Akron Phy
sics Club

Archive 1996

January  Steve Cheng - Advances in Optical Uses for Polymer (Aromatic Polyimide) Coatings 
February  Avraam Isayev - Ultrasonic Devulcanization of Waste Rubber  
March  Neil Wells - Evolution: How it Works  
April  Heather Morrison - The Milky Way and its Violent History
May  Jack Gieck - The Nature of Squeaks: From Brakes to Violins
September  Leon Marker - Feynman’s Lost Lecture
October  Gerhard Kunze - Earthquakes and Their Causes
November  Bill Doane - Electronic Books and Newspapers





Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, January 22, 1996 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Speaker for the first meeting of the new year will be Steven Cheng, Professor of Polymer Science, the University of Akron. He will speak to us on:


Minutes, January 22, 1996

     Many years ago, when most of us were in high school, radio stations were required (when appropriate) to tell listeners that “this program came to you by electrical transcription.” We have a similar situation with these minutes, which are really the reprocessed (erudite) product of recorder Ernst von Meerwall, who kindly stepped into the breech when your secretary was ailing. Present, however, to hear Dr. Stephen Cheng, Professor of Polymer Science, the University of Akron, were Mark Dannis, Alan Gent, Bob Hirst, Dan Livingston, Leon Marker, Pad Pillai, Jack Strang, Ernst von Meerwall (obviously), Charlie Wilson, and guest Dan Fleming, who kindly brought GenCorp’s overhead projector — without which our speaker’s excellent graphics would no doubt have suffered! We will hope to see more of Dan, with or without a projector in tow. He’s cordially invited.

     Before the evening’s program, Chair[man] Charlie distributed copies of our proposed bylaws, asking that we look them over and suggest any needed changes. Copies will be sent to absentees before this secular rubric is adopted by the member- ship — thereby, perhaps, lending an air of permanence and substantiality to our club, now in the sixth year of its reincarnation.

     Steve Cheng is advised that members characterize his presentation, retitled “Recent Advances of Aromatic Polyimides in Optical Presentations,” as tight, very well organized, extraordinarily enthusiastic, and one it is too bad to have missed. (We hope to see more of him, too!) The work on which Dr. Cheng reported was done in collaboration with Prof. Frank Harris.

     The polyimides they have developed, aside from their thermo-mechanical and chemical stability, are rigid molecules, films made of which exhibit substantial structural anistropy — an attribute revealed by X-rays, in which quantitative indications are obtainable from the difference between results of reflection and transmission. In films, the molecules’ preference for in-plane orientation resembled, our speaker suggested, that of chopsticks strewn across a table (especially if one causes such a disturbance in a Korean restaurant, where the [reusable] chopsticks tend to be metallic and heavy). That is, they are dispersed in a randomly angled pattern in a single plane. The resulting uniaxial negative birefringence in the film contrasts with the positive birefringence the same molecules exhibit in fibers, an effect nicely correlated with the results of dielectric analysis. The in-plane refractive index, as a consequence, is different from that in out-of-plane.

     These connections between the molecular construction of polymers and their optical properties turn out to be very useful tools. Since the very nature of liquid crystal displays (ref: Bill Doane’s revelations about how our LCD watch faces work) involve substantial birefringence, they have a narrow viewing angle. Although they look great when viewed at 90°, there is substantial distortion and loss of contrast when viewed off-angle (the result of the anistropy of the refractive index tensor). While this can even be an advantage when operating a lap-top computer while sitting next to a stranger, it can be dangerous when trying to view aircraft cockpit digital read-outs on the other (pilot’s) side of the instrument panel, especially if, as copilot, one is trying to control the airplane in an emergency.

     The solution offered by the work of Cheng and Harris is a polyimide film of the order of one mil in thickness, whose degree of positive birefringence precisely cancels the negative birefringence characteristic of the LCD. Their implementation required elaborate design and testing of molecules having coplanar dibenzyl rings twisted 90°, without affecting film transparency, processability using harmless solvents, decent mechanical properties, and economic viability.

