Science News

How Big Would Guy Fawkes' Bang Have Been ?

Sun, 9th Nov 2003

Part of the show The Safety of Genetically Modified Plants

We light bonfires and set of fireworks on November the 5th to commemorate the fact that in 1605 Guido Fawkes, now known as Guy, failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But physicists from the Centre for Explosion Studies in Aberystwyth have shown that if he had actually succeeded, the results would have been devastating. Guy Fawkes packed about 2,500 kilos of gunpowder under Westminster, so the scientists could work out how big the bang would have been. They calculated that the blast would have destroyed Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey as well as the streets surrounding them. Severe structural damage would have been seen up to a third of a mile away, as far as Whitehall. Fortunately for the government, Guy Fawkes was caught, otherwise the mother of all parliaments could have become the mother of all explosions!


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