This is going to be one of the weirder questions that this board has ever seen, I’m sure.
It came from the plot of an episode of the Andy Griffith Show. A goat found a case of dynamite and ate the whole thing. Andy, Barney, and the whole gang were worried that the animal would go off. They were careful not to upset the goat or have it have any impact in any way. One guy thought it would be a good idea to shoot the goat, but that idea was quashed because the goat might fall over and, you know, kablooey!
What would actually happen in this case? Could a goat actually eat a whole case of TNT? Does TNT go off on impact, or does it need some sort of fire to set it off? If the former (and I’m thinking that’s how guns work), wouldn’t the goat chewing it set it off? Wouldn’t the acids in the goat’s stomach render the TNT inert?
It’s just these sorts of questions that ruin the television experience for me…
It sounds a bit like the plot of Henry Lawson’s The Loaded Dog, except that in that story the dog didn’t eat the explosive, but just carried it in its mouth (with the fuse lit). So Lawson’s story doesn’t raise the question of the interaction of the explosive and the animal’s stomach (before the explosive goes off, of course).
(And Lawson’s short story is well worth reading – the above link is to a copy.)
Commercial Dynamite is nitroglycerin (NG) combined with an absorbant, usually cellulose like wood sawdust or amonium nitrate, material that acts to desensitive the explosive and provide structure to it. The result is a mixture rather than a new chemical compound and the nitroglycerin can/does come back out of the mixture in high temperatures and if left alone for a period of time. You’ll find some reference to “turning” the dynamite in storage to keep the NG from separating out. The leaking or pooling NG is just as sensitive as the original to shock initiating. The dynamite is usually listed with a percentage in its name, i.e. 40%, which reflects the percentage of NG in the mixture. There are various “safer” combinations which encapsulate the NG retarding the time it takes for the liquid to settle out of the mixture. It would be toxic to the goat if a crate was eaten. NG by itself is very sensitive to shock especially if frozen.
TNT is an entirely different explosive. Also toxic in “crate” quantities. Insensitive to incidental shock [yes, you can hit it with a bronze or berillium hammer]. Workers here are subject to weekly blood tests and are removed from the TNT processing areas when abnormalities show up. Some take up to a month to recover [eliminate from the system] before they can go back to work in the TNT area. They do other explosive work, just not with the exposed TNT. The levels they are exposed to are very low but even with protective mask, clothing, and gloves; the TNT builds up in the body.
Note that “Military Dynamite” is actually just TNT in a cylinder or rectangular block form. No NG is involved. It’s about 60% as powerful as a similar sized block of commercial dynamite.
The Dynamite, on two levels. Firstly nitro is acutely poisonous, and can kill you if you swallow just a few grams. In contrast you’d probably need to eat 100 grams or more of TNT to kill you. Goats are more resistant to oral poisoning than people, but you’d expect the same ratios to apply.
Second, nitro is less stable, and a crate that has been left lying around where a goat can get to it is liable to be sweating. There was an old method of eliminating feral pigs which involved placing a detonation cap in the feed source. The pressure of the animals’ teeth was more than enough to detonate the explosive and kill the animal. Chewing on a stick of sweating Dynamite is likely to produce the same effect, but if it did detonate it would almost certainly trigger the whole box, vaporising the goat and leveling any nearby structures.