0260: "The Glass Necklace"

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I'm so going to make the glass necklace

Postby Annirak » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:09 pm UTC

voodooKobra wrote:Anyone else feel compelled to try this?

The moment I read this comic, I realised I had to do this.

CatProximity wrote:I'm just wondering what material the tube must be made out of that the glass doesn't melt to/fuse with it.


The issue is more the width of the container and the focus of the arc. The arc can be focused at the ends by putting electrodes that extend inwards from the caps. In the middle it's more difficult. The path the arc takes will be largely determined by the composition of the sand and where it's wet.

Cyberax wrote:Additionally, I wouldn't use glass bottle - it'll most probably break from violently expanding air inside the sand.

I'd use wet sand inside a tube made from metallic mesh (you can wrap sand in paper to prevent its spilling out.

I'd also use a metallic core rod running through the center of the tube. It'll serve as a 'guide' for the discharge, so it won't jump around the tube.


I'm not sure there would be a violent expansion in dry sand. With dry sand, you can be pretty sure that all there is to be vaporized in there is sand. Which probably won't vaporize. All that being said, I think I'd drill some holes in the top side to prevent vaporization.

I'd avoid using metalic mesh, as it will conduct the bulk of the arc away from where you want it to be. The metal core will also cause you trouble for similar reasons.

To prevent the breakage issue, the best option is to keep the capsule low on the string.

As a method of encouraging the lightning strike, wrapping the balloon tether in fine copper wire seems like a good idea.

Small weather balloons are available from various online stores starting at ~$10 for a 30gm balloon. I'm unclear on whether 30 gm is the lift weight or the balloon weight. I've got a friend in climatology who I'm hoping to convince to help me actually do this.

I'm thinking a pvc pipe with a couple of screw caps and two holes drilled in it with eye-bolts mounted through them. Put cap nuts on the inside of the eye bolts to make sure the ends are smooth.

Pretty simple. Now all I need is enough lift capacity or a mountainous region during a thunderstorm.
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Postby Annirak » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:14 pm UTC

WhiteRabbit wrote:We used a piece of PVC pipe, about a foot long and six inches in diameter with a metal rod sticking out of each end about six inches, but only going and inch or two inside. There was no connection between them other than the material we were testing. The vessels were buried, with one end attached to a lightning rod and the other to a grounding spike.


Based on this, I'd say that my best bet is to make the balloon tether into the actual fusing capsule.
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Postby WhiteRabbit » Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:49 pm UTC

Indeed.
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Re: I'm so going to make the glass necklace

Postby warhorse » Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:52 pm UTC

Annirak wrote:Pretty simple. Now all I need is enough lift capacity or a mountainous region during a thunderstorm.


Instead of a kite, you might be able to do this with a model rocket or, heck, climb a tree on a nice day and stick a lightning rod to the top with the sand in a tube at the top and wait.
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Postby Annirak » Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:22 pm UTC

Quite right. The most important thing is getting to be the path of least resistance. How that's achieved is of little importance. But it's fun to try and stay true to the original comic.
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Postby dragonarcher8812 » Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:30 am UTC

...Ok, reading the technical discussion in this thread is almost as wonderfully heart warming (pun intended) as the original comic. Seriously, I love xkcd people.

Also, the gift ideas listed here (SET game, crystal, etc.) are great. I'm pretty lame in comparison. My best was buying my drummer (then) boyfriend a ride cymbal.

And as for the necklace... I think I would cry for about 10 minutes upon receiving a necklace made this way. It would be good happy crying followed by much *ahem* cuddling, no doubt.

Randall Munroe! You're creating all of these good ways to steal my heart! (And maybe setting the bar too high for any non nerd.)
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Postby missingglassmarbles » Wed Jun 27, 2007 4:54 am UTC

Bah! If the bar too high for non-nerds, then so be it! Who else would be worthy of XKCDers?

