Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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The perfect murder

Modified from a popular mechanics article
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Later that week, when a thunderstorm was forecast for that evening, I snuck over to the luxury farmhouse my enemy was renting. I climbed on to the roof with a ladder I had brought and away from the street so no one could see, I set up a platform with a model rocket. This was a Comanche-3 Estes rocket, capable of going half a mile into the air. I modified the bottom with ceramic so that the propellant would not burn the fragile copper wire, I was attaching to the body. The wire was only .25 mils thick, this I had calculated would only add .3 lbs of weight to the rocket at a quarter mile and and .6 lbs at it's supposed apex of a half mile. I carefully removed the 2000 feet of wire from it's spool and placed it next to the platform. I then ran the copper wire to the gutter, down the downspout, inside his bedroom window, attached it to his metal bedframe, back out the window and to a metal spike in the ground. I returned to my car and left.

That evening, I waited in a car down the street from his house for my enemy to arrive. He came at 1 in the morning, alone thankfully and stumbling. He proceeded to the bedroom immediately, kicked his dog and fell onto the bed and didn't move. I waited.

The storm drew closer and a lightning bolt hit close by. I put my hand out the window, waited for a lull, and once I detected one, triggered the wireless launch signal.

The next day the headline said:

"Local man dies in lightning strike, farmhouse burns to ground."

All the evidence as well.

Update: The dog was found alive eating the barbecued leg of his owner.

leinypoo13, Jan 22 2008

Lightning research http://www.popularm.../earth/4217464.html
[leinypoo13, Jan 22 2008]

Wallop rocket http://www.janes.co...t/jiw/jiw_9189.html
A wonderfully entertaining device. [8th of 7, Jan 23 2008]

Fullerene Fulgurites Fullerene_20Fulgurites
Using lightning to melt sand. Similar questions were never fully fleshed out. [Amos Kito, Jan 24 2008]

Rocket Lightning Photos http://skydiary.com...002/chase2002g.html
An impressive lightning bolt follows a skyward wire. Be sure to follow their link to the cool "Triggered Lightning" video. [Amos Kito, Jan 24 2008]

Tom Sawyer plans to rescue Jim http://etext.virgin...rt=34&division=div1
"I should hope we can find a way that's a little more complicated than that, Huck Finn." [bungston, Jan 24 2008]

[link]






       kicked his dog? he deserved it the bastard...   

       was the dog wired up? sorry I missed that.   

       those Lulls are feckin' lethal. I need to research them.   

       are we writing a fiction here?
po, Jan 22 2008
  

       Perhaps...
leinypoo13, Jan 22 2008
  

       MB did it.
po, Jan 22 2008
  

       Ask 8th - he's been monitoring signals from my night-vision-goggle-detecting- radar using his night-vision-goggle- detecting-radar-tracker. I think you'll find I was elsewhere at the time, arguing with someone called Po.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 22 2008
  

       // he deserved it the bastard //   

       Seconded. Did he die painlessly ? We hope not.   

       Did the doggie get out safely ?   

       // I think you'll find I was elsehwhere at the time //   

       Sadly, we are forced to confirm this ....
8th of 7, Jan 22 2008
  

       Necessary to have a disintegrating launch pad.   

       So, you are going to turn his house into a huge lightning rod for about 30 seconds and hope it works? If it dosen't go exactly according to plan, you are screwed. Thus, I don't like the title. A perfect murder should leave no evidence, and have a large acceptable margin of error.
daseva, Jan 22 2008
  

       When I thought of this, many years ago, I went the next step, and thought of an ionized rocket exhaust instead of a wire. It turned out that big rockets sometimes get hit by lightning, as their exhaust trail does, indeed, conduct.
baconbrain, Jan 23 2008
  

       Not nearly perfect: 1) you have to be in the vicinity; 2) launching rockets in a thunderstorm is pretty darn suspicious if anyone spots you; 3) it was someone you knew - the police target suspects with a motive.   

       And in reality, perfect murderers give themselves away by trying out their perfect technique on too many people. Witness the chap who found a way to drown his wife in the bathtub without a struggle. The police got suspicious after the second wife drowned the exact same way as the first, and they nailed him for the third.
DrCurry, Jan 23 2008
  

       But who would suspect it? If no one sees you (that is the only way you can be caught) and it works, all the evidence will be destroyed (rocket,wire,launchpad etc). It would be chalked up to a freak accident of nature. The bed would certainly catch on fire and likely burn the house down. It would not be hard to make a launch pad that would disappear.   

