Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Presenting the new and improved: Ideal Rigid Connector!

Have you ever tired of flawed, weak, ordinary matter, that yields, and fractures, and melts? Have you ever wondered precisely what would happen in a given engineering scenario, or chafed that your materials did something entirely different from your first order idealized analysis? Have those pesky nonlinearities, inconstancies, and tightly bound performance envelopes of flawed earthly matter ever ruined your perfect plan? Well, with the new and improved ideal rigid connecting rod, all this is about to change! The Ideal Platonic Form Corp (LLC) (patent … uh … pending) Ideal Rigid Connecting Rod is made from new and unimprovable Idealized Matter ™. The properties of which are given below:

Ideal Matter - Physical Properties Summary
Yield Stress infinity MPa
Ultimate Stress infinity MPa
Cp infinity J/kg-K
Thermal Conductivity infinity W/m-K
Density 0 kg/m^3
Hardness infinity Brinell
Young's Modulus infinity MPa
Shear Modulus infinity MPa
Poisson's Ratio 0.33333
Electrical Resistivity 0 Ohm-m
Melting Temperature infinity K
Radiative Emmissivity 0
Fracture Toughness infinity MPa-m^0.5
Thermal Expansion 0 m/m-K

Your ideal rigid connector is made of 100% pure Idealized Matter, with two 1-cm diameter Ideal Ball-and Socket Joints (patent … uh… pending) on the end for interface. Of course, the development of Idealized Matter did not come about without a lot of effort. The initial production process is a strict secret. One of the chief difficulties was machining idealized matter into a usable form. Obviously, with infinite hardness and yield stress, not to mention fracture toughness, putting a dent in the material is a challenge. Known physics still does not tell you what happens when you try to machine Idealized Matter using Idealized Matter.

Fortunately for us, several blunted diamond drill bits, fried chemical pulse lasers, and destroyed carbide lathe tools later, we developed our unique Magic ™ Machining Process, whereby … something happens … and the final product comes out as per the drawing below!

An initial problem working with the matter was its identically zero density. The velocity of the material ended up being unconstrained by the forces exerted on it, leading to some unfortunate incidents with it accelerating instantly to the speed of light. This prompted us to put a bit of normal matter into the interfaces on the end.

Work with the initial Ideal Rod was delayed due to some unfortunate incidents attempting to interface to a zero radius part of infinite hardness and apply any meaningful resisting load. The original rod, unconstrained by either gravity or the ceiling went sailing off into deep space at the speed of light. To rectify this, the Ideal Ball and Socket Joints were added to manipulate the object.

Advice for using your Ideal Connecting Rod:

Never attempt to interface with the zero diameter rod portion of the rod (unless you want to use it as a cheese cutter). Also, do not attempt to weld or bond to the rod, since the material will not melt, and has a zero surface friction coefficient – it simply will not bond.

If you live in a state where the laws of physics are recognized, you could face severe civil and legal penalties for the unauthorized use of Idealized Matter. Though on the surface, these physical properties appear to be unrelated to each other, the idealization of a property for several sets of first order analyses end up generating contradictory properties, or rendering other laws of physics indeterminate with respect to the behavior of the substance. The very existence of Idealized Matter ™ may violate other more general laws of physics. Examples include the yield strength/fracture toughness/hardness set, and the difficulty in determining the temperature of idealized matter due to its zero density and infinite specific heat capacity.

Due to it’s zero resistivity (Ideal Supercondctivity ™), we do not recommend waving the ideal rigid connecting rod around next to high voltage lines, or during a thunderstorm.

Ordering Information:

Your Ideal Rigid Connecting rod is available at the low low (ideal) price of $0.00. Make your checks payable to the Ideal Platonic Form Corp (LLC), and send to our mailing address below:

381 Thisisnota Street
Espamville, Nigeria, 000-0000

By way of
1239 Lolwhatasucker Bvd.
Townonfastwheels, Dirkidirkistan.

(***NOTE: For those of you too devoid of humor to recognize that this is a joke - this is, in fact a joke. Do not send money to Nigeria (or Dirkidirkistan). If you do, don't come threatening me with a lawsuit).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

You might be an engineer if.....