     The resulting UA-patented material (with a glass transition temperature near 325°C and a molecular weight near 30kDa) is expensive, but its film thickness of only a few mils renders its cost moot. It is currently in routine production for the six large LCDs in the front office of the new Boeing 777 jetliner, and is contemplated for use in LCD displays in 1997 luxury cars, and in displays for portable civilian GPS satellite navigation computing receivers — leading to such innovations as moving map displays in our personal cars that will be viewable by navigator wives (or navigator husbands) in the passenger seat as well as by the driver.

     “Particularly impressive to the audience,” recorder von Meerwall reports, “was the close connection between the molecular construction of the polymers and their detailed mechanical and optical properties — a veritable tour-de-force in the arcane science of structure-property relationships.”

     In conclusion, he observed that “we left exhilarated by this obvious success story, whose end is still nowhere in sight at any viewing angle!”

     NOW THEN: As regards our upcoming meeting: Please call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Thursday afternoon, February 22. And please don't forget to cancel if you must. As usual, we will meet at Tangier (532 West Market) at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. See you there, we sincerely hope.

Jack Gieck


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, February 26, 1996 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Our speaker for February will be Dr. Avraam Isayev, Professor of Polymer Engineering, the University of Akron. He will speak to us on:


Minutes, February 26, 1996

     Present on a spectacularly warm evening for February, and constituting what must have been substantially more than a quorum (relevant to our first order of business!) were Aggie Aggarwal, Jim Beecher, Mark Dannis, Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Bob Hirst, Dan Livingston, Leon Marker, Pad Pillai, Darrell Reneker, Jack Strang, Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson.   By unanimous vote, and without a flicker of dissent, Chair[person] Charlie Wilson’s by-laws (final edition of  February 7, 1996) received a tumultuous approval from the multitude, providing our club with a new sense of legitimacy (and providing documentation that will enable an arm of the government to investigate us, should they so choose).

     Which brings up a point: Charlie reminds us that, in accordance with Article II of our new by-laws, it will be time to elect officers at our May meeting. So, when you call in your reservations, any nominees for officers who will begin their terms in the in fall will be gratefully (and anonymously) received by your secretary.

     Further evidence of our reality was provided by Treasurer Dan Galehouse, who announced that for the first time since 1994, we were running short of operating cash. Accordingly (and since we had a big turnout), an assessment of $5 per member was instituted and accomplished. Absentees will be politely dunned upon their return; we trust this knowledge will not constitute a deterrent.

     In a stimulating, well-prepared presentation — especially for this group, whose members are mostly products of the Rubber City in one way or another — our speaker, Dr. Avraam I. Isayev, Professor of Polymer Engineering (who received his doctorate from the Institute of Petrochemical Synthesis, USSR Academy of Sciences, and who earlier earned degrees in chemical engineering and applied mathematics) provided a state-of-the-art review of Ultrasonic Devulcanization of Waste Rubber, detailing his experimentation at the University of Akron and mathematical modeling of his results to date.

     Putting mascerated rubber into a hopper that feeds an extruder, Dr. Isayev’s pilot-process apparatus forces the extruded mass emerging through a 6.35mm diameter hole, into intimate physical contact with a 12.7mm horn vibrating at 20K Hz, with an amplitude of typically 10 microns. The resulting cavitation in the rubber sample literally tears apart the chemical bonds in the elastomer as tiny bubbles rapidly form and collapse in the material.

     Elastomers successfully devulcanized in these experiments to date have included tire buffings, natural rubber, SBR, fluorocarbons, NBR, silicones, and EPDM. There also seems to be some promise in decrosslinking plastics, including polyethylene and PEV.

     In conventional sulfur-cured rubber compounds, the process seems to transform polysulfidic bonds into cyclic sulfur structures, with some mono and disulfidic linkages. But, in addition to breaking these chemical bonds, cross-link density becomes significantly lower than that of the virgin compound. Cross-link density decreases substantially with increased horn amplitude and with increased process temperature — which is, therefore, controlled by cooling.

     The result is vulcanizates having a tensile strength of the order of 1500 psi, with the promise of 2000 psi — obviously substantially higher than reclaim materials produced by conventional chemical-and-steam methods, pyrolysis, etc. Operating with a 2.5mm amplitude at a temperature of 121°C, Dr. Isayev’s pilot apparatus can continuously produce 50 lb of gel an hour, with the promise of 100 lb/hr in the next few months. Our speaker believes that, when scaled up, the process can yield very attractive economic results compared with present methods — which seems probable to this observer when viewed from a cost-per-property-value perspective.