       As far as having ionized exhaust , this would dissipate rapidly in the winds of a storm and is not as good as having a wire, which would be a better conductor and melt when the lightning strikes.
leinypoo13, Jan 23 2008
  

       Alternate headline: "Local man slips on fish carcass, falls from ladder to death."
saxman, Jan 23 2008
  

       Actually, your best bet is simply to run him over, or drive your SUV into his Mercedes A-class. Unless they can prove intent, you're unlikely to get more than a laughable sentence.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 23 2008
  

       // drown his wife in the bathtub //   

       Ah, the renowned George Joseph Smith.   

       To avoid arousing suspicion in witnesses, you're going to need a rocket motor with an attenuated launch signature, like the motor used in the Wallop. <link>
8th of 7, Jan 23 2008
  

       Perfect is a bit of a reach. There is way too much suspicious preparation and no alibi. I am also worried that the lightning will ground out against the gutters or something and find a new path to ground. How about if the wire isn't spooled all the way out when the lightning strikes, couldn't it short across the loops and leave evidence on the ground?
MisterQED, Jan 23 2008
  

       <Dons grubby old overcoat, lights cigar, puts in glass eye>
"Just one more question, sir...
Where were you last night..? Only, the guys from the lab have matched one of only two tyre tracks in the driveway to your car... I just want to rule you out of the inquiry."
Jinbish, Jan 23 2008
  

       ..and, in tragic news tonight, well known local police identity Detective Consuela Flaminicus has returned home to discover the body of her husband. Mr Flaminicus had apparently suffered some form of spontaneous siezure and brain haemorrhage while surfing the internet. Colleagues of Detective Flaminicus have told Faux Cable News that in a cruel twist, the web page Mr Flaminicus had last viewed was an idea on how to commit the perfect murder using lightning. "It's possibly what caused his brain to explode. We've had a look at some of the concepts in the idea and, well, technically, it was the kind of muddled science that he would have felt a strong duty to correct." a police spokesman said. "Unfortunately, in this case, the utter horror he would have felt that someone could so misunderstand the physical nature and behaviour of lightning and electrical currents seems to have caused a fatal conniption."   

       When asked if the idea itself may have been an actual attempt to kill Mr Flaminicus, the spokesman was silent for some time before answering "Well, if it was, there's no way we could prove it and probably no way of tracking down just who the idea poster was or where they reside. It would be the perfect murder in fact..."
ConsulFlaminicus, Jan 23 2008
  

       <pops head back in room>
You know what just occured to me? If a rocket, much like the burnt one we found in the farmyard, was travelling at 100mph...
Say. Do you have a light for this cigar - if you don't mind me smoking in your bathroom, while you're having a bath, that is...
  

       I mean if it were travelling at about 140ft per second, it's going to take about 14 seconds to reach 2000ft...
Jinbish, Jan 23 2008
  

       [Unabubba] Really, is it bad science? Tell me why?   

       Although, QED may be correct that the gutter would short out the strike, which could be easily modified, why is it bad science?   

       This is how lightning researchers do research.
leinypoo13, Jan 24 2008
  

       The technical feasibility of this is in doubt (e.g. connecting the wire to the bed, then the ground wouldn't show him, just like touching one terminal of a battery...yes, I know it's more complicated than that...ah well)
cpf, Jan 24 2008
  

       The man is living in a "luxury farmhouse" which is situated on a "street"? There is an implication there of this being a residential area. Houses are most often situated next to streets while farmhouses would more aptly be adjacent to or near roads. I agree with UB that if you were waiting roadside until 1 in the morning it would look mighty suspicious.   

       The article you refer to mentions the experiment has a 50% success rate, so your "perfect murder" would share that 50-50 outlook for failure. Hardly perfect at all.   

       You might want to train the dog to trigger the rocket launch. Animals seem to exhibit a greater sensitivity to natural events, and with the dog already having cause, you would then have an ally on the inside.   

       Plausible alternate headline "Local farmhouse struck by lightning, occupant and dog saved by sprinkler system".
Canuck, Jan 24 2008
  

       I am reminded of the chapter in Huckleberry Finn where Tom Sawyer devises a plan to free Jim from the shack where he is held. I have linked it for those whose Huck Finn might be rusty.
bungston, Jan 24 2008
  
      
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