Now to find us some guys who will lovingly make us glass necklaces in the most roundabout, difficult, nerdy, romantic way as possible.
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Postby RocketRick » Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:35 am UTC

Brucmack wrote:
EradicateIV wrote:Why don't we take the energy from lightning and store it somewhere.

Unless we already do this? (I have no idea?)


The problem is that, although it contains an insane amount of energy, a bolt of lightning exists for a very short period of time. So the challenge would be to create some kind of energy storage mechanism that can charge instantaneously and then gradually release the energy. Unfortunately, we don't have batteries that can do this yet :)


Yes we do. We call them "clouds".
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Postby dragonarcher8812 » Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:45 am UTC

missingglassmarbles wrote:Bah! If the bar too high for non-nerds, then so be it! Who else would be worthy of XKCDers?

Now to find us some guys who will lovingly make us glass necklaces in the most roundabout, difficult, nerdy, romantic way as possible.



Um, read the last 4 pages of the thread. They're all here! The real trick is convincing one of them date us... but not at the same time. That would require quite a bit of luck and lightening. :P

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Postby Toeofdoom » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:09 pm UTC

I think the places I see hit by lightning most often are like, radio towers and stuff...

YOu'd obviously need these to be in the same area as a lighting strike, but to be set up beforehand right? Now if I recall, there are many bus shelters with metal roofs but wooden frams and stuff, so if we found them in less populated areas, they might get hit fairly easily. Could even make them. And then attach the sand holding apparatus to the roof and to the ground. Set them up on any places like this you can find, pretty much anywhere, and each one has its own radio transmitter which is triggered when hit by lighting, which is recieved by some gadget connected to your computer or something, which record the signal, and then once one is hit, it will tell your computer where it is, and you can go collect it.


some of this may have already been said I suppose... but yeah, this helps eliminate the need for balloons, and these would remain there for a long time unless stolen until they get hit, so you could leave them there until they do... and more chances is better of course...

oh well, whatever. I may try it someday...
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Postby genewitch » Sat Jun 30, 2007 3:11 pm UTC

Brucmack wrote:
EradicateIV wrote:Why don't we take the energy from lightning and store it somewhere.

Unless we already do this? (I have no idea?)


The problem is that, although it contains an insane amount of energy, a bolt of lightning exists for a very short period of time. So the challenge would be to create some kind of energy storage mechanism that can charge instantaneously and then gradually release the energy. Unfortunately, we don't have batteries that can do this yet :)


i beg to differ. I can think of a few ways of doing it. The problem with lightning is sure, it's a lot of electricity... but it's high voltage, low amperage electricity. you can't guarantee a lightning strike, either. much better to make wave energy capturing devices (youtube has one that is so awesomely adorable ... it had a bike wheel, they threw it off a pier and it powered some lights on the pier. it was 5 foot high and looked like a.. i dunno, a skinny grandfather clock.), more efficeint wind and solar capturing doodads and the like.
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Postby genewitch » Sat Jun 30, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

oh snap... anyone else here geocache? The guy/gal with the lab up on the mountain gave me an idea - also the poster who was talking about computers locating the strikes. sandglass geocaches. set up a lightning rod somewhere remote/hidden, put a real cache nearby (these are called multicaches) with a warning and directions to the lightning rod and instructions on how to reset it. :-)

Geocaching works on honesty and such... this would be somethin awesome to do. i think i will wait for some more input (and pictures) and then make one of these at my place in louisiana... it has thunderstorms A LOT.

PS the warning would be "DO NOT GO TO THE OTHER CACHE DURING A STORM" of course.

PS - RocketRick... you made me laugh so loudly i woke up three people. :-D
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Postby LE4dGOLEM » Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:22 pm UTC

genewitch wrote: set up a lightning rod somewhere remote/hidden

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Postby Annirak » Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:15 pm UTC

genewitch wrote:but it's high voltage, low amperage electricity.

