Help identify this murder method from a short story
February 25, 2011 9:29 AM   Subscribe

What is this short story (maybe by Asimov?) ... [spoilers]

where someone murders a guy by adding something to the water in a camp shower such that all the water plunges down at once and bludgeons the guy to death? I am more curious about the method, but I can't think of keywords to search on since I cannot remember the story well enough. If you can explain the specifics and plausibility of the method, please help. I don't know if I am being ridiculous by rot13ing the spoiler sentence, but I think it is polite in the question that would show up before someone clicks. I suppose people might want to rot13 replies, but I think maybe since the story is probably decades old, and also since I'm asking about the spoiler, then maybe people can send replies in cleartext and people who are sensitive to spoilers can skip?
posted by bleary to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mod note: rephrased the question, we don't really do ROT13 here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:07 AM on February 25, 2011

Best answer: I believe you are looking for "The Softest Hammer", by Charles Sheffield. It can be found in his collection "Hidden Variables"

The additive reduced the friction of the water, making it come out much faster than it normally would have.
posted by notbuddha at 10:16 AM on February 25, 2011

Response by poster: Was there an explanation for how something could reduce the friction of a liquid? [google google]

I googled slippery water and found 'Slippery Water': Mystery Seems Finally Solved (wtf, why didn't I find this a long time ago, the last time I searched for the story. I used slippery water before).

Anyway, thanks. I feel a little more at piece now that I know the short story and can track it down.
posted by bleary at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2011

Bleary, SF generally deals with things that are contrary to fact and physical law. Faster than light, time travel, super strong materials which could only be possible if the Universal Electrical Constant was changed, stuff like that.

Friction of water can be reduced by adding a detergent to it, but not enough to make a shower into a deadly weapon, at least in our reality. But it still might make for a good story.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:26 PM on February 25, 2011

Response by poster: Chocolate Pickle, I thought SF writers get FTL for free but have to pay for everything else they do.
posted by bleary at 5:33 PM on February 25, 2011

Chocolate Pickle: "Bleary, SF generally deals with things that are contrary to fact and physical law."

That's a pretty blanket statement. See Hal Clement's work, for example.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:59 AM on February 28, 2011

Response by poster: Oh foo, I thought I posted a wonderfully funny reply on my phone this morning as I trained in to work.

Chrysostom, I thought that comment from Chocolate Pickle was a little poopy but tried not to let it get my goat too much.

I was hoping for someone to follow up explaining how much momentum would be required to kill someone and whether it is in the realm of possibility to have water get slippery enough to do that, if so, could you fit enough in a barrel suspended over someone, and how wide would the aperture have to be, and does anyone remember whether that shower was an outdoor shower at a beach house that involved a barrel and a pull cord, since I can't remember what the shower looked like anyway. I might be confabulating from childhood memories of beach houses.

And now I will go kidnap Chocolate Pickle to tie up in a cave in Minnisota or was it Wisconsin and bombard 'em with neutrinos.
posted by bleary at 8:16 AM on March 3, 2011

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