Akron Phy sics Club

Archive 1998

January Decklan Keane - When Large Particles Collide  
February  Ron Haybron - Next in Space  
March  Leon Marker - The Mechanical Universe  
April  Gary Roberts - Development & testing of Containment Structures for Gas Turbine Engines
May  Don Schuele - Nickel-Aluminum Shape-Memory Alloys
September  Kailash Satyamurthy - Application of Finite Element Technologies to Industrial Problems
October  Bryon Anderson - The Solar Neutrino Problem
November  George W. Collins II - SS433: A Bizarre Binary Star System





Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, January 26, 1998 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Our first meeting of the new year will feature a visit by nuclear physicist Prof. Decklan Keane of the Physics Department of Kent State University. Dr. Keene’s topic will be:


Minutes, January 26, 1998

     At our first meeting of 1998 [which, divided by three, has diabolical implications!] were Vic Burke, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Bill Jenkins, Leon Marker, Darrell Reneker, Alan Gent, Dan Livingston, Darrell Reneker, Jack Strang, Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson.

     While Treasurer Galehouse was on his way back from his skiist duties, Charlie Wilson, having taken over Dan’s pecuniary responsibilities, reported (in less than Coopers and Lybrand detail) that our treasury was sufficient to pay for our meals of the evening. A discussion of future topics with Program Chairman Marker (who has been saving a video tape for contingencies) revealed the probable conflict we’ll have with the American Physical Society meeting in March. Subsequent discussion among members of what is said to be our Executive Committee resulted in a proposal that the March be held on the fifth Monday of the month, March 30, subject to the approval of the membership.

     Speaking on When Large Particles Collide (some, we would learn, at relativistic velocities), nuclear physicist Decklan Keane of the Physics Department of Kent State University began with a swift review of the history of particle collision technology, beginning with Rutherford’s bombardment with alpha particles. Dr. Keane showed us what excellent probes electrons make, exemplified by a series of carpet plots, at least one of which looked strikingly like Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower (albeit some-what smaller).

     From early work at Lawrence and Berkeley, we saw the pyrotechnics precipitated by uranium-uranium collisions, stunning streamers of particles involving tens of channels of hits — work accomplished, incidentally, by half a dozen collaborators. Our speaker showed us the tracks of ionized particles in a Time Projection Chamber — cones of particles spraying out from each collision. In this device, after a gas is ionized in an electric field, the left-over electrons descend to be sifted through a gating grid to an anode grid.

     We saw the results of nickel-copper and gold-gold collisions at much higher energies in a Bevatron, yielding an assortment of protons, pions, mesons and other nuclear fragments, presented in a 3-D array of some two million pixels — this work involving perhaps 40 collaborators — demonstrating that as bombardment energy increases (and they will quadruple in the next year), not only does the ratio of pions increase, but so does the number of physicists required to achieve requisite results — by orders of magnitude it turns out: some 300 physicists are currently working on the STAR detector.

     The work of Dr. Keane and his graduate students is heavily into designing software that trains the network to find and identify collision particles, producing high-resolution graphics in the process. He admits to an increasing level of frustration as one names new particles and senses the need for and constructs models to satisfy the need for them, even though they can’t be detected directly. The thrust of current state-of-the-art work, he explained, is to design equipment and software to identify and measure the energies of all of the particles resulting from a nuclear collision — resolving data from picosecond to picosecond.

     After intellectually bathing in our speaker’s field, however briefly and superficially, it is apparent that the amount of software to be developed to support the STAR detector, for example, boggles at least this engineer’s mind. Our speaker explained that it will involve a “farm” of several hundred Pentium processors. And it occurred to this member of his audience that a longer version of title might have been, When Large Particles Collide, a Large Number of Physicists Can Be Found Nearby.

     Before printing the usual boiler plate, your secretary wishes to express his Thanks! to the membership for the record call-ins of January reservations. It greatly simplified his life. Please keep up the good work: call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) or by e-mail (see below) by Thursday afternoon, February 20th, since I must call them in Friday morning. 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, February 23, 1998 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Our February meeting will feature a visit by Dr. Ron Haybron of the Physics Department of Cleveland State University, who has been a consultant to NASA for many years. Dr. Haybron’s topic will be:


Minutes, February 23, 1998

Before nostalgically drifting into the minutes of our last meeting, in compliance with our esteemed Bylaws, this notice constitutes an appeal for nominations for officers for the upcoming year.  You may submit these orally when you call in your reservation, or in writing (or by e-note) — anonymously if you wish (although that’s admittedly harder by e-mail). 

     Present for our March meeting were Vic Burke, Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Bob Hirst, Bill Jenkins, Dan Livingston, Leon Marker, Darrell Reneker, Darrell Reneker, Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson.

     This somewhat abbreviated group (Jack Strang was eclipsing in the Caribbean, Alan Gent and George Böhm (and Pad Pallai?) were out of the country, and Mark Dannis was ill; he’s better now), had the privilege of hearing Dr. Ron Haybron of the Cleveland State University Physics Department faculty for 29 years‚ Plain Dealer columnist since 1981, and a consultant to and certified fan of NASA (but by no means an uncritical one). Dr. Haybron’s topic, appropriately, was NEXT IN SPACE.

