Category Archives: Personal Blog

Micro Fiction – Science Fiction in 25 words

So.. cheating, I was thinking of this song when I wrote Maybellene. I am strongly thinking about expanding this into a reasonable short story. Micro fiction is hard.

Maybellene

My palms sweating, gravitator rumbling, she slips into Acube space. Green light flashes and twin positron beams pin me into red leather. Dragging light.

Nanowrimo

new hill

I’m starting a book for National November Writing Month. (nanowrimo) I’m going to write a new novel in the Waylaid series…which consists of one novel. No great shakes yet, but I’m working on it.

If you want to join in on my pain, look me up on nanowrimo.  @Sablehawk of course.

This isn’t science fiction, but I’m willing to help anyone who wants it. I know science fiction as well as anyone. This novel is more fantasy/history based.

 

Plasma Gun – Mad Science Stories

gun

There has been a lot of discussion the last few days about some fellow who printed a “plasma gun” and was shooting a bb at 450 ft/s. I’ve got some experience working with Dr. Mohamed Bourham back in 1992 – 1995. Plasma Engineering at NCSU. So I feel like responding to the usual threads.

The usual crap is:

  1. This must be fake.
  2. Regulate this before someone gets hurt.
  3. Really this isn’t very impressive.

 

  1. I don’t know much about 3D printing, ask Chad Ramey if you need to know. He runs (ran last year) Georgia Tech’s 3D lab. I’ve done some laser cutting and some milling, mostly plastic but a little steel. But, you can basically 3D print any shape. Usual limitations involve re-curvature and support of extended structures, same as any model building.
  2. Seriously, regulating 3D printing is as purposeless as regulating sex acts between consenting adults. Completely F*d up. Unless you decide to regulate the transfer of CAD files on the internet. You are outa luck.
  3. First off, 3D printing is cool, but milling is better. You can do a much better product with a 3D milling machine and a block of steel. Lexan makes a great ablative barrel material and a good bullet, but that’s it. This is a cute toy which could be sold next to the CO2 powered (paint ball) markers. No more dangerous (unless you shock yourself playing with wiring.)

So, what is a Plasma Gun?

Technical term – Electro-Thermal Chemical Plasma Device. Why? You use an electrical current to heat plastic so that it chemically changes into gas. The gas, mostly Hydrogen, is further heated to become a plasma. You get some Carbon deposition along the walls, which is good for encouraging all the current to flow through the gas. The Hydrogen gets hot, like 30 – 50,000 degrees Celsius. I normally divide by 11 k and call it electron-Volts, so around 3 eV.

The plasma expands at a much greater speed than speed of sound, so it won’t be limited to 1 km/s. Depending on how much energy you can get stuffed into that plasma. Well, a Dragon Con friend of mine asked for a plasma story, so I figure I can write that up today.

So, Here is the story. I was working in the lab and we had an idea to do an experiment, accelerating a 10 gram mass of Lexan with a plasma pulse. We were trying to determine how much momentum was coming down the barrel as a function of V applied. This mattered to some materials experiments we were working on. (Trying to separate out the thermal shock from the physical shock) So Eric and I decided to give it a try.

So, the ETCP device is set up in a wire Faraday cage about 10 feet on a side, lined with lead bricks. Hey, we worked in a reactor, there were lead bricks spare. We built three cubicles out of them, and lined them all with Faraday cages…we made a lot of EMP.

The device is solid stainless steel, bolted to the table, which is bolted to the floor. Very Immobile. The end was pointed directly at the wall, so if we pulled the rear seal off the experiment, the “bullet” er Lexan Mass would fly out of the back and hit a target in the center of the wall. We hooked up a pair of laser beams to measure the crossing speed of our 5 foot racetrack, and got to business.

I carved a bunch of 10 gram Lexan masses. They were about the size of your pinkie fingertip. (Little things) Eric put some bolts into the wall and suspended a chunk of Aircraft Aluminum, 3/4 inch thick, 4 inches wide, a foot long. We ran up a charge on our mass of capacitors. When we got to a good charge, I’d insert a bullet and we’d duck into our control room, turn on the warning light for 5 minutes, and he’d fire the gun. The Lexan converted to plasma on arrival on target, completely destroyed the bullet.

