1. Blowing an anvil 200ft into the air. This stunt has scant scientific or educational value, but deserves a prominent place on the list for the presenter’s coltish enthusiasm for explosions.
From science experiments to building demolitions to nuclear tests, there are few things in life more visually impressive than explosions. Here are 15 of the most dramatic.
2. Blowing up a bed. The propane-loving Barry Bernard blew up a a piece of household furniture every week on the Sky science series Braniac. Here he fires a bed high into the air using his “secret” mix of gases.
3. Depth charge mine clearance. According to the blurb accompanying the original video on YouTube, this blast was much larger than the navy mine clearance team intended. The black dust that appears a few seconds after the initial explosion was produced by of a sunk Second World War vessel caught up in the explosion, it is claimed.
4. Earth shaking nuclear test. In 1971 US military scientists detonated Cannikin, a five megaton nuclear bomb, beneath the Alaskan island of Amchitka. The blast was intended to test the geographical impact of a huge underground nuclear blast. As this clip shows, the force of the explosion caused the ground to rise 20ft and led to the formation of a new lake.
5. Blowing up 100 tons of TNT for no apparent reason
6. Creamer cannon. The Discovery Channel’s MythBusters crew have a passion for wild experiments, as this was one of their most explosive. They created a tower of flame by igniting a highly-flammable milk subsitute that was “fired” out of a cannon by compressed air.
7. Tsar Bomba. The largest nuclear device ever detonated was the Tsar Bomba, a 50 megaton device which was set off by the Russians on an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in 1961.This footage shows the blast and the extraordinary mushroom cloud it produced.
8. Dumping barrels of sodium into a lake. After the Second World War 20,000 lbs of sodium – which as every schoolboy knows reacts violently with water – were thrown into Lake Lenore in Washington. This is what happened.
9. Liquid nitrogen in a swimming pool. As stupid pranks go, this is pretty impressive. Anyone for a quick dip?
10. Smoke stack demolished. An amateur video showing the gracefall fall – and explosive landing – of a coal chimney in Minnesota.
11. Classroom experiment goes wrong. The glass-shattering blast is only slightly brighter than the teacher’s garish rainbow coat.
12. Slow motion water balloon explosions. Mesmerisingly beautiful, even without the music.
13. Exploding whale. The presenter of this 1970 news clip insists that dynamite was the only possible way of getting rid of the dead whale that washed up on an Oregon beach. True or not, it made for an unusually colourful blast.
14. Exploding tree. While a bit of a slow-burner, this clip is well worth watching to the end. After catching light on a power line the tree is gradually crippled by flames, before the cable itself explodes.
15. Weapons cache. The Live Leak website hosts hundreds of explosion clips uploaded by US soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This detonation of an enemy weapons dump is particularly eye grabbing.