The Olympic torch’s one job is to stay lit no matter what. And honestly, I never gave much thought to how that was accomplished. Lots of tiki torch fluid? Very careful runners? Ghosts? Correct answer: pressurised gas and a chassis that could probably survive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
What’s Inside cut open one of the torches built for this year’s Rio Olympics, but it took them the better part of a full day, three different saws, and quite a few tripped fuses. Seriously, this thing is built like a tank, with concentric rings and spokes of aluminium, a telescoping, snake-like tip, and a spring-loaded central gas line. It might be the only thing going right with Rio so far.
As far as staying lit, the Olympic torch bears more in common with a refillable lighter than a flaming stick. The base of the torch houses a gas canister, which is twisted into place until it engages with that central line. Fuel travels up through the handle and out to a wind-proof perforated grate, similar to a Zippo. That telescoping action, it seems, is just to make it look cool—which it does—even if it’s terrifically over-engineered and much more durable than necessary.
Can someone please buy these guys a diamond-tipped saw blade for Christmas? Such a shame to see so many angle grinders die in vain.