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Wina
2008-Dec-26, 06:12 AM
Hio!
Been a long time since my last post but I'll try to fit the syntax here:

I'm a published Author of sci-fi that borders on fantasy and I'm coming up on my third novel (the first is already published, the second on its way) and of course; this means that I need to finally EXPLAIN all of the science behind the first two novels.

This gave rise to a really weird question about nuclear physics and all kinds of horrible sub-atomic obscurity. SO... the question is thus...

I need to figure out how to have a chemical reaction (between ions alone, one reaction needs to be entirely negative ions, the other entirely positive ions) wherein mid-reaction a third (completely unexpected) variable interacts with the first two reactants to produce a nuclear explosion and an innocuous chemical which does not include the entire sum of the original reactants.

To put it in bad algebraic terms: A + B (interrupted by C) --> D + a nuclear explosion

(sort of like cold FISSION, not FUSION)

To complicate matters, all of the chemicals (both the reactants AND the products aside from the explosion of course) need to be totally innoccuous to human life. The explosion I've already explained away in the literature.

Now I don't need a giant list of chemical equations since I can't really put that into the story and make it come out sounding like anything other than a College paper. But at the same time, I do need to figure out what an at least feasibly bad explanation would be so that I can dumb it down into readable text which flows with the story. Basically I have a super-genius explaining this phenominon to a bunch of adults who don't even understand the chemical composition of water.

Anyway, I wish everyone a merry Christmas and if, by chance, you wish to do some research on my novel, please feel free to search around for it. The title is "The Legacy of Power, book 1: Rebellion" by Zachary Wolff and is available via Amazon.com, Borders.com, Publishamerica.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and a host of various smaller independent companies.

Be Safe and don't feel bad about coming straight out and telling me this entire idea is absolutely preposterous and I'm an idiot for trying to think it up because I'm already smacking my own forehead for starting myself on it years ago haha.

-Wina

Jens
2008-Dec-26, 06:43 AM
It's a bit difficult, since anthing that is fissionable has to be radioactive and hence dangerous to humans AFAIK.

Well, there is one thing, the notorious blagosystothermic reaction discovered by Von Wankel in 1912. Gold and oxygen don't usually react, but the addition of argon can in some circumstances deciphrocate the mixture, shifting the electron shells, and you get a fission reaction, plus water. It's lucky it's never happened (yet).

trinitree88
2008-Dec-26, 03:25 PM
It's a bit difficult, since anthing that is fissionable has to be radioactive and hence dangerous to humans AFAIK.

Well, there is one thing, the notorious blagosystothermic reaction discovered by Von Wankel in 1912. Gold and oxygen don't usually react, but the addition of argon can in some circumstances deciphrocate the mixture, shifting the electron shells, and you get a fission reaction, plus water. It's lucky it's never happened (yet).


Jens. ?..happens in the Wankel engine all the time, doesn't it?...:shifty: :doh::lol: pete

mugaliens
2008-Dec-26, 05:18 PM
You're making that up, Jens... :)

While all actinoids are radioactive, not all fissionable materials are radioactive, and not all radioactive materials are fissionable.

Technically, "fissionable" means it can undergo nuclear fission, whereas "fissile" means that it's fissionable by neutrons with low kinetic energy. Thus, U-238 is fissionable, but not fissile, whereas U-235 is fissile. This is why all modern fusion weapons are fission-fusion-fission. Plutonium fission causes deuterium-tritium fusion which releases fast neutrons of 14.1 MeV, which induce fission in U-238. Similarly, fast fission of U-238 in fast neutron reactors is a major contribution to nuclear energy.

In general, most actinide isotopes with an odd number of neutrons are fissile. Thus, if you want something to go BOOM, Wina, you're probably going to have to stick to U-235, P-239, P-241, and U-233. The first occurs naturally, but the last three are bred from U-238, P-240, and T-232 (respectively) by neutron capture.

If I were you, I'd cook up an excuse to have one of these four materials incorporated in a diamond anvil, and unbeknownst to an experimentor, the incredible pressure was just right to force a rapid release of neutrons, which caused the material to undergo fission.

I just can't think of any reason why you'd use something like U-233 in a diamond anvil. Perhaps thorium, used as an alloy in magnesium, in aicraft engines, imparting high strength and creep resistance at elevated temperatures. Someone mixed the wrong thorium into the batch...