     Reflecting his background in mathematical modeling, our speaker presented an extensive set of formulas designed to actually solve for cross-link density and other properties, based on frequency, amplitude, material density, surface tension, and resulting bubble size.

     The protracted discussion which followed Avraam’s presentation was evidence of the group’s considerable interest in his topic.

     AND NOW ONE MORE TIMEPlease call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) for our upcoming meeting by Thursday afternoon, March 21. And please don't forget to cancel if you must. As usual, we will meet at Tangier (532 West Market) at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30.

Jack Gieck


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, March 25, 1996 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Our speaker for March will be Dr. Neil Wells, paleontologist and Professor of Geology, Kent State University. Having just returned from Madagascar, he will speak to us on:


Minutes, March 25, 1996

     Present for our first meeting after the vernal equinox (for an outstanding program) were Georg Bohm, Mark Dannis, Tom Dudek, Dan and Ben Galehouse, Alan Gent, Jack Gieck, Dan Livingston Leon and Eve Marker, Pad Pillai, Jack Strang and his guest, Roger Rowley, Don Wiff, and Charlie and Marty Wilson.

     In the only significant business of the evening, Treasurer Galehouse reported that our recent dun has resulted in the club’s returning to the black, with a grand cache of some $55 in the kitty. Your secretary reported that he had received only one set of nominations for officers for the new year. These are: Ernst von Meerwall, Chair, Leon Marker, Program Chair, Charlie Wilson Vice PC), Dan Galehouse, Treasurer, Jack Gieck, Secretary. I have forgotten the name of the Vice-Chair and Charlie is on a cruise!! [It’s just like the president of the United States!!!] You are entreated to add your own recommendations, either when calling in your reserva-tion, or by mailing them anonymously to 1761 Karg Drive, Akron 44313.

     Having just returned from Madagascar, our speaker, Dr. Neil Wells, paleontologist and Professor of Geology, Kent State University, could not have been more primed to imbue us with the basics of Evolution and How it Works. Like Australia and the Galapagos Islands, Madagascar represents a remote location where a new species in the absence of competition can diversify and also undergo convergence (the flip side of divergence) — two of the new, or at least more carefully defined, concepts we acquired. Although a more recent isolated refuge than the other two, Madagascar actually remained isolated for some 50,000,000 years.

     Other concepts our speaker explored included details of biochemical evolutionnon-ideal contrivanceimperfections, and transitional forces that result in diversification.

     After briefly disposing of the misrepresentations and confusion of “creationists,” Neil showed us some remarkable examples of homology, e.g. the similarities in the wings of a bird, a bat, and a pterosaur, demonstrating the relationship of their components to the hands of primates, for example. We saw and/or heard about some remarkable vestigial remnants. Who among us would have guessed that one in 150 dolphins grows legs? Or that sperm whales have been found with legs more than four feet long?

     We were persuaded to accept the Darwinian notion that natural selection really does produce such remarkable structures as the mammalian eye and ear, or the mimicry of a walking leaf, or the frightening “eyes” on butterfly wings, through the mechanisms of genetic variabilitypartial developmentinheritance, and selective survival, with inherited changes.

     The extremely wide range of dogs (some of them unfortunate examples of human arrogance in this writer’s view) produced by artificial selection points up the inherent variability available to draw upon in canine genes.

     Dr. Wells even disposed of the argument (sometimes advanced by creationists with a determination to sound scientific) that evolution is a violation of the second law of thermodynamics — that it suggests decreasing entropy. But the biochemical infrastructure of the earth, our speaker pointed out, is, after all, driven by the not inconsiderable daily bath of solar energy impinging upon the earth.

     In answer to some of the questions arising out of a spirited discussion, other recorded Nealisms [it does sound too much like “nihilism, but “Wellsisms” doesn’t work] include:

     “There is the tendency to think of evolution as a grand march to us.” Instead, “it is largely about the vagaries of who happens to come through an extinction better.”

     “Everything comes at a cost; sometimes the cost is not worth the game.”

     “Man is the first species to be immune from evolution, because we control our environment.” As to our future, “intellectual evolution will likely supersede biological evolution.”

