Akron Phy sics Club
Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, January 28, 1992 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM
Kicking off the new year for our first meeting on January 27 will be
Dr. David W. Allender of Kent State University,
whose topic will be
HIGH TEMPERATURE SUPERCONDUCTORS
As usual, we will meet at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. The Tangier is at 532 West Market. Please call in your reservation(s) to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Friday noon, January 24. And please don't forget to cancel if you should suffer a decline.
Minutes, January 28, 1992
At our first meeting of the year our speaker, Dr. David Allender of Kent State University's Physics Department exceeded our expectations with his briefing on the state of the art of HIGH TEMPERATURE SUPERCONDUCTORS. He got his presentation off the ground [sorry about that] with a real-world demon-stration of the Meisner effect -- levitating a small (pencil eraser-size) magnet above a chilled antimagnet of YlBa2Cu3O7, which quarter-size wafer of "poor metal" he reduced to the requisite 92°K by flooding its little moat with liquid nitrogen (which boils at 77°K [at our 900-foot altitude]). The tiny magnet initially floated a millimeter or two above the superconducting pad; but when Dave removed the magnet (with tweezers!) and replaced it -- thus inducing a larger current eddying through the wafer -- the magnetic cylinder floated significantly higher, turning happily on its axis in the flux.
Dave told us about the best "commercial" material currently available is Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3O10, which performs up to 110°K and is available in multi-stranded filament wires. The record holder of the moment, Ti2Ba2Ca2Cu3O10, operates up to 125°K. Such superconductive materials have a crystal structure consisting of stacks of planes (some "one-dimensional metals" have chains) involving copper oxide, with atoms missing in the array. How they work seems as much a mystery to their specialists as to us; but they are capable of producing fields of 20-30 Tesla with internal currents of 105 amps/cm2 -- adequate to levitate mass transit trains, an exciting concept. For further detail, Dr. Allender referred us to the June, 1991, issue of Physics Today.
In a refreshingly brief business meeting, Chairman Charlie secured approval of the membership to raise our dinner tab to $12 -- the extra dollar going to cover the dinner of an outside speaker -- or in the absence of same, to go into the treasury to defray expenses associated with our monthly mailing. With luck (and frugality on the part of your secretary) we may never have another dun for dues. Finally, with dedication beyond belief, John Liska valiantly volunteered to succeed the late Harry Pinnick as the club's treasurer -- to the utter delight of your secretary, who demonstrated during the course of the evening that this is not his line of work.
Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, February 14, 1992 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM
Speaker for our February meeting is to be our own Jack Strang, whose long-awaited topic will be: DID THE "BIG BANG" EVER HAPPEN?
As usual, we will meet at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. The Tangier is at 532 West Market. Please call in your reservation(s) [OR REGRETS] to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Friday noon, January 24. And please don't forget to cancel if you should turn into a pumpkin.
Minutes, February 14, 1992
Member Jack Strang was our speaker, and his topic was: “Did the Big Bang Ever Happen?”
Armed with scads of books, articles, notes and slides, Jack waded into this daunting subject, covering everything from astrophysics to cosmology to quarks and elementary particle physics. He pointed out various problems with the theory of the Big Bang, but noted that nobody yet had been able to put forward any hypothesis that provided any better agreement between astrophysical observations and theory. Jack concluded by expressing grave doubts that the Big Bang ever happened, while several members opined that they would probably hang on to the Big Bang concept at least until someone could propose something more convincing. The difficulties may reside as much in our deficient theoretical comprehension of such things as the fundamental forces of nature, quantum relativistic phenomena, elementary particles, black holes, the physics of both the very large and the very small, etc., as in the notion of the Big Bang.
In other business, it was decided that the May meeting would be held on the 3rd Monday (May 18) rather than the 4th Monday, since May 25 is Memorial Day this year...............Our Secretary, Jack Gieck, pointed out that we had a “world’s record” attendance at this meeting --- 18 persons! Swelling the crowd were 4 quests who were particularly interested in Jack Strang’s presentation, and we were very pleased to have them.
