back to article Anti-Metaverse package 'explosion' at college VR lab probed by investigators

A plastic carrying-case apparently exploded at Northeastern University's Boston campus on Tuesday night, injuring one staff member, in what may be a protest against virtual reality – or just a hoax. Though the US city's bomb squad and other emergency services and law enforcement responded, the box did not contain a bomb. …

  1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    "Rigged" how?

    I've got one of those Pelican cases for a laptop. The only non-chem-reaction-way I can think of to put positive air pressure in the case is to build a Mecchano-like device, which fits into the Pelican case, around a CO2 gas cartridge. The machine would ram a sewing needle through the cartridge's seal at time X. But this sort of thing would be immediately-obvious once anyone opened the case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Rigged" how?

      A lump of dry ice would do well. No trace left.

      If you are OK with messy, there's always sodium bicarbonate and vinegar/lemon juice etc. Or even calcium carbide and water. A small cup of each, close the lid, shake and (e)vac(uate).

      Probably lots of other possibilities. I do recall a popular prank "back in the day" was to take a plastic 35mm film can and give it a good hearty squirt of aerosol freezer spray, enough to get a puddle of liquid refrigerant in the bottom, snap on the lid shut as you dropped the can onto someone's lap. Cue satisfying pop and an embarrassingly placed patch of frost. Or dump it on a corner of their bench and walk off. That would usually give a respectable delay before the bang.

      Happy days.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A chunk of dry ice would about do the job.

        Cheap, readily available, and perfectly legal. The better pelican style cases have a purge valve to deal with the fact the excellent seals can provide a healthy positive or negative pressure. Handy if you are trying to unpack your NVG's you packed at sea level before a jump and don't want to get yelled at. Also fun to get the case back open when you land, if hard on people nerves.

        Dry ice would up that considerably, and if you just popped the latches, could result in excitement and minor injuries when the seals blew out. The case for a VR headset could easily be 2-4 L, so that's a fair amount of gas, not quite exploding soda bottle levels probably, but in the same ball park.

        Still, probably not as bad as if your fellow PFCs tossed in a couple of MRE heaters and some Tabasco sauce.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: A chunk of dry ice would about do the job.

          ... or added glitter, which these days is made of aluminum-coated plastic.

      2. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

        Re: "Rigged" how?

        Calcium carbide would be awesome, if only for the ***** smell that would linger at the explosion site for days.

        **By counceling of his lawyer, this commentard does not conffirm nor deny knowledge concerning a calcium carbide stink bomb that went off at the high school's gym bathroom in the late nineties**

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gratuitous exclamation marks? Inability to use English? Everything points to a Yahoo! plot.

    1. RM Myers

      Or the plot of an El Reg article about Yahoo!

    2. Kane

      "Gratuitous exclamation marks?"

      Clearly the signs of a deranged mind.

      1. Evil Scot

        Die Chelonian Mobile

    3. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      Informs of threatening references to the UN and the text "screw Flanders" repeated over and over, remain unconfirmed

  3. ChoHag Silver badge


    If you hadn't tried to entice readers with the idea of explosives, you wouldn't have to spend the first half of the article back-pedalling.

    If you are going to try and retain the British-flavoured bombast which made this rag such an exciting purchase in the first place, perhaps you should also have kept the Brits to make it?

    Sod the coat, I'm staying. With Paris gone there a gap for the popcorn with which to watch this corpse flail around refusing to die. Where's the vultures at?

  4. lglethal Silver badge

    To quote the late great Terry Pratchett

    "And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head."

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    Sarah Connor

    Is that you? Gotta get Skynet before it gets us!

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Sarah Connor

      Please if Skynet had been created by Meta, the T1000 would not have been trying to kill Sarah Connor, it works have been aggressively trying to get her to try this new great Anti-frizz Shampoo and Conditioner. And maybe a new wardrobe. And isnt the one thing she was really missing in her life, a new IPhone... And, and...

      Im not sure which is the scarier future...

      1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Sarah Connor

        I for one will welcome our new skynet overlords. No terminators needed, just send my Monroebot along and I'll be no trouble at all.

  6. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    If you must

    stage a protest against VR do it in VR. Flying penises are traditional but not compulsory.

  7. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    The moral seems to be,

    If you find a possible bomb at work, don't handle it. And don't tell anybody, or you'll be suspected of planting it. Just print and stick on a new address label for "Your Boss, His or Her Office", and make it their problem. And remember to be surprised when you hear it, hear of it I mean.

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: The moral seems to be,

      Yes, this, and thanks to covid said package should be handled with gloves so, no prints.

  8. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Having detonated $10 billion to develop virtual world tech just last year, Zuck Corp. is unlikely to throw in the towel because of an exclamation-laden threat.

    This won't, however, make anybody else give a shit about the "metaverse".

    VR has been around long enough now for it to have caught on widely if it had any point whatsoever, wasn't clunky, disorienting and anything other than a niche interest.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Thingie often missed in this discussion ...

      "VR has been around long enough now for it to have caught on widely if it had any point whatsoever, wasn't clunky, disorienting and anything other than a niche interest."

      More to the point, it would be widely used in porn.

      It isn't. QED

  9. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    Would be ironic if the anti-Facebook movement that ultimately takes Facebook down actually starts at a college. Circle of Life and all that...

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