     And, lest we get too cocky, “Some bizarre forms have lasted 30,000,000 years longer than we have.”

     NOW THEN: Since his chairman-helper will be on a cruise, please take pity on your secretary and call in (so I don’t have to call you) your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Thursday afternoon, April 18th. And please don't forget to cancel if you must.

     As usual, we will meet at Tangier (532 West Market) at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. See you there. (You can remind me who the VC is to be!)

Jack Gieck


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, April 22, 1996 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Our speaker for April will be Dr. Heather Morrison, Professor of Astronomy, Case Western University. She will speak to us on:


Minutes, April 22, 1996

     Present to hear astronomer Dr. Heather Morrison were husband Paul Harding, together with Akron Physics Club stalwarts Jim Beecher, Mark Dannis, Dan Galehouse, Alan Gent, Jack Gieck, Bob and Brigitte Hirst, Leon Marker, and Ernst von Meerwall — our number having been substantially reduced due to a flu bug, an extended cruise, and an apparent wave of amnesia.

     Treasurer Galehouse reported that the value of our treasury has sunk to $32.87, partly because of unpaid dues. Our fraternal debtors, accordingly, are urged to send a $5.00 check to Dan Galehouse, 15764 Galehouse Road, Doylestown, OH 44230 (made out to Dan, since our club’s trivial balance is spurned by local banks!).

     Orienting her audience [re: THE MILKY WAY GALAXY AND ITS VIOLENT HISTORY], speaker Morrison began by showing us a variety of galaxies, including the magnificent, very regular spiral of the Great Nebula in Andromeda, the bleary-eyed ring nebula of Lyra, an ancient globular cluster, the Horsehead Nebula, as well as several bad spirals, of which our Milky Way Galaxy turns out to be one. We learned that [with typical human arrogance going back to the Ptolemic polemic, the Old Testament, etc.] we believed we were in the center of this one until well after 1900. In actuality, we turn out to be about half way out in a bar-shaped bad spiral, with a radius of about 24,000 light years. It’s about 50,000 light years to the end of the bar (there probably are the makings of a saloon joke there).

     In a kind of Galaxies 101 overview, Heather showed us how she and her colleagues have studied the history of galactic formation from their “fossil record,” (e.g. studying the composition of very old stars — from which we can learn something about how they were born) as well as the very “young” galaxies seen by light finally arriving here from distances near the end of the visible universe. And how, for a rough idea, there is the shortcut of just looking at the color of their stars: young bright blue stars only a million years or so old; maturing, middle-aged yellow stars like our sun, often near the center, etc.

     To this chromatic end we were treated to a series of slides representing the work of David Malin — pictures which reveal the magnificent color that we humans miss in the night sky because we are seeing primarily with rod vision. There just isn’t enough brightness to activate the (low ASA like the old Koda-chrome) cones in our fovea. Malin pioneered the technique of taking his time exposures on sensitive black & white film through three primary-color filters.

     The results are breathtaking: “Flaming” ionized hydrogen in the Orion Nebula (with an infrared center) humbles the artist-illustrators of Dante’s Inferno.

     Which lead directly to the climax of Heather Morrison’s lecture. Making good on the title of her talk, “The Milky Way Galaxy and its Violent History,” our speaker showed us graphic evidence of galactic cannibalism — hapless galaxies being torn apart as they are swallowed up by the twin of our Milky Way Galaxy (Indece 891). Although there are no direct stellar collisions, one can see the puff in the middle of predator galaxies due to their increase in energy as they consume cosmic material. It is at least as exciting as the chase in Bullitt, albeit somewhat slower.

Addenda included:

- Astronomers have abandoned their concept of an “epoch of galaxy formation.” They (galaxies, not astronomers) are still forming — and eating each other up.

- With its new monocle fitted to correct the astigmatism in its 2.4-meter mirror, the Hubble Space Telescope has lost about one stop (50% in brightness), but now has very little angular distortion.

- Hubble’s “video screen” is 800 X 800 pixels — making its resolution about half way between our American NTSC television raster and the much promised HDTV. The Hubble has four cameras.

- We now have evidence of five (5!) extra-Solar-System planets — about 40 light years away. But they’re a little odd by our standards: the size of Jupiter with the orbit of Mercury! Nice place to visit, but you probably wouldn’t want to live there.