Our Program Chairman, Leon Marker, has lined up another excellent speaker for April 27. Prof. Richard Stein from U. Mass. currently visiting at Akron U. will discuss “The Interactions of Neutrons with Matter.”
Charlie Wilson, Substituting (This Time Only!) for Jack Gieck, who, at this very moment, may be snorkeling somewhere in
Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, March 23, 1992 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM
Please phone in your reservations (or regrets) to Substitute Secretary Charlie Wilson, 836-4167 by 3-19.
Our speaker this month is: Dr. Darrell H. Reneker, Director University of Akron Institute of Polymer Science
His topic will be: “Scanning Tunneling Microscopy”
Minutes, March 23, 1992
At our March meeting, Dr. Darrell H. Reneker, Director of the University of Akron's Institute of Polymer Science, (after reviewing some of the politics associated with Nobel Prizes) boggled our minds, and our retinae, with images created by his Institute's SCANNING TUNNELING MICROSCOPE -- following which he let us in on the technology of the ATOMIC FORCE MICROSCOPE, which actually measures vertical heights to within a tenth of an Angstrom, and repulsive forces of a single atom against another single atom, utilizing a subminiature scale -- a photo-reflective system comprised of a tiny silicon nitride mirror on an optical lever. The mechanical precision available in the two instruments was sufficient to preserve the bogglesome aura for some of us; viz. the scanning tunneling microscope's ability to snuggle within microns of a surface, then (aided by a computer) to creep to within 4 Angstroms before one can begin to see actual tunneling (utilizing a tunneling current of 10-9 amperes, 0.1 volts driving the bias current) on a screen having a resolution of 160,000 (400 X 400) pixels. Dr. Reneker pointed out that high resolution is attained over only three to four nanometers.
To give us a sense of the structure of a typical polymer being studied with such apparatus, Dr. Reneker unveiled (released is more like it) a model of a 50,000 MW polyethylene molecule, which slithered out of its box like an endless rattlesnake or the world's longest secular rosary -- depending on one's metaphorical fantasy orientation.
Finally, with our growing membership, PLEASE REMEMBER that Chairman Charlie announced a new policy that is the flip side of the old showbiz agent dictum: PLEASE CALL US. WE WON'T CALL YOU.
Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, April 27, 1992 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM
Speaker for our April meeting is to be;
DR. RICHARD STEIN
Morton Visiting Scientist
(University of Akron)
Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts
Dr. Stein will speak on THE INTERACTIONS OF NEUTRONS WITH MATTER;and he will no doubt discuss neutron scattering in general.
As usual, we will meet at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. The Tangier is at 532 West Market. Please call in your reservation(s) [OR REGRETS] to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Friday morning, April 24 (and please don't forget to cancel if you have to, so we don't get charged for your dinner).
Minutes, April 27, 1992
Speaker for our April meeting was Dr. Richard Stein, Morton Visiting Scientist, The University of Akron, and Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, who spoke (and showed us lots of overhead slides -- the first one customized for the Akron Physics Club!) on The Interactions of Neutrons with Matter.
In the course of his edge-of-our-chairs lecture, Dr. Stein outlined possible neutron sources, including U235 fission in a reactor; and he showed us a video of the king-size proton beam accelerator at Los Alamos, which shoots its heavy positive particles into a target to produce neutrons in the 4 Angstrom range. We also got acquainted with methods of detecting neutrons, including indirect ones, e.g. using BF3 or He3 as detectors, often in area arrays -- sensing ejected protons from these materials. We learned how he uses isotope identification for labelling, e.g. deuterating a polymer imbedded in a hydrogenated matrix to destroy the neutron transparency of the hydrogen -- thus confirming the structure of the polymer's molecular model. Other applications include surface analysis differentiation by means of neutron reflectivity -- an application useful in adhesion studies. (We even learned how to smuggle diamonds: submerge them in a liquid of equal refractive index!)