Say WHAT?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning#Properties_of_Lightning wrote:An average bolt of negative lightning carries an electric current of 40 kA (kiloamperes), although some bolts can be up to 120 kA, and transfers a charge of 5 coulombs and 500 MJ (megajoules), or enough energy to power a 100 watt lightbulb for just under two months. The voltage depends on the length of the bolt: with the dielectric breakdown of air being 3 million volts per meter, this works out at about one billion volts for a 300m (1,000 feet) lightning bolt.


Also, did you know how power is delivered on the grid? It's run at 250kV at maybe 600A. That's right, high voltage, and (relatively) low current.
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Postby roz360 » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:38 pm UTC

Hey,

People actually trigger lightning to study it using a model rocket and some magnet wire (really thin-gauge wire). Check out the Pop-Sci article:

http://www.popsci.com/popsci/technology ... crd/4.html

I was thinking about making one of these as well and figured it would be easier to have the bucket of sand restng on the ground.

Of course the cardboard rocket would have to be launched by remote... in the rain... without dying...

I love a challenge :D
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0260: "The Glass Necklace"

Postby zonk » Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:59 am UTC

Image
alt text: Well, for some value of 'actually work'.

http://xkcd.com/260/

is this actual possible? if so then i want to try it, anyone tried it?
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Re: The Glass Necklace

Postby Super Happy Cow » Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:07 am UTC

I tried once, but the lightning killed me instantly. I think I did it wrong.
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Re: The Glass Necklace

Postby zonk » Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:28 am UTC

i guess you have to step away from the line
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Re: The Glass Necklace

Postby McHell » Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:25 am UTC

Replacing the "lightning" steps with "putting in fiery furnace", there is no reason it shouldn't work. Also no reason why it would have a beautiful result, you need some care not to get stuff in the sand that will leave it messy (like soot, from the fire itself).

Note: I hope no xkcd reader tried this in California lately, though it would explain a lot. What a disaster.
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Re:

Postby TheKhakinator » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:21 am UTC

Woxor wrote:
John DeSavage wrote:Not to be pedantic*, but the only onomatopoeias above are rumble, boom, and crack.

*Ok... to be totally pedantic.

You mean you don't hear an ambient sort of "GIVE" sound when you give something?

Yeah, like the shuffle sound of you handing it to them and them grabbing it sounds like "give"!

Sadly I don't get this. I just get words flashing up in my peripheral vision whenever I do something that makes a sound.

grim4593 wrote:
Dark Ragnarok wrote:I think to many people entirely go out and pick whatever's nice with not too much second thought. Like a gift that's good enough, rather than going out of your way to get something totally thoughtful.

Thoughtful items are usually useless.
Useful items are usually thoughtless.

For me anyway, I find it hard to get to the balance. Its hard to get something thoughtful. And even if I do find a thoughtful gift, the receiver might just look past that and not even realize the significance or the thought in it. :/

See I think about what could be useful to someone! I like receiving useful gifts most of all. I think "what does this person need, or what would be useful to them?".
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby zonk » Thu Oct 25, 2007 11:32 am UTC

i will do this, it will be my mission in life, some day, somehow and somewhere, i will do this
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Jenny: I say its worth a shot.
Chowder: Yes I agree. Let's do it.
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Re: The Glass Necklace

Postby Belial » Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:40 pm UTC

I'm not even going to merge this. Please use the search function, if the comic has existed for more than twenty minutes, there's already a thread for it.
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Re: Re:

Postby muteKi » Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:54 pm UTC

TheKhakinator wrote:
grim4593 wrote:
Dark Ragnarok wrote:I think to many people entirely go out and pick whatever's nice with not too much second thought. Like a gift that's good enough, rather than going out of your way to get something totally thoughtful.

Thoughtful items are usually useless.
Useful items are usually thoughtless.

For me anyway, I find it hard to get to the balance. Its hard to get something thoughtful. And even if I do find a thoughtful gift, the receiver might just look past that and not even realize the significance or the thought in it. :/

See I think about what could be useful to someone! I like receiving useful gifts most of all. I think "what does this person need, or what would be useful to them?".


