Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author


Weird Science Tuesday

So, how about this?

World’s Largest Laser Could Solve Our Energy Problems

With lasers, scientists can recreate fusion reactions that occur within the center of the Sun and create the most extreme conditions on Earth. With the largest laser in the world, you can create temperatures of more than three million degrees Celsius. At this temperature, atoms can no longer exist. The electrons are stripped away from their respective nuclei and you’re left with a soup of ions and electrons – this is a plasma, the fourth state of matter….If done correctly, this fusion reaction could be self-sustaining and the energy produced from the reaction will be larger than the losses, a condition known as ignition….Although NIF are yet to achieve ignition, scientists are working super hard to get there and maybe one day our electricity will come from ‘man-made’ fusion reactions.

It sounds a little pie-in-the-sky, but interesting.

Here’s another:

Mach Effect Propulsion 2016 – it is proven, replicated and will scale to fast interstellar travel

The Mach-Effect thruster is a propellantless propulsion concept that has been in development by J.F. Woodward for more than two decades. It consists of a piezo stack that produces mass fluctuations, which in turn can lead to net time-averaged thrusts. So far, thrusts predictions had to use an efficiency factor to explain some two orders of magnitude discrepancy between model and observations. Here (M Tajmar) presents a detailed 1D analytical model that takes piezo material parameters and geometry dimensions into account leading to correct thrust predictions in line with experimental measurements. Scaling laws can now be derived to improve thrust range and efficiency. An important difference in this study is that only the mechanical power developed by the piezo stack is considered to be responsible for the mass fluctuations, whereas prior works focused on the electrical energy into the system. This may explain why some previous designs did not work as expected. The good match between this new mathematical formulation and experiments should boost confidence in the Mach effect thruster concept to stimulate further developments.

Hmm. Well, in the meantime it could be a handy SF plot device.

Continuing with seriously weird science:

“Structural” water makes for strong new glue

The concept of “structural water” has a long history. It is well known that water molecules near a suitable surface are compelled to ordered themselves into hexagonally shaped, single-layer sheets. In biological systems, molecules can bind to the surface or interior of proteins, which helps make them stable. …The key to making hydrogen bonds strong enough to form a sticky polymer was to use a type of compound called crown ethers. These are ring-shaped molecules that contain numerous oxygen atoms, with two carbon atoms between each. The oxygen atoms are able to form many hydrogen bonds with water. Individually they are weak, but become strong when added together. The team found that their best version of the crown ether molecule, which they called TC7, was a non-sticky powder when dry, but formed a strong adhesive when a small amount of water was added.

Sticky water. Huh. Who knew?

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