Your secretary, whose mind is readily boggled, was transported this time by a couple of concepts Dr. Stein layed on us. Quantifying the high- mass/low-velocity characteristics of neutron beams reveals that some of them travel slower than a jet plane (and, indeed, the beam sags in a gravitational field); yet, consistent with the familiar illogic of quantum mechanics, these streams of palpable, sluggish micronanospecks, flying at barely the speed of sound, also simultaneously constitute a wave (having a measurable wavelength in the 4 to 1000 Angstrom range) -- a wave, moreover, that passes freely through matter!
Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, May 18, 1992 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM
Speaker for our April meeting is to be our own Dr. Joseph D. Walter, Director of Research/Eng. R & D, Bridgestone/Firestone, whose topic will be:
Automotive Fuel Economy Standards for 2006,
AN ODYSSEY OF SCIENCE AND POLITICS
Joe was one of two industry members on a National Academy of Science committee that included academics, financial analysts, and consultants, which, after taking testimony from the likes of Bob Stempel of GM, Bob Lutz of Chrysler, and Allen Gilmour of Ford (plus union leaders, safety advocates, and others) has now published its report and made its recommendations.
As usual, we will meet at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. The Tangier is at 532 West Market. (PLEASE)n CALL IN your reservation(s) [OR REGRETS] to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Thursday Afternoon, May 15 (and please don't forget to cancel if you have to, so we don't get charged for your dinner).
Minutes, May 18, 1992
Giving new meaning to the "small CAFE" in the well-known lyric [transla- tion, "Corporate Average Fuel Economy," which turns out to be a somewhat tricky calculation], Dr. Joe Walter also established a record for our longest program title to date: "Automotive Fuel Economy Standards for 2006, AN ODYSSEY OF SCIENCE AND POLITICS," detailing Joe's experience as an industry member (one of only two) of a National Academy of Science committee whose 16 members included eight engineers, two chemists, two physicists, one lawyer, one economist, one financial-type, and one psychologist -- whose function could have included keeping a watchful eye not only on the mostly academic members of the committee, but also on the assortment of safety, forensic and other consultants who were committee witnesses (together with industry executives of a corporate level that made their salary per minute of testimony something for the financial-type to behold). [The length of that sentence, by the way, also establishes a new record; prizes are not offered for successfully diagramming it.]
Joe's impressive graphics demonstrated that our profligate use of gasoline is obviously related to the fact that we have by far the cheapest gas in the world (the Italians, for example, pay three to four dollars a gallon!). We saw how this encourages U.S. car buyers to squander attainable goals in engine efficiency by adding automatic transmissions, air conditioning, and other energy dissipating luxuries [1000-watt Road-QuakeTM boom-box speaker systems?].
The fact that new (less than one year old) passenger cars burn only 3% of the 30 "quads" [a quad turns out to be 1015 Btus] per year of petroleum consumed annually in the U.S. demonstrates the politicization of the issue. Indeed, politicians seem to be at their most creative when making up numbers, while ignoring quantified results thereof. For example, sacrificing a thousand pounds per car probably results in one to two thousand additional traffic deaths per year (even right-turn-on-red probably costs 50-60 lives per year).
Politically adjusted goals bandied about have ranged from 26 to 40 mpg. But never mind the final CAFE numbers agreed upon. Joe's solution is much more practical, and elegantly simple: a gas tax of a dollar a gallon, resulting in a price only two thirds that in the rest of the world, while generating $100 billion a year in revenue.
Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, September 28, 1992 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM
Kicking off our 1992-3 stellar program series will be: DR. WAYNE L. MATTICE, Alex Schulman Professor of Polymer Science, the University of Akron, whose subject will be:
MODELING OF POLYMER INCLUSION COMPLEXES
As usual, we will meet at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. The Tangier is at 532 West Market. Please call in your reservation(s) [OR REGRETS] to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Friday morning, September 25. And please don't forget to cancel if you should ill -- or your boxed dinner will be delivered to your bedside, together with a bill!