Protip: Deodorant, breath mints, and gray-hair formula may be useful, but...
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby scowdich » Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:37 pm UTC

It's also not considered nice to give a box of prophylactics as a wedding present. I've no idea why.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby MotorToad » Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:07 pm UTC

Hrm... I think I need to try this. Escambia Bay is about 0.4 mile from my house, but the sand there is brown and icky, not fluffy white like the Gulf. But, the bay is almost entirely isolated. I could try bay sand, gulf sand, and mixed to see how they come out. :)

I don't think encapsulating the end product is as easy as it seems. I'm thinking more along the lines of a balloon on a metal or metal-embedded string tied to the bottom of a bucket of sand. Anyone know of a super-light conductive string? it doesn't need to carry current, just transmit the charge path as is seeps up from the ground.

Come on, thunderstorms!
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby TheKhakinator » Fri Oct 26, 2007 6:30 am UTC

Lightning is lightning. It's like... lightning. Lightning strikes trees and other tall shit, and we know trees aren't made of metal to a high certainty. It helps if the string is wet or otherwise very conductive but it's not all that vital.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby MotorToad » Fri Oct 26, 2007 4:12 pm UTC

TheKhakinator wrote:Lightning is lightning. It's like... lightning. Lightning strikes trees and other tall shit, and we know trees aren't made of metal to a high certainty. It helps if the string is wet or otherwise very conductive but it's not all that vital.

It's very helpful if the string is conductive. Lightning doesn't strike randomly, it strikes where a "leader" charge has already made a path for ionization of the air.
Image

This shows it better than anything I've seen before.
Image
You can see the "feeler" which looks like lightning... until the actual flash and the screen goes completely white.

While it's far from a guarantee, any amount you can bring the charge path closer to the clouds is going to help. I certainly wouldn't expect a metal-impregnated string to carry lightning current, but I would expect it to be the best way to carry a charge path.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby TheKhakinator » Sat Oct 27, 2007 10:19 am UTC

MotorToad wrote:
TheKhakinator wrote:Lightning is lightning. It's like... lightning. Lightning strikes trees and other tall shit, and we know trees aren't made of metal to a high certainty. It helps if the string is wet or otherwise very conductive but it's not all that vital.

It's very helpful if the string is conductive. Lightning doesn't strike randomly, it strikes where a "leader" charge has already made a path for ionization of the air.
Image

This shows it better than anything I've seen before.
Image
You can see the "feeler" which looks like lightning... until the actual flash and the screen goes completely white.

While it's far from a guarantee, any amount you can bring the charge path closer to the clouds is going to help. I certainly wouldn't expect a metal-impregnated string to carry lightning current, but I would expect it to be the best way to carry a charge path.

Yeah. I think in the event of a lightning storm if your kite is high enough it will likely be struck (assuming the kite is actually in the storm) no matter the string (Unless you chose "Lightning-proof string"). The problem I see is how you will find the container with the sand/glass to recover. I suggest putting the container on part of the string close to the ground - will still get the current flow, but it won't have the problem of falling from halfway up the kite's string and then either smashing and scattering its contents or falling somewhere far away from where the base of the kite is and thus would be hard to find.

I say this about keeping the container close to the ground cause I think a lightning strike has a high chance of destroying the string.

I think the container needs some thought though. I'd copy the comic on this one - metal plates at either end with sand in the middle. I'd also suggest packing it tight so the lightning has less chance of jumping through the air in the container rather then the sand.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby xyzzy » Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:16 pm UTC

I would raise it on a balloon, and use metal wire from the top of the balloon, down the string, into one end, and then a separate piece out of the other and down to earth.

That should work.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby nexterday » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:26 pm UTC

So a bit delayed, but a friend of mine and I tried this a while back (after the comic). We bought 500 feet of very thin wire (I forget what gauge) on a spool, and several large helium balloons. That night, there was a very large storm, and we planed to go to my friend's lakehouse. His mother was very against us even driving in the weather...imagine what she would have said if we told her when we got there, we planned to release 10 large helium balloons with 500 foot of wire over the lake.