A few hours, a new charge, a new bullet, a new shot, a new velocity. Science! Each shot made a huge, single, noise. Like smacking a garbage can with a hammer. Scared the neighbors something awful.

So, at around 45,000 V, the shot made a sound like ringing a dinner bell, *ding a ling a ding a ling a ding a ling a ling a* It went on for a few seconds, louder, dimmer, louder, dimmer, louder… done.

We looked at each other, what the heck? Checked out the room, no damage, but the target was behind the control station folded in half. Marks on the walls, all the walls. Oh crap. The 10 gram mass of Lexan had folded the aluminum in half and bounced it off of every wall, probably twice. Dr. Doster decided that we didn’t need to be doing that experiment any more. But hey, we got to 3.54 km/s. Beat that.

The Weekend without Mom

dydraw2

Mom went on holiday, leaving me with the baby. No, this wasn’t some trauma, she had an offer and I thought she should go. Four ladies in a van for 12 hours and a couple days in a hotel. She had a good time. I will do road trips, but not with a baby.

The baby and I took some time to play. I don’t mean to demean anyone, but I’m a master at “staging work.” As soon as the baby is asleep, I moved a door upstairs and assembled it, patched a couple of dry wall screw holes, and re-hung some curtains. So, when the baby was awake, I could devote my weekend to her.

Some folks figure that I should work on Engineering things, like blocks, Legos, and screwdrivers, when I have the helm but she’s 3. I think the core educational issues are reading, using the potty, drawing with chalk, and running around in circles. We hit those hard.

Being the dad of the Worlds Cutest Baby (C) is a big responsibility, but I’m a fighter.

 

Dragon Con 2015 – After Action Report

I was going to add a big “Wrap Up” article for Dragon con, but I haven’t really been inspired. I loved my panels, but I can’t think of what I’d like to add to them right now. Maybe later.

If you want copies of any of the panels, email Hawk at Madscientist dot name. I’ll send you any of the power points that I have. Mars radiation went extremely well, Space 2050 went well. Space 2050 was the last panel of Dragon Con Space Track, ended at 3:30 Monday Afternoon.

space2050

People waited in line to get in, and it got stuffed to the gills.

The science panels were so full that people were left outside. Very Sad. Heck, the only panel that didn’t fill the aisles was “Fighting and Writing” and there were over two hundred people in the room, at 11 pm on Friday night.

I went to a couple panels that had space left. Sadly enough, the Atlanta Radio Theater show was 1/2 empty. Folks, If you have never been to ARTG, go. It is an experience worth having. I go every year. This year was Passion of Frankenstein. I’m buying that next year.

I also got in a swordfight. It cost a fortune to mail my armor to the ring and I’m still getting my son to mail it back, but that’s life.

ringsidegirls

I will pay extra to have a swordfight. These ladies aren’t just cheesecake, lovely as they are, both are experience fighters. I heard that one of them was running up the ranks, but had decided to help today instead of fight. I much appreciated the water and cheesecake.

Heck, some of the best conversation was during the Scotch tasting at Baen Barflies. I was sitting with a fellow who worked at Fermi Lab. We argued over some basics of physics, I got schooled in triggering for beam detectors. It really was interesting. I’m not sure it all means what he think it means, but I understand the beam-physics researchers point of view a bit better. I may someday get convinced there is a Quark-Gluon plasma. (Heck, I might believe in dark matter, dark energy, and responsible budget processes.)

You all have fun and keep in touch. I’ll try to be responsible about updating the blog.