     A CHANGE: To avoid the semi-awkwardness of having the speaker take reserva-tions (or regrets!) for his own program, Chair[man] Charlie has volunteered to take reservations at 836-4167. Please call him or his friendly answering machine by Thursday afternoon,May 16th. (Our meeting is a week early this month because of Memorial Day). As an added inducement, we will have ELECTION FESTIVITIES! And please don't forget to cancel if you must. As usual, we will meet at Tangier (532 West Market) at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30.

Jack Gieck


 Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, May 20, 1996 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Speaker for our last meeting of the season will be itinerant engineer Jack Gieck — who, encouraged by some of the membership, acquired an 11,000 frame-per-second high-peed motion picture camera to study:

A Sequel - With an Assist by Hermann von Helmholtz

Minutes, May 20, 1996

     As a first order of business for our last meeting of the season, treasurer Dan Galehouse announced that the club’s treasury amounted to the grand sum of $35.92, thus letting us make it through the 95-96 season, but portending a probable $5.00 assessment early in the new season. Which brings up a communique from Tangier over the summer: After five years of holding the line, our five-star host finds it necessary to increase its charge by a dollar (a 10-cent value in 1946 currency), so the new tariff for attending our dinners will increase to $13.00 (the extra buck going for postage and outside speaker meals).

     As its last act before adjourning for the summer, the group (Aggie Aggarwal, Mark Dannis, Dan Galehouse, Bob Hirst, Dan Livingston Pad Pillai, Darrell Reneker, Jack Strang , Ernst von Meerwall, Charlie Wilson, and Jack Gieck [who brought a guest, Bruce Norton]) then elected a new slate of officers to comply with the society’s new by-laws. By unanimous consent of the members present, the new officers are:

Chair............................... Ernst von Meerwall 
Vice-Chair.......................Darrell Reneker
Secretary....................... Jack Gieck
Treasurer....................... Dan Galehouse
Program Chair................Leon Marker
Program Vice-Chair......Charlie Wilson

     When your secretary pinch hit in April, 1994, he presented a re-run of his 1965 SAE paper on the causes of squealing brakes, showing ultra-slow motion (3000 fames per second) films of “stationary” brake components vibrating at their natural frequency under the excitement of brake lining having a high ratio of static-to- dynamic coefficients of friction, i.e., “a relaxation oscillator weakly coupled to a strong-willed resonator.” Encouraged by several members, the speaker promised to investigate whether the bowing of a violin string is a variation of the same mechanism.

     So, at our May meeting, speaker Jack Gieck made good on his promise with a program entitled, “The Nature of Squeaks: From Brakes to Violins — With an Assist by Herman von Helmholtz,” which may be the longest title the club has endured to date. Using his recently-acquired 16mm, 11,000 frames-per-second Hycam motion picture camera operating at 4000 fps (at which speed 100 feet of film zips through in just over one second) lit by tungsten GE lamps five times as bright (and as hot!) as the noon-day sun, the speaker photographed the interface of a violin bow with the “G” string of one of his fiddles, only to confirm the findings that Herr Helmholtz presented to the Glasgow Philosophical Society in his 1860 paper, “On the action of the Strings of a Violin.”

     To conduct his experiments (since he didn’t have a Hycam — or electricity), Helmholtz had made a mechanical oscilloscope/stroboscope, which he called a “vibration microscope” — mounting the objective lens of a microscope on a large tuning fork and attaching a grain of white starch to a black violin string. In his published paper, Helmholtz wrote that “during the greater part of each vibration, the string is carried on by the bow. Then it suddenly detaches itself and rebounds, whereupon it is seized by other parts of the bow and again carried forward.”

     Further, Helmholtz found that the string never vibrates in its apparent misty shape of an ellipse with pinched ends. Rather, it is always two straight lines, intersecting at the “discontinuity” first induced by the pull of the bow. During the “slip” phase of the resulting slip-stick phenomenon, this discontinuity point makes a complete circuit around the string before the bow seizes it again as the lateral velocity of the string matches the longitudinal velocity of the bow, thus creating the “stick” mode — 440 times each second in the case of an “A” string — counter-clockwise on an up-bow, and clockwise on the down-bow.

