What is fire? It's definitely not what you think it is.

There’s so much wrong with this article that I won’t even try to correct you. The world definitely doesn’t need more assholes making bullshit up and passing it off as truth. Please remove it or fix it because it’s much better to be silent and have others believe you are ignorant, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Well, that clears all that up. :rolleyes:

Could you at least give us one or two of the biggest mistakes?

Try anyways.


I’m taking bets…

3 to 1 odds (hey the house needs to make a buck) on each of the following…

[li]OP never comes back[/li][li]OP comes back with a serious flawed yet secular explanation[/li][li]OP comes back with some shit like it’s the devils breath, or unicorn farts or some such nonsense[/li][li]OP comes back with a valid and detailed post outlining what is wrong with the column[/li][/ol]

Place your bets!

  1. OP dies in a fire due to misconceptions.

[spoiler]Hey, I didn’t wish on him*, mods. Just offering it as a possibility.

*What are the odds he’s a him? Can we start at 100% and go up from there?[/spoiler]

To a certain extent, I can maybe see a bit where the OP is coming from. The linked article reads like one of Cecil’s more off-the-cuff and flippant columns, and the casual reader may, for example, come to the conclusion that Cecil does not understand that “evolution” in the context of the encyclopedia definition means “gives off,” of course.

In addition, Cecil states that oxygen is necessary for a fire. Not true. Both fluorine gas and chlorine gas will support a flame, as well as some fluorine and chlorine compounds, (including, for example, chlorine trifluoride). Indeed, fluorine is a stronger oxidizing agent than oxygen itself.

Also, Cecil states that heat is an essential ingredient of fire, and that fire “is the rapid combination of oxygen with fuel in the presence of heat.” I would argue that some combinations of oxidizing agent (not necessarily oxygen!) and fuel have such low activation energies that no heat (that would be recognizable as such) is necessary for combustion. Again, an example is chlorine trifluoride, which autoignites on contact with virtually any fuel. This is also true of the various hypergolic rocket propellants.

DUDE! I’m makin’ book here!

All bets off!

I especially enjoyed reading how he thought ‘combustible materials’ was redundant. Encyclopedia Britannica is pretty shitty too. Wikipedia sums it up decently, “Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products”

Key words are ‘rapid oxidation’ and ‘combustion’ (with a combustible materiel…)

It’s also important to distinguish the difference between Fire and Flame. Which Chris’ completely ‘sidesteps’ with his ‘pup qualifier’ while also pointing out his ignorance about charcoal fire, which actually emits a flame. And methanol definitely has a flame, just not in the visible spectrum. The word ‘typically’ has no place in a definition, so I’ll make it clear: Fire CAN burn without flame - fire is just a chemical reaction.

He writes: "We say “incandescent” because (a) it sounds scientific, (b) it means “luminous with intense heat,”… really? Incandescent is specifically electromagnetic radiation emitted due to temperature. Everything can become incandescent at a high enough temperature, such as red hot steel. Which brings me to point 2: lots of the shit emitting incandescence in a fire isn’t gas.

"Emits light and heat. Duh. However, we mustn’t overlook the obvious. "

Heat doesn’t really exist as most people understand it, so it isn’t all that obvious. Light is even more misunderstood. But guess what, a chemical combustion produces light and temperature change. So of all the lovely statements made, this is the only redundant one. Especially because the section before is about INCANDESCENCE. Oh yeah, and you can actually have conditions where the total temperature change is zero, though that is within a closed system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combustion#Temperature

Read Wikipedia for a good answer. For a (very) short answer, fire is a fairly specific chemical reaction. Saying anything more than that requires more than I want to type, especially because it’s well done at http://en.wikipedia.org/wi​ki/Fire

While we’re on about shitty definitions, he’s also defined fractal programs as alive.


That’s an Olympic-class leap to conclusions, there, since first of all, he never actually purports to define life in that column, but instead offers a few proposed definitions, and critiques them all, with the conclusion being that defining life is hard. And second, he never once mentions fractals in that column, as a quick control-F will verify.

The questioner is actually asking “what are flames” and Cecil does mess up somewhat by addressing “fire” only in this limited sense. Not his best work, but I’m sure it’s all due to bad editing.

Who is “Chris” ?

Cite seems to have burned up in a 404 fire.

Well, yes, it is a chemical reaction, but many chemical reactions, even many oxidation reactions, are not fire. Furthermore, people named and recognized fire long before anyone had any concept of a chemical reaction. The problem is to pick out that particular class of chemical reactions, or of oxidation reactions, that count as fire. I would say that the production of flame is a pretty good criterion, that picks out those reactions that were traditionally called fire pretty well.

If you have a better criterion to distinguish fire from other reactions, please tell us. Note however, that calling it “combustion” does not help at all. That is just an alternative, fancier word for fire.

Is this supposed to be a contradiction of what Cecil said? ‘Cause I’m not seein’ it. How is “electromagnetic radiation emitted due to temperature” substantially different from “luminous with intense heat” ?

Did Cecil say it was? I don’t think so.

I think you should read this several times, and contemplate its meaning.

Damn, I could have made some cash on point #1.

Someone’s playing silly URL games. Try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire

There was a horked character in the middle of “wiki”. Fixed link shown above.

It kinda is. “Fire is the combusting of combustible materials” is a totally useless definition. “Fire is the burning of burnable objects”. Um, yeah.

That just begs the question of what is combustion. Wiki’s definition of combustion is somewhat better:

True. Which Cecil addresses by including the definition of flame “a body of incandescent gas…” within his definition of fire.

Once charcoal has fully ignited and coaled so it is fully glowing, none left unignited, it does not produce a large, visible flame. This is what Cecil is trying to convey, in exactly the same way that methanol does not produce a visible flame. And Cecil threw in that entire paragraph in order to state that charcoal and methanol do produce flame, just not a visible one, so it seems odd for you to complain that exact point.

I grant you “emits light and heat” is redundant with “incandescent”. So 1 point to you.