No Updates – An update

Scheduling Conflicts,
Scheduling Conflicts

Sorry folks, I’m heading into Dragon Con in a few weeks and I haven’t updated this page in a year. I have had an unusual job issue, which was fixed by getting a new job. Unfortunately, this meant moving to Washington D.C. The current job doesn’t really like excessive publicity, so I haven’t worked the blog since coming onboard. I’ll consider ways to make it better in the future. (Also, I freaking hate this blog software. I’m changing that first.) So, I’m sorry for the terrible update. I’ll put more out there before Dragon Con, but … my time is limited.

What people think happens at my Day Job

First Nuclear Weapon Test Device
First Nuclear Weapon Test Device

What people think happens at Dragon Con

rare-64

OH, if anyone wants to borrow any pictures, I rarely post my own. ALMOST EVERYTHING ON THIS BLOG IS STOLEN! I shamelessly rip off Wikipedia and any public pictures. (If you see a picture that you own and want me to remove it, I will.) The only thing that’s mine is words…and the pictures of my kids.

 

Torn Knee Cartilidge

Yeah, a torn knee. Supposedly an “atheletic injury.” I suppose that 35 years of martial arts, 20 years of sword fighting, and 45 years of being a redneck hick probably earned me that a few times.

The first time I tore up my knee was biking up a mountain in a thunderstorm – actually just shy of a hurricane, they downgraded it to Tropical Depression that morning. Not that anyone told me. I was in Japan and back in ’93 and I don’t speak the local language, other than “Toire wa, doko des ka?” (Where’s the potty?)

 Mt Yari from Mt Washiba -C White

No, this isn’t the mountain I was biking. (but it is pretty) 

This looks more like the roads I was hitting, when cars weren’t trying to kill me. Not as pretty, but still pretty awesome.

I had a couple days off, my professor was in Tokyo for some reason, and I was biking near Tokai. The coast is mostly flat and a bit boring in the misty foggy rain. The roads near town were either unfriendly to bikes or tiny twisty things that with the constant big walls everywhere, aren’t much fun to ride.

There are a couple interesting climbs and some forest along the Mito line, which I went along for a while. Probably too long. I was getting blown around by the wind, so I headed up the mountain and hid out in some kind of general store for a while. I was soaked, my clothes were super-light weight (Japan was running 100 degrees and 100% humidity that week.) So I’m pretty drowned-rat in a light button down shirt and some khakis. The girl at the desk thought I was cute, so we attempted about two hours of cross-cultural, cross-lingual flirting. Not an epic fail… but pretty much a fail. By the time I got back to Tokai, my knees hurt – and kept hurting for a couple years. I used to run around in mocs, but had to move up to shoes with padded soles. The doctor said that I shouldn’t be biking for about 10 years recovering… well, I recovered. I’m still not back into biking, but I tried spinning yesterday (yes, with the bad knee. Just wanted to try it.) Frankly, unless I find a way to burn off some weight, my knees will have real problems. I’m about 15 lbs higher than I think is my standard weight, probably 25 lbs above ideal for my height/build. Somewhere around 175 lbs I’m a sexy beast. (heh, no, probably not, but a man’s got to have his illusions.)

Ron Rogers, he did preface this move saying, “This is gonna hurt.” It dislocated my shoulder.

Nobody warned me that this guy was big… getting busted by him was hard on the back, but I recovered.

This guy was just plain fun…

The Schola St. George was fun … (busted a finger)

Live steel is Da Bomb – though I had to buy titanium gauntlets to stop the constant string of busted fingers, knuckles, wrist…

But nothing beats chasing down people with swords…

Of course, there isn’t much to say. I keep busting myself up and I keep healing. I’ve broken more knuckles, ribs, toes, than I can count. Everything heals up fine…usually. Finally I’m hitting 46 and I don’t heal as fast as I used to.

I’d take off 10 years to let my knee heal…but that just doesn’t seem like a good idea anymore. I’d be 57 and … well.. I’d like to win a few more tourneys between now and then. Oh well, so I guess I get surgery.

If you pray, pray this goes well. If you don’t pray, I’d appreciate you learning, just for me. I’ll be under the knife around noon on August 5th. Should be back to my old self by Dragon Con 2014. Thanks!