Anyways, after rushing through preparations, we tied the wire, and fishing line both to the balloons. Then, brilliantly forgot that the wire isn't very strongly secured to the spool. (we did secure the spool to a coke can with sand in it, and buried that in the ground)

on top of that, when i cut the weight off, i accidentally cut the fishing line. the balloons rose very fast, and the spool was as loud as a truck winch, and 30 seconds later, a snap, and the wire was used up, and off the spool.

The balloons, with 500 feet of wire dangling down traveled across the entire lake, and we lost sight of it about 5 minutes later. We believe it got tangled in some trees, as it started to descend rapidly after reaching the other side.

while we never saw any lightning strike it, we both agreed this was the most dangerous thing we had ever made, but I feel this isn't the last time we attempt to do this.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby M.qrius » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:34 am UTC

Nice to hear someone actually try it. Maybe you can just tie one of the things permanently to the lake house's lightning conductor, with the fuse between the wire and the lightning conductor. The helium would probably migrate out of the balloons after a while though...

I wish there were more storms in the Netherlands, so I'd have more chance to try this out. Maybe I should do it anyway...
*googles for weather baloons

Edit: This one seems nice-ish, kind of huge, but I'd have to get helium or something from somewhere. I do live at a university, they should have some, but I doubt I can easily get that. Hmmm...

More practical data. How much would it be able to lift?
Thissite claims 7 feet diameter can lift over 7 pounds (that's 2 meter and 3 kg for the more standardized people here). It should be possible to calculate it as well, given the pressure inside the balloon, and the height at which it will fly.

How much would the endeavor cost?
A weather balloon can be found on ebay for under 30 euros with the low dollar price and all.
Let's say the balloon will be 3 meters in diameter. That means 113 cubic meter of helium, slightly compressed. Not sure how compressed. This site says it was about 37,50 dollar per 1000 cubic feet in 1986, or 90 euro for our 100 cubic meter of helium.
Wire is a bit more difficult. At first you'd say copper wire, but anything metal will do, and the copper price is quite high. The thickness is difficult as well. You don't want it too thick, but not too thin either or it will break...

Looking at these prices, maybe it's a better idea to go for a smaller, less permanent solution after all...

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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby nexterday » Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:18 am UTC

we didn't use weather balloons, just balloons you might give someone on their birthday. they were large for balloons, about $1 USD, maybe 75cm in diameter. we got them at a flower store, and 3 or 4 were sufficient to lift the spool of wire (plastic core), so we got a few more so it would lift the fishing line (which turned out to not be necessary...heh).

I'm curious as to how you release the wire if you attach it to something like a rocket. I suppose you could use a thicker wire there, but still, if it got caught on the way up, there might be rockets in directions not accounted for.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby M.qrius » Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:59 am UTC

nexterday wrote:we didn't use weather balloons, just balloons you might give someone on their birthday. they were large for balloons, about $1 USD, maybe 75cm in diameter. we got them at a flower store, and 3 or 4 were sufficient to lift the spool of wire (plastic core), so we got a few more so it would lift the fishing line (which turned out to not be necessary...heh).

I'm curious as to how you release the wire if you attach it to something like a rocket. I suppose you could use a thicker wire there, but still, if it got caught on the way up, there might be rockets in directions not accounted for.

I'd think they use those short burst rockets, which just burst for a few seconds, reach altitudes of a few hundred meters (if lucky), and then come back down.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby Chef Brian » Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:45 am UTC

I'm planning to have one made by mid-june. Hopefully I won't convince myself otherwise. Will supply pics if/when I get it finished.
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby 385 » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:11 am UTC

Man, I may not be scientifically equipped for this board. I'm reading some of you guys' theories on the more technical areas and I'm just like :?:

Also, is it normal that I seem to be ending up with about 5 tabs per thread building up in my browser?
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby PhysicsDan » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:22 pm UTC