     Both the slip-stick action and the traveling discontinuity were apparent in the speaker’s movie, as was the higher-frequency damped rotational vibration of the string itself (about the center of its cross section), as predicted by our late treasurer and physics-of-music expert, Harry Pinnick.

     ONCE AGAIN, THE MONTHLY ENTREATY: PLEASE don’t forget to call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Thursday afternoon, September 19th. And please don't forget to cancel if you must.

     As usual, we will meet at Tangier (532 West Market) at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. See you there.

Jack Gieck


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, September 23, 1996 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Topic for our first meeting of the new season is to to be:


. . . as translated from original Feynmanian notes by our own Leon Marker, a fan and collector of anecdotes floating in the wake of the late prelector’s career.

Minutes, September 23, 1996

     BULLETINSince our September meeting, our friend and colleague, Aggie Aggarwal died after suffering two heart attacks while visiting his family in Vermont. An obituary and an editorial from the Akron Beacon Journal are enclosed.

     At our September meeting (attended by Georg Bohm, Mark Dannis, Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Bob Hirst, Dan Livingston Leon Marker, Pad Pillai, Darrell Reneker, Jack Strang , Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson), Treasurer Galehouse advised that “we are stable but not rich; we are holding our own” (if $38 and change can be so characterized), but an assessment is likely in the near future, especially in anticipation of the next item: Leon Marker suggested that we need a contingency plan for an overhead projector in the event that GenCorp’s machine becomes unavailable to us in the future. Dan Galehouse advised that the University of Akron’s equipment auction (the following Saturday) might be a possibility, and Jack Gieck suggested two sources of refurbished machines — which might be purchased for perhaps $100. Accordingly, Galehouse and Gieck were commissioned to see what they could find, and they will report their results at the next meeting.

     Our own Leon Marker (it was also Leon who called me on Tuesday with the news about Aggie) presented a program entitled “Feynman’s Lost Lecture.” Leon supplemented a recorded Feynman lecture with slides, a “translation,” and a series of anecdotes about the famous maverick. [The CD on which the lecture was recorded constituted its own instructive demonstration of how scarring of the business surface of the plastic record can obscure the (obviously rather short on this CD) buffer links that receive the sampling beam, occasionally causing Richard Feynman to sound more like Stephen Hawking.]

     “Feynman,” Leon explained, “created a mythology about himself — by design.” The physicist began to emerge as a star as early as 1949, with his work on the interaction of electrons with neutrons. His “lost” lectures (because his notes consisted of a few scratchings on a single sheet of paper) from 1961-63 at Cal Tech were reconstructed by David Goodstein [and Marker] from these “notes,”casual photographs (and equally casual tape recordings), as well as post mortems in the Cal Tech cafeteria after the lectures, as well as Goodstein’s own readings of Copernicus and Newton — references which figured in Feynman’s lecture on planetary motions. These went back to Ptolemy’s “epicycles” (Ptolemy was heavily influenced by Aristotle and Plato) .

     Our speaker explained that, to stay out of trouble with the Church (whose intransigent position, according to Leon, was much more the result of its respect for Aristotle than reverence for the Old Testament), Copernicus never directly claimed that the sun was the center of our planetary system, but merely that it would be “simpler for calculation purposes” if this assumption was made.

     In discussing Kepler’s writings, based on the work of Tycho Brahe, and his revelation that planetary orbits were elliptical [nice graphics to illustrate the point, Leon], it developed that our speaker was the only man in the room who had read Kepler directly. Apparently Kepler’s prose is rough going, since, our speaker explained, “Kepler was a mystic.”

     The bottom line to all of this was Feynman’s (and Marker’s) brilliant reconstruction of Newton’s completely geometric proof (since Newton had not yet invented the calculus) as published in his Principia — an “elementary” demonstra-tion (albeit “not easy to understand”) that as a particle, i.e., a planet, moves from point to point about an elliptical orbit, there is necessarily an impulse toward the focus, i.e., the sun.

     Feynman expanded his conceptual demonstration to explore Rutherford’s (flawed) concept of the atom, and how Rutherford should have thought about it — specific., that atoms had a hard center: a nucleus.

     AND NOW, IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN: PLEASE don’t forget to call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Thursday afternoon, October 24th. And please don't forget to cancel if you must.

