Death By Lava Lamp? New TV Show, 'Curious And Unusual Deaths,' Explains How It's Possible (VIDEO)
Death is inevitable. That's a sad but true fact of our existence.
But while we are all going to go sometime, each person kicks the bucket in their own way.
Some people die of old age in their sleep while others pass away under bizarre circumstances ... like being killed by a lava lamp or giggling to death.
A new series, "Curious And Unusual Deaths," which debuts February 17 on Discovery Fit & Health, attempts to explain the science behind these bizarre deaths with the help of experts and reenactments.
The first episode deals with the strange death of Aidan Bray, a resident of Kent, Wash., who died in 2004 at the age of 24 because of an exploding lava lamp that left him covered in blue waxy goo with glass shards embedded in his heart.
Bray had developed an interest in lava lamps, a device invented by Brit Edward Craven Walker that uses a 40-watt bulb to heat up a wax-like substance in an enclosed water-filled see-through container. When properly warmed up, the wax can bob and weave for hours.
However, it can take up to four hours for a lava lamp to get up to speed, which is more time than Bray wanted to spend so he put the lamp on the stove hoping the heat would speed up the process.
Big mistake, according to University of Virginia physics professor Lou Bloomfield.
"While this lamp was on the stovetop, the water was getting hotter and hotter," he said. "Some of it was becoming water vapor at the top of the bottle and as that water vapor became more dense, the pressure inside the bottle increased."
Since a lava lamp is sealed, Bloomfield says the water gets hot but doesn't boil. Meanwhile, the pressure inside increases up to 40 times the atmospheric pressure outside.
"Something has to give," he said. "The bottle cracks and the seal is broken, the pressure drops and the water boils instantly."
The end result in Bray's case is that the lamp broke and the glass flew toward him with the power of a small cannon. The shards hit his heart and killed him and the wax in the lamp left him covered in blue goo.
It's a grisly way to die, but Bloomfield sees the death as an opportunity to educate people about science.
"How a lava lamp works is interesting," Bloomfield told HuffPost Weird News. "But they were never meant to work at the temperature water boils. It's guaranteed to cause trouble when you put it on a stovetop. Things like these are why you get an education."
As tragic as the death was for Bray's family, Bloomfield feels that the nature of the case is a valuable tool for educators like him.
"Death is a good repurposing tool," he said. "It gets someone's attention if you can explain how someone got killed."
Michael Lamport, the executive producer of "Curious And Unusual Deaths," agrees that death is a good entry point into the main point of the series: Explaining scientific principles.
"Yes, the manner in which these people pass is fascinating, but the science is equally interesting," he told HuffPost Weird News.
He also thinks that if more people paid attention to science, there might be fewer strange deaths.
"One of the more fascinating cases we did concerned a French inventor who designed an overcoat that would work as a parachute so if people fell from buildings they could be saved," Lamport added. "The guy took the coat to the Eiffel Tower, jumped and promptly fell to his death because he didn't realize the effects of a speeding body plummeting toward Earth and forgot he didn't have strings to lift up the chute."
As for the reenactment of the lava lamp death, cleaning up the mess of the blue goo was not something anyone on the set was dying to do.
"We did not use the real substance found in lava lamps. I'm not sure what it was," he admitted. "But it got everywhere. We used a slo-mo camera because the death was the type of thing we could only shoot once."
Although the deaths featured on the series are strange, unusual and weird, Lamport hopes that audience members don't watch the show from a condescending "what an idiot" vantage point.
"I hope people look at the science behind the deaths," he said. "I'd like people to realize that these deaths aren't likely to happen to them, but to remind themselves to watch out."