I dunno.

DrRocket
2008-Dec-26, 10:39 PM
Hio!
Been a long time since my last post but I'll try to fit the syntax here:

I'm a published Author of sci-fi that borders on fantasy and I'm coming up on my third novel (the first is already published, the second on its way) and of course; this means that I need to finally EXPLAIN all of the science behind the first two novels.

This gave rise to a really weird question about nuclear physics and all kinds of horrible sub-atomic obscurity. SO... the question is thus...

I need to figure out how to have a chemical reaction (between ions alone, one reaction needs to be entirely negative ions, the other entirely positive ions) wherein mid-reaction a third (completely unexpected) variable interacts with the first two reactants to produce a nuclear explosion and an innocuous chemical which does not include the entire sum of the original reactants.

To put it in bad algebraic terms: A + B (interrupted by C) --> D + a nuclear explosion

(sort of like cold FISSION, not FUSION)

To complicate matters, all of the chemicals (both the reactants AND the products aside from the explosion of course) need to be totally innoccuous to human life. The explosion I've already explained away in the literature.

Now I don't need a giant list of chemical equations since I can't really put that into the story and make it come out sounding like anything other than a College paper. But at the same time, I do need to figure out what an at least feasibly bad explanation would be so that I can dumb it down into readable text which flows with the story. Basically I have a super-genius explaining this phenominon to a bunch of adults who don't even understand the chemical composition of water.

Anyway, I wish everyone a merry Christmas and if, by chance, you wish to do some research on my novel, please feel free to search around for it. The title is "The Legacy of Power, book 1: Rebellion" by Zachary Wolff and is available via Amazon.com, Borders.com, Publishamerica.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and a host of various smaller independent companies.

Be Safe and don't feel bad about coming straight out and telling me this entire idea is absolutely preposterous and I'm an idiot for trying to think it up because I'm already smacking my own forehead for starting myself on it years ago haha.

-Wina

Your basic problem is that you are trying to force a chemical reaction, therefore a phenomena that depends on the electromagnetic force, to chause a nuclear explosion, a phenomena involving the strong force. So your driving mechanicsm of forces among ions is basically irrelevant.

Suppose that somehow your ions were antimatter ? Say electrons and positrons or protons and anti-protons. Then you would get a tremendous explosion when they came together. If you had somehow managed to store the antimatter, say in some sort of magnetic confinement, it would innocuous to ordinary life (but if it came into direct contact with that life you would have the explosion).

Maybe what happens is that you have this antimatter comfortably contained in a magetic bottle, when some iron momentarily disrupts the magnetic field and some anti-matter excapes. You might even have ordinary matter in the form of positive ions, say protons, on one side of partitioned bottle and anti-matter, say anti-protons, on the other side. I have no idea how you made this partitioned magnetic bottle, other than by using your pen. But you do have the pen.

This is pushing technology a bit, and you have to suspend skepticism, but since this is fiction and the story already exists we are a bit past that point anyway.

Wina
2008-Dec-27, 06:33 AM
Well unforunately, as I believe I said in the first post, I wrote this god-awful thing when I was fifteen and didn't bother to think about the physics behind it until now (6 years later). But actually, I'd never considered an anti-matter reaction which sort of seems like an "AHAH!" right there.
And what's even better is that you mention a form of containment (which is a duh since Anti-matter can't react safely with matter) which is already explained from day one. The reaction in the novels is facilitated by an ore which is extra-terrestrial in nature which accidentally fell into the hands of humanity and was refined into a gem-like material.
Supposedly this gem-like material has an atomic structure which makes it basically a completely new element which practically re-defines the periodic table. (unfortunately I didn't go out of my way to figure out its structure however interesting that might have been, but I don't know enough to do that with any accuracy. On top of which, it doesn't seem practical.)
But now that I think about it (especially in the case of a less advanced human society) the existence of anti-matter kind of does re-arrange the periodic table a little bit...

As another thought, which comes to mind on the same subject with a tangent-like twist, is it possible for the human body to perhaps absorb and use a portion of the energy from a reaction like this? In the end, that's pretty much the defining feature of the story and the reason I'm in dire need of help haha.
I've already made it clear within the novels that the reaction which produces this effect is terribly innefficient and that a VAST number of the potential energy which is created is entirely lost in the process,. But the driving point of the story relies on the human ability to put some of that energy to work.