     As usual, we will meet at Tangier (532 West Market) at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. See you there.

Jack Gieck


Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, October 28, 1996 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Guest speaker for our October meeting will be Dr. Gerhard Kunze, geophysicist, a member of the University of Akron’s Department of Geology. Dr. Kunze will speak on:


Minutes, October 28, 1996

     In attendance for our October meeting were Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Dan Livingston Leon Marker, Pad Pillai, Darrell Reneker, Jack Strang , Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson, as well as Diana Kunze, wife of our speaker, Dr. Gerhard Kunze.

     In preprogram club business, Treasurer Galehouse advised that his new (albeit very infrequent) $5.00 assessment of the evening had restored the (double-digit) financial health of the treasury. Your secretary noted that we had lost five members in recent months: Aggie Aggarwal’s obituary had been enclosed with the meeting announcement; Mark Dannis had called to say that his health will not permit him to attend anymore; Irv Prettyman had communicated similar regrets not that long ago; and, casualties of the self-destructive GenCorp purge, Don Wiff has accepted a position with the Air Force in Dayton and Jim Beecher called to say he is going to work for Champion Paper Co. in Cincinnati — despite his family’s deep roots in Akron. In better news, Dan Galehouse announced his fortuitous purchase of a beautiful new overhead projector (from Rex’s Salvage) that he will (graciously) be willing to bring to future club meetings for our speakers’ use.

     Speaking on Earthquakes and Their Causes, our October speaker, Jerry Kunze (geophysicist and a member of the University of Akron’s Department of Geology), began by explaining such fundamental concepts as earthquakes being essentially a shaking of the ground due to elastic waves, which have both vertical and lateral excursions of some magnitude, and which are either volcanic or tectonic in nature. We learned that ruptures 20 km and down (i.e., fault slip) typically have failure angles as high as 45°. And there are several fault types, including “normal” faults, reverse faults, strike-slip faults (e.g. San Andreas), and thrust faults (e.g. the 1964 Alaskan quake which did not break the surface [indeed, most don’t]), although that one involved a rupture 800 km long. The famous 1906 San Francisco earthquake produced a 500 km rupture, with a fault slip displacement of 21 feet.

     The amount of energy released in major quakes, our speaker reported, is staggering. Accelerations sometimes exceed one g vertically, while producing surface waves several feet high. When combined with soil liquefaction (causing sand flow and/or landslides in hilly regions) the result can be almost like a volcanic eruption — except that trees sometimes sink into the ground! Seismic sea waves hundreds of feet high, traveling at 500 mph (they cross the Pacific in 12 hours) have been known to wash islands clear of trees. Some 75,000,000 people, Jerry said, have been killed by earthquakes in recorded history — the greatest toll occurring in China in 1566, when 830,000 perished in a single quake. China had a similar disaster south of Peking in 1976 when a quake of 7.8 magnitude killed 600,000.

     Dr. Kunze also outlined a history of the development of Richter’s indicator, whose meaning has changed over the years as its criteria were redefined. These now include fault slip displacement, area, and shear modulus of the medium. As presently calculated, the practical upper Richter limit is about 10.5. To relate these numbers to human (and news media) perception, as well as to the measurable release of energy, our speaker gave us the following tables — bearing in mind that the Hiroshima bomb was a 4 X 1022 ergs event (and without suggesting we keep a copy in in our wallets when traveling in China or California):

Mag No/Yr Class
8-9 1 Great
7-8 18 Major
6-7 110 Destructive
5-6 1000 Damaging
2-3 300,000 Perceptible
8.9 1025.1 ergs
8.0 1023.8
7.0 1022.3
6.0 1020.9
5.0 1019.4

     Although this reporter must leave out much more fascinating data from this account, our speaker concluded by addressing current work in earthquake prediction, mostly in China (80% of earthquakes, he had showed us in his copious graphics, occur in the volcanic ring of fire around the Pacific Ocean), listing such precursors as a decrease in p-wave velocity (as received from distant earthquakes), ground water levels rising and falling, increase in radon levels in ground water, changes in electrical resistance of the ground, magnetic changes, surface tilts, and strange animal behavior (not altogether wild: Do they hear micro-fractures in rock; smell radon?). Using such criteria, the Chinese predicted a 1975 earthquake to the day.