Minutes, September 28, 1992
Speaker for our first meeting of the new Physics Club season was Dr. Wayne L. Mattice, Alex Schulman Professor of Polymer Science, the University of Akron, and Ohio Eminent Scholar. His subject was "Modeling of Polymer Inclusion Complexes." Dr. Mattice began by showing us a beautiful graphic model of naked polyethylene, a great serpent of a molecule comprised entirely of carbon and hydrogen -- even as you and I (give or take a little nitrogen, oxygen, etc.). Then, molecular chef that he is, he cut off the head and tail of the serpent so that we could see and understand the two possible (trans and gauche) conformations of the resulting decapitated (and detailed) butane.
With the aid of what must be some mind-boggling software, our speaker then treated us to the results of a computer simulation of the probable conformations assumed by the writhing, vibrating serpent as, chameleon-like, it switches portions of its anatomy from trans to gauche when provoked. We saw plots of energy versus torsion angle at a variety of temperatures and energy levels, not only in the vacuum in which we had initially perceived the creature, but dunked and encapsulated in viscous inclusion complexes. We also saw trajectory plots of torsion angle versus time, and some striking carpet plots of probability profiles. A most interesting concept to some of us was that of a rotational "twiston" movement (no relation whatsoever to Chubby Checker), with all the elements in the chain in trans placement, but with all having undergone rotation in the same direction (at about 15_ per) -- thus having the potential to flip the entire molecule 180_ as the twiston traverses the chain like an oscillating organic laser.
It seems that, after initial energy input, the simulated model becomes randomized within one nanosecond, though this is by no means the case in a tenth of that time (Dr. Mattice's filmic software is capable of giving us one frame every half a picosecond!). Other conclusions to be drawn are that very rapid motion ensues with low activating energy; we have mainly rigid body rotation about the long axis, with only a minor contribution from torsional oscillations. And, sadly, for all its fascinating conceptual glamour, there is no contribution imparted from a twiston.
In a brief business meeting, our members contributed $5.00 each dues for the new season. Your secretary will dun those not in attendance.
Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, October 26, 1992 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM
Speaker for our October meeting will be PROF. JOHN WATSON of Kent State University, who recently returned from Russia, where he visited and lectured at a number of institutions. His subject, it follows, will be:
PHYSICS IN RUSSIA
As usual, we will meet at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. The Tangier is at 532 West Market. Please call in your reservation(s) [OR REGRETS] to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by 10:00 AM, Friday morning, October 23. And please don't forget to cancel if you must -- or else!
Minutes, October 26, 1992
Dr. John Watson of Kent State University, and his wife, Phyllis (whose presence we enjoyed at our meeting), had returned from a conference in Russia only a month before our speaker presented his insightful rundown of the current states of physics, culture, and the economy in a country beset by the tumultuous products of its recent (almost) bloodless revolution. John and Phyllis found a country that universally distrusts its own mail system, not because of censorship anymore, but because of theft -- especially mail from the West, which might contain hard-currency CASH. (With the plunging value of the ruble, a $20 bill was equivalent to a month's wages at the time of their visit.) Consequently, the announcement of the conference itself, and all of the Watsons' arrangements were made exclusively by electronic mail (FAX and Internet).
The conference on nuclear physics was held in Dubna, an island in the Volga River, that was a POW camp during World War II, and is still replete with towers for armed guards -- which redoubts may, indeed, still be manned, as are many security check points where bureaucrats (still on the payroll from the old days) pretend to verify visitors' identity, etc., even though no one in the government ever checks, or cares about any of that stuff anymore.
The conference had 155 participants, only 40 of whom were from the former Soviet Union. John's paper, "Nuclear Structure in Reactions at Low and Intermediate Energy Levels" (his specialty is instrumentation for measuring polarization of neutrons) was delivered in English, the official language of the conference, without benefit of an interpreter. And, indeed, one ancillary entertainment was listening to Germans or Russians arguing with each other on arcane points -- in English.
John Watson's assessments include the observation that Russian physics theory groups are world class (especially with the advent of their 386 and 486 PCs), but that the weaker experimental groups are handicapped by outdated equipment. On a broader scale, he believes (1) that the Russians are one of the best educated societies in the world -- although restrictions on travel for three generations have fixed their goals on educating children for the local community in which they happen to be born; (2) the country is rich in natural resources, including energy (e.g., natural gas, oil, coal); (3) the new intellectual freedom includes a mind-boggling tolerance of religious freedom; (4) the society is hamstrung by a devastating exchange rate and wretched self- serving management that has falsified nearly all records for two generations!
