Cartoon Bombs = Real Bombs?
August 6, 2008 12:08 PM   Subscribe

You know how, like, the universal symbol for a bomb is all, like, a bowling ball with a fuse? And how, like, in cartoons and junk it's always drawn that way? Where there ever bombs like that for realsies? I'm in California using Windows XP Professional.
posted by notmydesk to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Take a look at the anarchist globe bomb from the 1880s, they were used during the Haymarket riots. I'm in Pangaea using an Atari 2600.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:15 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Grenades, both ancient and modern, are basically spheres (for efficient throwing and exploding) with fuses.
posted by SPrintF at 12:17 PM on August 6, 2008

The original shrapnel shell as cannon-fired was an approximation of the cartoon bomb as well.
posted by wzcx at 12:19 PM on August 6, 2008

Check out especially these early hand grenades. My impression is that they did have the fuse sticking out the hole.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:21 PM on August 6, 2008

Here's one.
I'm in Atlanta using a TRS-80.
posted by spilon at 12:21 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]

I had always thought that the bowling ball with a fuse was an advanced form of the cannon ball. The idea being that a traditional canon ball didn't explode, but if you filled it with explosives and ignited a fuse, it would be more destructive. This hypothesis is not based on any actual knowledge, but it seems plausible enough. Maybe the grenade explanation is right, but the cartoon bombs seemed too heavy to throw very far (of course, they were cartoon bombs, so I don't know how much they actually weighed).

I must be missing something, but why is your location and operating system part of the question?
posted by lionelhutz5 at 12:22 PM on August 6, 2008

There's an exhibit here in Halifax regarding the 1758 siege of Fortress Louisbourg. One of the display cases holds a cast iron grenade recovered from the site that looks exactly like a "bowling ball with a fuse" (sorry, no pics). So yes, they're "for realsies".

As for why... it's a circle with a bit sticking out. Real easy to draw, and iconic. Especially when "BOMB" is written on them in big white letters. That, and the slowly dwindling fuse.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:24 PM on August 6, 2008

why is your location and operating system part of the question?

(I think they mistook the tips on the post page for requirements. Now it looks like a AskMe parody question.)
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:29 PM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

This is only tangentially related but Nick Swardson talks about that bomb - it's really funny (around 1:30.)
posted by plexi at 12:30 PM on August 6, 2008

Also only tangential, but here's an example of the type and of how some days you just can't get rid of a bomb.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:33 PM on August 6, 2008

The big fireworks (the kind that go in a cannon) look like cardboard bombs, fuse side down. California, smoke signals.
posted by idiotfactory at 12:53 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, you can see here that the grenades look a bit like the bomb we all know. I imagine that in the past when they did not have sophisticated timing devices they just used a lit fuse.

BTW, in FLA, using an abacus...Thank you, goodnight!
posted by MiggySawdust at 1:04 PM on August 6, 2008

Wzcx is right. And the reason the shell had a fuse was because the shrapnel shell was most effective if it went off in the air above the target.

They were fired from howitzers (indirect fire, high arc) and the shell fuse was automatically lit when the howitzer went off. The artillerists guessed how long it would take the shell to reach their target and trimmed the length of the fuse to get an air burst.
posted by Class Goat at 1:04 PM on August 6, 2008

"Cannon," not "canon." Apologies to the Pachelbel fans.
posted by lionelhutz5 at 1:19 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I always thought it kind of looked like a bowling ball with a fuse. In Oregon. Carving this message into the inside of a cave hoping somehow it will eventually find its way onto MeFi.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:20 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Chinese invented them, the Mongols used them to conquer Asia and the Japanese called them tetsuhau, a photo of some recovered from the sea floor is here. A Google image search will turn up others. They were made out of ceramics, filled with gunpowder and iron filings after being fired (ceramic-ly speaking) and then a fuse was stuck in them. The use is pretty much as you would imagine.

And you thought us potters were wimps? No way, man, we were the first arms dealers.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:34 PM on August 6, 2008

I always thought it started with Elmer Fudd or Wiley Coyote, but then the world didn't exist before Sunday morning cartoons and color TV... Washington, training swarms of bees to form universal symbols.
posted by Acacia at 2:42 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

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