Elon Musk created huge furore on Twitter in 2017 when he tweeted that he will be selling flamethrowers through his tunnel drilling company – The Boring Company. Frustrated by the long commute hours in Los Angeles traffic, Musk dreamed up a commuter’s utopia – high speed travel through underground roads. Musk, the dreamer, is also an executor. He quickly founded the Boring Company to make that dream a reality. The Boring company creates super strong tunnels which can be used for underground tunneling whether for travel or for laying fiber optics.
But why is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX organizing a Flamethrowers Sale branded under this company’s banner? Is this his style of April Fools day trick? Or maybe Halloween even? The term flamethrower brings up deadly images of thick smoke and raging fire, screams and mass destruction everywhere. Flamethrowers do not have good reputations. History of this world shows enough evidence for one to be wary.
Man’s experiment with fire began when he rubbed the flintstones together and created the first spark. Since then humans found numerous uses for it. Lighting homes, cooking food, growing food, fighting off animals, entertainment, self defense, and war weapons. Notice how the use cases become more and more morbid. Well sadly that is exactly how the transition looks. Of course fire played a vital role in the Industrial revolution and advancement of science, technology and human race. However its great contributions are marred by the images of destruction it has caused when used intentionally or unintentionally.
The earliest Flamethrowers date back to the 5th Century BC. During that time their design was like a long tube filled with combustible material like coal or sulfur and operated as a blowgun. The Greeks had used such fire throwing devices during the siege at Constantinople. The destructive physical and psychological effects of this tactic was captured as the popular Greek fire tales.
In modern history, an improved design of Flamethrowers made a comeback during World War I. Designed by the German inventor Richard Fiedler, the “Flammenwerfer” – the 20th century Flamethrower was improved to be portable and used carbon dioxide and nitrogen to blow out flames till 18-36 feet. The German used it against the British and French soldiers during the battle at Hooge in Flanders. Numerous British and French soldiers lost their lives. The British and French military came up with their own version of this flaming beast. By the end of the war, flamethrower use expanded to tanks, a strategy carried forward to World War II, Korean war and Vietnam war. Flame throwing equipment, albeit somewhat refined, continues to be used in the present day as a controlled military weapon, domestic equipment and now with Elon’s announcement as an entertainment tool. So why is the world rejoicing at this instead of being scared, critical and cautious? Shouldn’t the world be worried by the sale of the Boring Company Flamethrower?
Well I wasn’t the only one skeptical of this announcement. Sale of flamethrowers is banned in almost 49 US states. Politicians in New York and California criticized Elon’s move and issued strict regulations and concerns. In return the founder of Boring Company rebranded his merchandise as the Boring Company Not-A-Flamethrower and released a couple of tweets and videos to alleviate these concerns. The video showed that the flamethrower was just a nicely packaged roofing torch using a propane tank to create fire that spreads to 6ft. It almost looks like a very fancy nerf gun or a G.I. Joe weapon. But don’t let its innocent look deceive you. The unboxing review of the product reveals a thick safety manual and use instructions. And I advise every owner of the Boring Company Flamethrower to abide by its rules and play with fire cautiously! Better buy Musk’s fire extinguisher deal as well while you are at it.