Kid Accidentally Concocts New Explosive Molecule

Admittedly, I did spend my childhood playing with explosives. But I certainly never had as much success as 10-year-old Clara Lazen (not pictured), who accidentally created a new energy storing molecule, tetranitratoxycarbon, that could be used as an explosive.

Using one of those molecular modelling sets we all messed with in school, Clara forged a combination of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon atoms that stumped her fifth-grade teacher. So he put the call out to Robert Zoellner (pictured) at Humboldt State University to see if it was indeed a real molecule. His searches through an online chemical database returned no exact matches, which meant that Clara had in fact discovered a brand new molecule.

Tetranitratoxycarbon, as it's called for short, uses the same combination of atoms as nitroglycerin, and also has a knack for storing energy. So if it were synthesised, it could be used to create a fairly hefty boom. As a result of her discovery, Clara, and her teacher Kenneth Boehr, are both listed as co-authors on a research paper published by Zoellner about the molecule. Also, I suspect she's probably getting an A on that assignment. [Humboldt State University via The Mary Sue]

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