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All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to read nothing - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to read nothing
Okay, how precisely would you go about committing an act of terrorism using only a paperback book? For the purposes of the exercise, you have to use the physical object, not its informational contents (so e.g. "Buying a paperback book on how to make bombs and following the instructions therein" would be instantly disqualified). You are allowed to pre-prepare the book using other items, but you'll get bonus points for making suggestions which would work with an unprepared book, e.g. the surprisingly unreadable Dan Brown novel that you've just bought in the duty-free.

My favourite suggestion wins a potentially-lethal pair of nailclippers. (I reserve the right not to award the prize if your suggestions all turn out to be variations on a theme of papercuts, but I trust you'll do better than that, won't you, chaps?)

ObMeta-X-spook: Delta Force Semtex $400 million in gold bullion fissionable arrangements Noriega Honduras Ortega assassination Saddam Hussein Qaddafi explosion Kennedy Nazi World Trade Center


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From: catsgomiaow Date: August 10th, 2006 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was wondering about this earlier, and the only thing I could come up with was threatening to paper-cut the pilot to death if he didn't divert the plane...
From: catsgomiaow Date: August 10th, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
HE OR SHE for the pilot! Cripes marnameow would have my guts for garters for that gender-biased language...
From: duncanneko Date: August 10th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Glue half of the pages together, hollow out resultant wodge of paper, fill with explosives" is traditional, I believe. If you're careful I expect you could make it look realistic to casual inspection.
cartesiandaemon From: cartesiandaemon Date: August 10th, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's what I assumed, that they banned any largish items[1] to prevent anything being smuggled in.

[1] Unless anyone would kick up a stink. Plastic baby, anyone?
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: August 10th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Buy Dan Brown novel. Bludgeon air stewards on head with it to gain entrance to cockpit. Read blurb to co-pilot, rendering him unconscious either with laughter or boredom. Threaten pilot with chapter 1 unless he agrees to your demands.

In event of pilot being Dan Brown fan, skip to ending, read it aloud. If this is a spoiler, pilot will aquiesce. If not, proceed to step three: literary criticism.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 10th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tear out the pages once you're on board the plane. Make them into origami snakes. Rule world.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: August 10th, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dude! Everyone knows that the pen is mightier than the sword, Dude!

Perhaps the terrorists will threaten to read Dan Brown or J K Rowling novels to the pilots.
gnimmel From: gnimmel Date: August 10th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
1. Purchase book in duty-free.
2. During flight, detatch pages from book and chew until they become papier-mache (NB. doing this may require a potentially-terroristic bottle of liquid water)
3. Wander around plane on the pretence of looking for the toilets. Introduce papier-mache to all small important looking holes, locks for vital-equipment lockers, ears of sleeping people, &c.
4. It luckily turns out that some little-known airline directive states that the plane must divert to the nearest airport if the cupboard with the lemon-scented paper napkins in won't open.
5. Voila! You have caused slight delays. Osama bin Laden gives you a bronze star and a biscuit.
sbp From: sbp Date: August 10th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
wait for civilisation to fall and rise again to resupply lemon-scented paper napkins.
sbp From: sbp Date: August 10th, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
take book into toilet. rip pages out. create realistic-looking papier mache gun with water from sink. threaten people.

anyway, it's all a plot to make you watch the in-flight entertainment and brainwash you!
chickenfeet2003 From: chickenfeet2003 Date: August 10th, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
How about a book of magic spells guaranteed to turn pilots, air marshals etc into frogs?
From: kaet Date: August 10th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Surely airliners have special frog-sized actuators in their cockpit for just such an occurance?
nja From: nja Date: August 10th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
You impregnate the ink with uranium, and then once you are on board with all your martyrdom-bound friends, you rip up the books and put all the pages in a big pile, producing a critical mass of uranium, and the whole plane becomes a gigantic atomic bomb.

Or you could put ricin-producing bacteria in between the pages, and then when you're airborne you drip sugary drinks onto the book, encouraging the bacteria to breed and produce ricin. I don't really know what ricin is or what you'd do with it, but it seems to be essential for terrorist operations.
nja From: nja Date: August 10th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bacteria don't breed, of course. Or is it still breeding when it's done asexually? I really don't think I'm cut out for biochemical terrorism, I didn't even do O-level biology.
cartesiandaemon From: cartesiandaemon Date: August 10th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was my first thought. OK, you could hide something inside, but couldn't the searchers just flick through?

But OTOH, do the properties "looking like paper" and "being highly nitrated" necessarily represent distinct polymers? I don't know enough about chemistry, but explosives come in different forms, maybe you could get one that looks like paper?

Of course, you might be able to soak your clothes and shoes in it anyway.
From: duncanneko Date: August 10th, 2006 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I used to have an old book on stage magic that included instructions on making "flash paper", an essential component in many tricks as it burns very rapidly with no residue. The instructions turned out to be "nitrate tissue paper", and we were making nitrocelulose. Alas, there wasn't any strong enough acids in my school's chemistry cupboard for it to work properly. :(

So yes, you can probably treat paper to be at the least highly flammable, and probably explosive with enough effort (a hardback book tightly shut with an ignitor and oxygen source would probably do).
marnameow From: marnameow Date: August 10th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Unprepared book - suffocate people by filling their mouths and noses with balled-up paper.

Or - make little paper balls and ping them at passengers until there's a full-scale, mid-air riot.

Prepared book - soak a couple of pages in LSD. Sneak the pages into the water-heater-thing for making tea and coffee.
naranek From: naranek Date: August 10th, 2006 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Soak the book in conc nitric until it becomes mostly nitrocellulose, then light it with a nitrogen triiodide (or similarly shock-sensitive) primer. How to get both components into the plane without blowing yourself up is left as an exercise for the reader :-).
ironlord From: ironlord Date: August 10th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bzzaaaarrrrp! That won't work. You need a mixture of conc. nitric and conc. sulphuric acids.

Reason: nitric acid acts as a base (yes, you heard that right) and protonates from the sulphuric acid. Water leaves from the H2NO3+ produced, leaving the nitration electrophile NO2+ which reacts with the hydroxyl groups in the paper. Nitric acid will not react with itself, so the sulphuric acid (or possibly something of equal strength such as triflic acid) needs to be present.

Et voilà - nitrocellulose.
gerald_duck From: gerald_duck Date: August 10th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
It might be a Qur'an, with which one could pray for Allah to strike the infidel.

Unpick the binding and replace it with cheesewire?

Print the book on Kevlar "paper" and use it to protect yourself from a sky marshall?
classytart From: classytart Date: August 10th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Damn! That was my plan. Garroting wire as bindings.
From: vatine Date: August 10th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Let me count the ways...

  1. Nitrate the paper, apply heat source, make BIG FIRE
  2. Hide ceramic shap edges in the spine; use these to creatively carve exotic art out of cabin crew
  3. Soak book in nastyhorrible bacteria and/or virus, use plane as vector for bioterrorism
  4. ...

Three, at least.
From: kaet Date: August 10th, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
A while ago, during the US crypto export thingy, there was a book on cryptography which was only exported in paperback because the hardback had "hard corners" which meant that it had to be carefully and expensively examined as to whether or not it was a weapon of war.

I suppose you could wear the book as primitive body armour whilst carrying out a teroristic deed? One of those big coffee table books would be best, I guess.
naranek From: naranek Date: August 10th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was `Applied Cryptography' by Bruce Schneier. Amusingly, I don't believe that the softback edition was never cleared for export ...
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