For a kind of encore, John presented an encapsulated version of his Dubna lecture, showing the pithiest of his overheads to a small rapt group.
Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, November 23, 1992 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM
Speaker for our November meeting will be DR. RON EBY, Robert C. Musson Professor of Polymer Science, University of Akron, whose subject will be:
STRUCTURE AND PROPERTIES OF SILKS
As usual, we will meet at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. The Tangier is at 532 West Market. PLEASE call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by 10:00 AM, Friday morning, November 20. And please don't forget to cancel if you must. THE CLUB GETS CHARGED FOR NO-SHOWS!
Minutes, November 23, 1992
Our last meeting of the year was attended by Georg Bohm, Mark Dannis, Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Bob Hirst, John Liska, Dan Livingston, Leon Marker, Pad Pillai, Irv Prettyman, Jack Strang, Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson. In a brief business meeting, the membership thanked John Liska for his magnanimous stint as treasurer this past year, and applauded Dan Galehouse for his generosity in assuming the club's fiscal mantle.
Our guest speaker, Dr. Ron Eby (Robert C. Musson Professor of Polymer Science, University of Akron) brought a guest of his own, a considerable arachnid by the name of Nephila Clavipes -- a.k.a. "The Golden Orb." His(?) presence was most appropriate, since, on demand, Mr./Ms. Clavipes is capable of producing hundreds of feet of the subject for Dr. Eby's talk, "The Structure And Properties of Silks" -- a fiber which is common not only to all spiders, but also to some wasps, mollusks, and, of course, those princes of silk, silkworms (whose metamorphic hideaways have been harvested and made into fabric in the Orient for 4 1/2 millennia). Somehow these wildly diverse fauna manage to extrude strands of remarkably similar structural protein (having a discrete molecular weight of the order of 100,000) from such dissimilar diets as insects, plankton, mulberry leaves, and (in the case of wasps) spiders. Which seems only fair. And which, perhaps, exemplifies the victory of DNA over biodiversity.
When first synthesized in the convoluted gland of Nephila Clavipes, the silk protein (produced from an amino acid monomer in a condensation reaction) appears as a 12 to 15 percent solution. As it moves through the galleries of the gland it assumes a liquid crystal phase as it is concentrated first to a low-viscosity 20% solution, then 30%. Finally, as water is rapidly removed, it becomes 90% protein by the time it emerges from the spinneret as a tough "dragline" -- instantly capable of supporting its maker -- who can rappel himself down this squirted line at will. And that's not all. He has six other dedicated spinnerets which he can activate at will -- each customized for a different purpose, e.g., catching prey, swathing prey, frame scaffolding, web building, gluing attachments, making egg cocoons. Fiber diameters run from 4 to 10 microns, with a tensile strength of 0.5 to 1.7 MPa -- thus comparing favorably with Nylon 66 at 0.875 and cellulose at 0.536, but not quite equaling Kevlar at 2.79 MPa.
Evaluating mechanical properties of the silk (plotting birefringence vs. strain under a microscope) reveals substantial hysteresis in the fiber, confirming the empirical observations of Charles Augustin de Coulomb more than two centuries ago when he experimented with using spider silk to suspend magnets -- which, naturally, led to the derivation of his torsion pendulum equation.
Speaker for our first meeting of 1993 will be our own Dr. Don Wiff, Head of Polymer Physics and Physical Testing for GenCorp Research. Don's subject will be:
As usual, we will meet at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. The Tangier is at 532 West Market. THIS TIME PLEASE CALL IN YOUR RESERVATION (or regrets) TO CHAIRMAN CHARLIE WILSON at 836-4167 by Thursday afternoon, January 21, in case your secretary has not returned from vacation in time. And don't forget to cancel by Monday if you should fall ill, since THE CLUB IS CHARGED FOR NO-SHOWS.