More Than Meets the Eye: Invisible propane gas flows, unlit, from a torch. On hitting the rhodium-studded ceramic honeycomb from a catalytic converter, it burns without flame, heating the ceramic red-hot. Mike Walker
To a chemist, burning means the rapid combination of a fuel with oxygen, called oxidation. You might say, for instance, “Oh, no, we didn’t have a fire at the nuclear power plant, we just had a ‘rapid oxidation event,’ ” a phrase that won officials at Three Mile Island the Doublespeak Award in 1979.