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The book, Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in Science, claims that some early plastic billiard balls were made of nitrocellulose and sometimes exploded. I suppose Hyatt's celluloid billiard balls were the nonexplosive kind. https://www.amazon.com/Serendipity-Accidental-Discoveries-Ro...



Fun history there and if you ever get a chance to watch it, there is a nice episode of Connections ('Countdown', https://archive.org/details/james-burke-connections_s01e09) that uses this as a key point for one of Burke's nice random walks through the history of technology. Nitrocellulose was initially a failure as an explosive, but when mixed with a few other things it was used to replace the ivory in billiard balls as hunters were decimating the elephant populations. Nitrocellulose ended up being the base for smokeless gunpowder that had a huge impact on guns and cannon later in history, but the other big thing it was used for was early film stock. One source of so many fires in theaters (and film storage vaults at studios) in the early 20th century was due to this particular type of film stock.




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