nothing swamp to the White City. Larson also explores an era that was vital to what America is now but is so often overlooked in history. I think this is a great book for a class assignment because it is so well written, students would not realize how much they are being taught while being entertained.

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