     For something that has been going on for 4.5 billion years, Jerry Kunze sure makes geophysics exciting.

     Which brings us once again to the doxology: PLEASE don’t forget to call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Thursday afternoon, November 21st. And don't forget to cancel if you must.

Jack Gieck



Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, November 28, 1996 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Guest speaker for November (actually, we’re pleased to announce that he has asked to be added to our membership roster) will be Dr. William J. Doane, professor emeritus of physics, who recently retired as Director of Kent State University’s Liquid Crystal Institute, having founded Kent Displays, Inc. It’s taken years to get him to return to our lectern; and this time Bill’s topic is:


Minutes, November 28, 1996

     In attendance for our October meeting were Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Dan Livingston Leon Marker, Pad Pillai, Darrell Reneker, Ernst von Meerwall, Charlie Wilson, and our new member and speaker of the evening, Dr. William Doane, together with his Wife, Shirley.

     Bill’s announced topic had been Electronic Books and Newspapers, but it got broader than that. He began by playing (on an incredibly heavy state-of-the-art CRT video monitor) an introductory film produced by publisher Knight Ridder, introducing the concept of the “Tablet Newspaper.”

     “Very much lighter displays are needed for the future,” our speaker declared — a verity to which those of us who attempted to move his CRT monitor can attest [as evidenced by twinges reemerging from long-forgotten inguinal hernias]. The concept promoted in the video, a thin display plaque about the size of a clipboard, capable of reflectively exhibiting digitally-transmitted text and pictures, has yet to be invented — although the postcard-size real-world sample that Bill passed around with copy “frozen” on its surface demonstrated the practicality of the idea.

     Having achieved such a transition from ink to electronic tablets, newspapers could structure the page like a web site, with links from “front page” articles to more detailed stories “within,” and to other references, e.g an index, with the option of changing the type size for optimum reading comfort, and other possibilities that readily occur to wordprocessing geeks [or Giecks] — e.g. choice of font, style, format, [language?]. The Knight Ridder video also predicted color, and even animation.

     Paper, however, is easier to read, our speaker acknowledged. To achieve paper-like quality, the display surface must reflect 80% of luminance, have a contrast of 20:1 for document quality (7:1 for newsprint), and reproduce 200-300 dots per inch [the acuity of medium-priced (not dot matrix!) computer printers, the best of which achieve 600 dpi]. Pages must “turn” in less then one second. And to be economical-ly practical, the whole viewing system must be available for less than $400, Bill declared, which compresses the requisite cost of the display itself to less than $100.

     Prototypes using reflective, not light-emitting, technology have been built by Doane’s company, Kent Displays, with 100 dpi capability utilizing a liquid crystal layer containing helically twisted pixels whose texture — reflectivity vs. trans-missivity — can be switched (from planar to focal conic) with electrical signals having incremental voltage surges of about 40 volts. (Displays having a reflectivity half that of paper are marketable, Bill said.) These systems have built-in memory, requiring no power to retain the image. They are presently capable of switching 5000 lines per second to turn pages at the rate of about three pages per second. But 50,000 lps (switching in 50 microseconds) would be required to do video.

     These displays are sandwiches seven to eight layers thick, with the “bread” made of glass (or, more recently, bendable plastic, but the polymer requires a barrier layer to keep out water, etc.), and liquid crystal “meat.” This layer is covered by intersecting conductive grids of ITO (indium tin oxide), insulated from each other by a layer of (transparent) SiO2. The ITO “wires,” produced by photolithography, may be covered with with a thin layer of gold to improve their conductivity. The 100-micron pixels have microscopic “walls” of polymer as borders. Layers are 5 microns thick, which avoids interference by omnipresent dust particles, most of which are less than 4 microns in size.

     Our newest member has already paid his intellectual dues with a fascinating look into a burgeoning technology in which he is a recognized pioneer.

     AND NOW, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE NEW YEAR, THE MONTHLY ENTREATY: PLEASE don’t forget to call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) by Thursday afternoon, January 23rd. And please don't forget to cancel if you must. The Club gets charged for no-shows.

     As usual, we will meet at Tangier (532 West Market) at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. See you there.

Jack Gieck