  • You have no life - and you can PROVE it mathematically.
  • You enjoy pain.
  • You know vector calculus but you can't remember how to do long division.
  • You chuckle whenever anyone says "centrifugal force".
  • You've actually used every single function on your graphing calculator.
  • It is sunny and 70 degrees outside, and you are working on a computer.
  • You frequently whistle the theme song to "MacGyver".
  • You know how to integrate a chicken and can take the derivative of water.
  • You think in "math".
  • You've calculated that the World Series actually diverges.
  • You hesitate to look at something because you don't want to break down its wave function.
  • You have a pet named after a scientist.
  • You laugh at jokes about mathematicians.
  • The Humane society has you arrested because you actually performed the Schrodinger's Cat experiment.
  • You can translate English into Binary.
  • You can't remember what's behind the door in the engineering building which says "Exit".
  • You have to bring a jacket with you, in the middle of summer, because there's a wind-chill factor in the lab.
  • You are completely addicted to caffeine.
  • You avoid doing anything because you don't want to contribute to the eventual heat-death of the universe.
  • You consider ANY non-engineering course "easy".
  • When your professor asks you where your homework is, you claim to have accidentally determined its momentum so precisely, that according to Heisenberg it could be anywhere in the universe.
  • The "fun" center of your brain has deteriorated from lack of use.
  • You'll assume that a "horse" is a "sphere" in order to make the math easier.
  • The blinking 12:00 on someone's VCR draws you in like a tractor beam to fix it.
  • You bring a computer manual / technical journal as vacation reading.
  • The salesperson at Circuit City can't answer any of your questions.
  • You can't help eavesdropping in computer stores... and correcting the salesperson.
  • You're in line for the guillotine... it stops working properly... and you offer to fix it.
  • You go on the rides at Disneyland and sit backwards to see how they do the special effects.
  • You have any "Dilbert" comics displayed in your work area.
  • You have a habit of destroying things in order to see how they work.
  • You have never backed up your hard drive.
  • You haven't bought any new underwear or socks for yourself since you got married.
  • You spent more on your calculator than on your wedding ring.
  • You think that when people around you yawn, it's because they didn't get enough sleep.
  • You would rather get more dots per inch than miles per gallon
  • You've ever calculated how much you make per second.
  • Your favorite James Bond character is "Q," the guy who makes the gadgets.
  • You understood more than five of these jokes.
  • You make a copy of this list, and post it on your door (or your home page !) (Just did)

Short Post

Finals coming up... (and I'm trying to learn Java in my free time). Don't have a lot of time to post.

But, I just wanted to comment on something that sort of left an impression. I've noticed the expression "personal library" used to describe the collections of books that we buy and read. And anymore these days, it's true! I myself have accumulated a library worth of books that I've read (and not all of it is novels either)! Books, along with my computer, make up some of my most frequently used personal possesions.

These days, literature, novels, papers, information, if not available for free online, are easily accessible in print at a library or published for a reasonable price elsewhere. We have become ravenous readers.

Furthermore, the success and ubiquity of bookstores is another indicator that something is going very right with respect to our culture. It says something slightly different and more concrete than libraries (though the widespread use of those is also a good sign). The old kingdoms of medieval europe had libraries, but it didn't always translate into a well informed and literate population, just that the patrons thought it was a good idea. The fact that bookstores are doing so well in the modern first world is an indication that we are willing to pay for our literature, that there is a genuine interest in it.

Just something to think about, and be thankful for the next time you look at a bookstore.

Anyway, enough procrastination, back to work...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lunar Hydrogen Revisited:

Okay, I’ll have to eat a little crow here. Hydrogen is not as scarce on the lunar surface as I had previously believed. I was using information from some Apollo era books in our library on the composition of the local geology. However, the recent Lunar Prospector mission has revealed the presence of significantly better deposits of hydrogen in the “cold traps” of the lunar poles, areas of perpetual shade generated by crater walls where temperatures are cold enough for the hydrogen to condense.

Lunar prospector used the scattering of epithermal neutrons, and their absorption by hydrogen deposits in the soil, to detect the hydrogen deposits. If the conclusions of the following report are accurate, there could be on the order of 10^8 metric tons of hydrogen on either pole of the moon. This much hydrogen could easily support lunar bases. It could also support a few thousand nuclear thermal space missions using nuclear derived hydrogen fuel before being completely expended. This offers far better prospects for initial settlement of the moon and its use as a fuel base for missions farther out into the solar system.

Lunar Prospector Hydrogen Report

It was also mentioned somewhere else in some of my more speculative reading that cold traps may be constructed for industrial purposes, and that this could attract hydrogen from the solar wind to pool in the shade (though how slowly, I am unsure).

An additional resource: The map of neutron scattering.

NASA Data Maps