Editor's Pick

Lunch-Break Photos: 'Potato Moment' And Other Exploding Stuff (Why Not?)

I almost felt bad asking Alan Sailer about his photos. According to his Flickr page, he's just an engineer with a hobby. A hobby that has generated a ton of interest. "At one point," he writes in an email, "a picture of a pellet being sliced in two by a razor blade went viral and nearly drove me crazy."

His explosion photos have gone viral on a few occasions and, thanks to the mysterious machinations of the Internet, have lately been resurfacing on various blogs. And though I almost felt bad about joining the ranks ... I didn't really.

  • Lychee Nut Detonation: "I figured out yesterday what lychee nuts are for. I certainly never thought they were for eating."
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    Lychee Nut Detonation: "I figured out yesterday what lychee nuts are for. I certainly never thought they were for eating."
    Photos and captions by Alan Sailer/Alan Sailer
  • The Colored Sands Of Time: "The time is about a microsecond. The colored sand is from a garage sale. The container is a Christmas bulb."
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    The Colored Sands Of Time: "The time is about a microsecond. The colored sand is from a garage sale. The container is a Christmas bulb."
    Alan Sailer
  • California Screaming: "A California poppy being punched out by a green paintball."
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    California Screaming: "A California poppy being punched out by a green paintball."
    Alan Sailer
  • "Three colors of [titanium dioxide]-spiked Jell-O in a Christmas bulb."
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    "Three colors of [titanium dioxide]-spiked Jell-O in a Christmas bulb."
    Alan Sailer
  • Potato Moment: "A picture showing a 40mm wood ball going about 76 meters/second hitting a red-skinned potato."
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    Potato Moment: "A picture showing a 40mm wood ball going about 76 meters/second hitting a red-skinned potato."
    Alan Sailer
  • Carrots Aren't Blue "Another blue carrot death. The projectile is a wooden ball going at about 250 frames per second."
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    Carrots Aren't Blue "Another blue carrot death. The projectile is a wooden ball going at about 250 frames per second."
    Alan Sailer
  • Radial Rhubarb Rhubarb: "Celery didn't work too well, too mono-colored. But I had hopes for rhubarb."
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    Radial Rhubarb Rhubarb: "Celery didn't work too well, too mono-colored. But I had hopes for rhubarb."
    Alan Sailer
  • Faster Radish, Kill Kill! "A pedestrian shot of a super-fast, ultra-light pellet hitting a radish."
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    Faster Radish, Kill Kill! "A pedestrian shot of a super-fast, ultra-light pellet hitting a radish."
    Alan Sailer
  • Vitamin D Struction: "A very fast super ball hits a carton of vitamin D-fortified whole milk. A 240 mph super ball."
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    Vitamin D Struction: "A very fast super ball hits a carton of vitamin D-fortified whole milk. A 240 mph super ball."
    Alan Sailer
  • Pwned: "Got the chess set at a garage sale for a buck. Replaced the head of one pawn with some Play-Doh. Aligned things carefully."
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    Pwned: "Got the chess set at a garage sale for a buck. Replaced the head of one pawn with some Play-Doh. Aligned things carefully."
    Alan Sailer

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Sailer started experimenting when he saw the photography of Jasper Nance on Flickr, he writes. He built his own flash that runs at about 20,000 volts "and is potentially very deadly."

He also uses guns, though he says they scare him. Sailer fires small pellets from a rifle and gets what he considers a successful frame about every 100 tries. "My garage is a complete mess of splattered guck like jello, food and glass," he writes. And if you look through his photos, you'll see why.

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