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Thread: Catalyst Bomardier Beetle

  1. #1 Catalyst Bomardier Beetle 
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    Since I am discussing the bombardier beetle, I'll state now that I am NOT a creationist, and I am aware of the flaws with the creationist argument concerning this organism.

    That said I am wondering what the name and maybe some properties of the catalyst, involved in the hydroquinone/quinone; hydrogen peroxide/water redox reaction, are.


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  3. #2  
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    "...it was made very clear by Gish what would happen if we mixed up these two chemicals in the laboratory. There would be an explosion. At a public meeting with Gish at San Diego University in 1978, Dr. Frank Aubrey and William Thwaits mixed hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone in front of Gish. There was no explosion, but the mixture did turn brown."

    I don't want to hand-type any more of that, but the upshot is: the bombadier beatle story comes from a mis-translation (deliberate or not) of a 1968 German scientific article, where Creationists, for whatever reason, translated the German instable (unstable) into "explosive".

    There's a multi-page, anti-Creationist explanation of this in "Telling Lies For God", Ian Plimer, 1994, Random House. Page 69, in fact.


    (And at this point I pause to reflect that the last time a made a reference to a book, I was attacked for being a Creationist myself. How stupid, no, how unScientific, people are).


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    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    I understand all that, I was just wondering what the catalyst was
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    What makes you think that a catalyst is involved?
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    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    I've read it in The Blind Watchmaker and the wikipedia article and several other places. After all if hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide do not explode on their own, one needs a calalyst to get the explosion working. By adding a little bit of catalyst per generation one allows gradual change.

    The creationists' problem was that they thought an inhibitor was involved, and than an anti-inhibitor allowed the explosion, not the catalyst.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    The catalyst are various peroxidases and catalases that break down the hydrogen peroxide.

    As p-quinone is produced the pressure and temperature rises in the confined space. There is no explosion, the high pressure causes it to squirt out quickly when the valve is opened. The high temperature of the mixture burns the attacker.

    It does make a loud bang noise when released though.

    Edit: And this was answered for you in the chem subforum, if these reactants are mixed in an open beaker you will just get some fizzing since the gas escapes, it's the confined space inside the bombadier beetle that allows it to be used as a defense mechanism.

    Edit2: The reason y the beetle doesn't burst from the production of gas is that the quinone and hydrogen peroxide are segregated in seperate organs. They only mix when the beetle is preparing to defend itself.
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