"In 1869, with elephants having been poached to near extinction, the billiards
industry granted a $10,000 prize to whoever came up with the best replacement
for ivory billiard balls. John Wesley Hyatt created the winning replacement
which he coated with a new material he found called camphored nitrocellulose—the
first thermoplastic, better known as celluloid. The invention had a brief
popularity, but the Hyatt balls were extremely flammable, and sometimes portions
of the outer shell would explode upon impact. An owner of a billiard saloon in
Colorado wrote to Hyatt about the explosive tendencies, saying that he "did not
mind very much personally but for the fact that every man in his saloon
immediately pulled a gun at the sound". Ironically, in light of the explosive
results, the process was called the "Hyatt Gun Method".
Friday, October 16, 2009
Billiard Ball Bang, this was funny
Nitrocellulose a plastic; also stable, an explosive.