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The CBC Halifax Explosion Site

Glossary

  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y  
 

Benzol:

Benzol was a commercial name for the fuel benzene. It is a byproduct of the coal refining process and is still used today as an additive in gasoline to increase the octane.

Benzene is highly flammable. It's too expensive to produce as a pure fuel, but is used as an additive to increase the octane (burning efficiency) of gasoline. The benzol on board Mont-Blanc was intended for use by Allied military aircraft at war in France.

 
 
CSS Acadia: Acadia was at various times designated as a Canadian Scientific Ship and as a Canadian Survey Ship.
 
 
Conscription: Compulsory military service in wartime. Conscription was a highly controversial issue in Canada. The province of Quebec was most strongly against conscription, which led to a backlash against francophones in pro-conscription parts of English Canada.
 
 
Convoys: A group of ships or vehicles travelling together. In World War I ships crossed the Atlantic in groups, usually under military escort, to protect each other from attacks by German submarines. The practice began after the United States entered the war in 1917, and cross-Atlantic supply lines became more important than ever.
   
   

Guncotton:

Guncotton is an explosive made by steeping cotton in nitric and sulfuric acid. It was invented by accident in 1845, when chemist Christian Schoenbein cleaned up a chemical spill with a cotton towel and set it by the fire to dry.
 
 

HMC Dockyard:

His/Her Majesty's Canadian Dockyard. Canadian military ships and facilities all carry HM designations.
 
 
HMCS: His/Her Majesty's Canadian Ship--denotes ships in the the Canadian Navy.
 
 

HMS:

His/Her Majesty's Ship --denotes ships in Britain's Royal Navy.
 
 
Hydrostone: An early form of commercial stone. Hydrostone is a kind of concrete block from which many post-Explosion houses were built. Regular concrete was prone to water damage: hydrostone was made in a patented process designed to reduce the amount of water that could get into the stone.
 
 
Infrasound: People miles away from the Halifax Explosion reported "hearing" it. What they heard was infrasound, as the shock bounced off the atmosphere and back to earth. The phenomenon was reported over a hundred miles (160 km) away.
 
 
Knots: Measure of speed at sea, based on nautical miles per hour. A knot is 1.15 mph, or 1.85 km/h. On December 6, 1917, Mont-Blanc was travelling within the harbour speed limit of 4 knots, while some witnesses said Imo was doing as much as 7 knots.
 
 
Picric Acid: Picric acid (trinitorphenol) is an extremely dangerous chemical related to TNT. Transport Canada describes it as "explosive but also highly shock, heat and friction sensitive." It detonates faster, and more powerfully, than TNT. It is still used today in explosives, laboratories, and dye and fertilizer manufacturing
 
 
Port: The left-hand side of a ship as you are facing the bow
 
 
Square mile: 325-acre (131.5 ha) area.
 
 
Starboard: The right-hand side of a ship as you are facing the bow.
 
 
TNT: TNT (2,4,6 trinitrotoluene) was invented in the 1870's. TNT and its cousins release less energy than gasoline. It's the speed of that release, or detonation velocity, that creates a high-pressure blast. The other explosive property of TNT is that it is chemically unstable: relatively little force or shock will cause it to explode.
 
 
Triage: Practice of sorting victims in a medical or disaster environment to determine priority or type of treatment. In extreme circumstances, triage requires that patients most likely to live are treated before those most likely to die.
 
 
Tsunami: From the Japanese "harbour wave," tsunamis are often called tidal waves, but they have nothing to do with the tides. A tsunami occurs when a marine event such as an earthquake or the Halifax Explosion causes water to rush over the shoreline.
 
 
USS: United States (Naval) Ship

 

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