According to The Inquirer, an Apple PowerBook shocked office-workers in a London marketing agency when it unexpectedly burst into flames, melting keys on the keyboard and spewing acrid smoke into the room. Although the company asked not to be identified, they allowed pictures of the burnt-out laptop to be published.
"Suddenly flames flew up about six foot in the air and there were sparks flying everywhere. There was a popping sound and more smoke. At that point I just hit the fire alarm and scarpered," said one employee.
According to a witness, the flames that arose from the PowerBook shot straight up to the ceiling.
Fortunately, no one was typing on the machine at the time. (Photos courtesy of The Inquirer)
Unfortunately, this sort of thing is not new.
In 2006 a Dell laptop exploded several times over the course of five minutes at a conference in Japan, leaving onlookers more than a bit uneasy.
Although scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Germany and researchers elsewhere have been working to produce batteries without inflammable materials, we are still some way from benefiting from totally safe batteries. As regards the recent London PowerBook "bomb" incident, it is possible that the battery in question had been the subject of a recall from Apple, but that the marketing company had failed to act.
What, however, would happen if a laptop exploded on a plane? Or, indeed, on someone's lap?