I was actually involved with the original project that did that when I worked at the science museum in Tampa (MOSI). A scientist and an "artist" made a fulgurite, basically as depicted (they used rockets instead of a balloon).

http://home.att.net/~amcnet2/album/theevent3.html
http://home.att.net/~amcnet2/album/theevent8.html
http://www.ira.usf.edu/CAM/exhibitions/ ... ollum.html (cool photos at the bottom)

I'm not mentioned by name, but I was one of the folks who did an associated "theatrical presentation" about the whole thing. Our inaugural show, the "artist" wasn't there by showtime, so he was locked out. We zapped the scientist, Martin Ulman, with a Leyden jar charged from a Van De Graff generator.

Some days, I really miss that job.
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Re:

Postby WhiteDragon » Tue Feb 12, 2008 5:57 pm UTC

Arancaytar wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:xkcd Fulgurite necklace merchandise please.


Too lazy to wait for a thunderstorm? :lol:


then check out http://www.lod.org
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Re: "The Glass Necklace" Discussion

Postby Mr. Beck » Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:01 pm UTC

This comic has inspired me to do something great. (I'm in High School, btw)
There is a girl that I like. I read this comic, and was like "wow! That's got to be one of the most romantic things I have ever seen!" I sent her a copy for valentine's day (she loved it) , and, through subsequent e-mails, determined that there was at least a little interest from her. I was thinking that I could not realistically replicate this comic in a few days, but I did want to do something for her in the spirit of The Glass Necklace. Finally I hit upon the idea of making her some origami earrings. I cut two pieces of very nice blue pattered origami paper into 9 pieces, and then proceeded to fold them into two cubes, like http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/origami/sonobe.html. The final cubes were about a 1.5 centimeters across. I hung them from the corners using silver headpins hooked to ear wires, and finally sprayed them with a fixative. The final product was beautiful. (sorry, no pics.) First time I ever made any type of jewelry.
I gave them to her the Tuesday after Valentine's day. It was like a 55-gallon barrel of win.
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Postby Lukeonia1 » Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:44 am UTC

Hey there every peoples! I only discovered xkcd a couple months ago, and this comic in particular drove me to register. I've been wanting to make a fulgarite for years, long before I ever saw this. I even had a rudimentary design thought up.

WhiteRabbit wrote:Fulgurites were produced from a variety of materials, but high Si sand worked the best. We used a piece of PVC pipe, about a foot long and six inches in diameter with a metal rod sticking out of each end about six inches, but only going and inch or two inside. There was no connection between them other than the material we were testing. The vessels were buried, with one end attached to a lightning rod and the other to a grounding spike. The PVC would often crack and melt a bit near the metal rods, but otherwise came through just fine.


And THIS is the EXACT design I came up with! A 6" PVC pipe full of sand with electrodes at each end, mounted on the ground, connected to a grounding rod on the bottom, and with a couple mylar helium balloons tethered with one or two hundred feet of fine copper wire forming the lightning rod. I'm in North Dakota so we get thunderstorms all the time, so I'm definitely gonna try it out this summer. I'll be sure to post my results in this thread, and I'll prolly start a new one to document my science-ings. Image

WhiteRabbit wrote:The biggest fulgurites aren't produced by lightning, but by cut transmission lines near a power plant.

I saw photos of the aftermath of just such an accident. Where the lines arced into the ground there was a puddle of lava about three feet across that took days to cool completely.
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Re:

Postby gormster » Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:07 am UTC

Brucmack wrote:
EradicateIV wrote:Why don't we take the energy from lightning and store it somewhere.

Unless we already do this? (I have no idea?)


The problem is that, although it contains an insane amount of energy, a bolt of lightning exists for a very short period of time. So the challenge would be to create some kind of energy storage mechanism that can charge instantaneously and then gradually release the energy. Unfortunately, we don't have batteries that can do this yet :)


We have capacitors that can do that. Well, you'd still need a lot of them, but theoretically, we have capacitors that can do that.
Eddie Izzard wrote:And poetry! Poetry is a lot like music, only less notes and more words.
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