Wina
2008-Dec-27, 06:35 AM
It just occurred to me that in some ways I may be making the terrible mistake of reinventing Gene Roddenberry's "warp core" within the human body..... god help me

(just felt the need to point out the observation)

cjameshuff
2008-Dec-28, 05:48 AM
A few things...about half the energy released in antimatter annihilations would indeed be lost, as neutrinos. However, you don't necessarily need to get all your energy from antimatter annihilation, you could use that annihilation to induce fission (through destabilizing nuclei by annihilating protons in them) or fusion (by good old lots-of-heat-and-pressure). There's your inefficiency and your way of getting more bang for your buck.

And finally, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that antimatter could be passively caged in molecular structures made of normal matter. The antimatter could be released by relatively low amounts of heat or pressure, or by chemical reactions that breach the cages. Antimatter doesn't rearrange the periodic table, it just makes a mirror image table, but such combinations would certainly add a new chapter or two to chemistry textbooks.

This idea has appeared before in sci-fi...typically as antimatter caged in buckyballs, or at least once in ice clathrates:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Ice

Wina
2008-Dec-28, 06:18 AM
To refine your point Cjames..
Does it make sense that controlled bursts of electro-chemical energy (such as Neurological activity) would be sufficient to activate anti-matter reactions in this way?

And damn Wiki-pedia's annoying sometimes! Perfectly wonderful generalizations without any real description whatsoever. But thank you for the literary recommendation, I'll be looking forward to reading that one :).

Durakken
2008-Dec-28, 10:11 AM
A nuclear explosion is caused by the splitting of atoms, more specifically, IIRC, when a neutron is separated from the nucleus. or when they are combined

If you were to say that you have an ultra heavy element that you can just make up as the negative ion and then have say helium or hydrogen be the positive. And then you say that the negative has such a strong negative force that it pulls the positive at a high velocity that it separates the helium/hydrogen atom nucleus up...

This creates a free nucleus which you could then say makes the first particle to quantumly appear it fuses with and causes yet another reaction that causes a chain reaction with the previous material created causing even larger explosions which creates this 4th material


Not exactly what you are looking for but you or someone more knowledgable should be able to expand on this idea.

sirius0
2008-Dec-28, 01:20 PM
Perhaps the alien element, out of caution, had been stored within magnetic "bucky balls" this was to "quantum Quaranteen" the element so that no component could "tunnel" out and cause unknown effects on Earth. Unknown at first was that the samples had been exposed to intense cosmic ray leakage from a concentrator that had an unfilled bolt hole. This caused the samples to become anti-matter however the buckyballs had been ingested by the victim.........

Jens
2008-Dec-29, 06:59 AM
You're making that up, Jens... :)



Yes, I confess. But really, the point I wanted to make is that SF doesn't have to follow what we know of physics. Harry Potter can levitate things and make himself invisible with a cloak, but who cares? It's fiction. If I were an SF writer, I'd just make up words that seemed to make sense.

astromark
2008-Dec-29, 10:14 AM
To Carry forward 'Jens' idea; When Gen Roddenberry used the transporter or the warp drive or dilithium cristals...Photon torpedos...etc., it mattered not a jot that none of it could or would ever be more than fiction... why do you feel the need to make the impossible any thing other than what it is...? Fiction.

Durakken
2008-Dec-29, 02:55 PM
While it is true that ST technology didn't care whether their ideas were possible or not it is also true that when they went to explain most of their technology they did a reasonable amount of science research.

The problem is that Wina is going in reverse to what is normal which is apply science to fake science...not fake science to science.

Wina
2008-Dec-30, 06:17 AM
Durakken just whacked it on the head haha. I made a huge mistake in not mapping out the possible from the impossible (or at least unexplainable within reason) before I started out. Issue there was that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to do Sci-Fi or fantasy at first...

Anyway... with a much greater idea of how many plausible (although relatively unrealistic in all facets) explanations I could run with... I'm relatively confident now that I can figure out a decent way to go with it and get started up again.

To everyone who posted and stuck with the idea; you have my extreme gratitude :)

-Wina