Immediately after dropping out of high school (1994) I went to work for a "computer recycler" who had some
contracts with large firms at the time- Cisco etc, but also was one of the few people trying to recycle
anything beyond cans and bottles at that point. This meant that we on occasion had to go pick up some really weird stuff.
This time it was an old Lockheed engineer that had died, and his wife knew nothing about all the things he had in his
basement workshop so she called us to clean it out. I took and kept many things from this guy's basement- mercury switches,
soldering irons from the 30s, microfilm, records, pumps, devices, and anything that I couldn't even identify and thus found interesting.
He had a bunch of different chemicals in jars too- some labeled, some not- some in supply-house packaging, some looking to be scavenged.
One of these was an Ajax-sized sealed canister of pure Sodium. FF some months later and I decide that it's time to make use of this item,
as I'd heard things about "fireworks" and such when it hits water. So I saunter up out of my van where we're drinking
beers and listening to music and crack the top, and casually eject it in to a perc pond in Campbell, CA.
The sequence that followed is etched in to my mind. This was a big hunk, several pounds- after throwing it
I heard it hit the water, then some fizzing and thought "aww shit it's just fizzing around, it's a du"- before
I completed the thought of "dud" I witnessed the most powerful explosion I have ever personally seen- about a 60-ft
instant flashing fireball- and then things went in to slow motion. I heard it echo off the hills as "Ohhhhhhhhh Shittttttttttttttt"
formed in my mouth but I wasn't speaking. I recovered from this in 10 seconds or so but then heard something hit the
water again- thinking "WTF?" and it of course exploded again. We went in to flight mode and escaped with tires screeching-
and I've always wanted to do it again :)