     Ron believes that NASA’s functions. are, and should be, spiritual as well as practical. The agency, he pointed out, offers very practical possibilities in mining (asteroids, even lunar deposits), new sources of energy, as well as exploring for exploration’s sake. Voyager 1, for example, after sailing 6.5 billion miles on our behalf is helping us to understand our own celestial heritage.

     1998-9 will feature the Second Global Survey. Plans for the early years of the new millennium include samples to be returned from Mars (we brought back 800 pounds of rock from the moon) and the very ambitious (and probably doubtful) goal of putting human beings on that planet by 2011. Particularly exciting is the “Origins” program, to include investigating planets that may orbit other stars, and especially the megariddle: how did life come to be? If we, indeed, find evidence of life elsewhere, our speaker observed, neither philosophy nor theology will ever be the same.

     Dr. Haybron’s own list of (mind-expanding) priorities for NASA include:

     1. Maintaining technical capability (a training ground for technical personnel)

     2. Providing a setting for large-scale international cooperative programs

     3. Planning/establishing off-earth bases, e.g. mining & manufacturing on the moon

     4. Building off-earth habitats — of various possible geometric shapes

     5. Huge solar power satellite arrays (perhaps 3 X 6 miles), beaming power to earth

     As to the last, Ron suggests that these could not be launched from earth because of the chemical pollution created by conventional rocketry. So why not from the moon — whose back side, incidentally, would be superb as a location for an astronomical observatory?

     So, with those heady thoughts for stimulus, once again, the standard reminder: Please call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) or by e-mail (see below) by Thursday afternoon, March 26th, since I must call them in Friday morning. 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, March 30, 1998 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Instead of an outside speaker, our March meeting will feature our own Program Chairman, Leon Marker, who will present a Nova program he recorded off the air:


with David Goldstein, friend of and successor to Richard Feynman.

Minutes, March 30, 1998

     Present for our unconventionally scheduled, APS-dislodged March meeting were Vic Burke, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Leon Marker, Jack Strang, Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson. This small but distinguished group had gathered for a program organized, appropriately enough, by Program Chairman Leon Marker, who presented three segments of a four-part PBS TV course, THE MECHANICAL UNIVERSE, by David Goodstein of Berkeley.

     But first, Treasurer Galehouse cheered us with the news that the club’s treasury actually remained somewhat in the black—not a rich, saturated black, of course, but black nonetheless. And as long as Charlie Wilson and your secretary had brought video gear to the assemblage, Jack Strang presented his VHS record of the total eclipse of the sun, shot on his Caribbean cruise. Jack’s offering was followed by one from the other Jack, a confessed filmmaker, who has had the temerity to add a sound track edited from modern NASA communications (underscored by an over-blown Reader’s Digest narrator) to Georges Mélies’ 1902 classic, A Trip to the Moon.

     Having noticed that Vic Burke was furiously taking notes during Leon’s video segments, your increasingly lazy secretary asked him if he would be kind enough to share them with the club. Edited down a bit, Vic’s minutes follow:

     NOT “edited down,” Vic’s minutes follow:

     Jack Strang provided photos and videos of the recent total eclipse of the sun, from the vantage point of the Caribbean. Views of the ship and of St. Thomas Island were quite striking.

     Can you visualize what a trip to the moon would be like way back in 1902? Would it include chorus girls and cranky moon creatures? Would you return to the earth by pushing your capsule over a moon cliff and "falling" back to earth? This classic short film was transferred to videotape and a sound track featuring modern NASA communications was added by our own cinematographer, Jack Gieck.

     Next month: Containment of Mach 3 jet engine parts. What happens when turbine blades let go? How can lives be protected and physical damage controlled? Polymers play a role.

     The main feature of this video-studded meeting was the four-part TV Course "Mechanical Universe", by David Goodstein of Berkley. Leon recorded the program about 10 years ago when they aired on PBS at 7 am. The Origins of Calculus, Newton and Gravity, Vectors, and Newton's Dynamical Laws were presented in an interesting way. It wasn't just Dr. Goodstein in a classroom lecturing to eager young students; those moments were brief. Rather, actors in period costumes and settings reenacted events. Clever animated cartoons helped to explain mathematical concepts. My favorite? The ancient Greek method of calculating the area of a circle by inscribed polygons. Two fireplug-sized Greeks in togas scurried back and forth bringing more and more smaller and smaller pieces to fit into the circle. "This is called", the voice over said as the little guys fell to the ground panting, "the method of exhaustion."

     Origins of Calculus

     Isaac Newton's eccentric behavior, his long and deep interest in alchemy and mysticism, his solitude, his reluctance to share his discoveries were contrasted with the other cofounder of calculus - Leibniz. Worldly, outgoing, a way with the ladies, ambassador, math prodigy - these were Leibniz's characteristics. Leibniz invented and built a mechanical calculator that could compute square roots!

     Two problems challenged mathematicians since the ancient times: rates of change (obtaining the tangent to a curve) and method of quadratures (area under a curve). The Egyptians and ancient Greeks were able to calculate areas and volumes of some figures (Rectangle A=ab, Triangle A= 1/2 ab). With the method of exhaustion, the ancient Greeks almost reached calculus. But the necessary notation had not been invented. Archimedes figured out the quadrature of a parabolic segment A(t) = one-third t cubed [no superscript with e-mail!] Kepler computed areas and volumes of 92 new shapes, but couldn't find a general method for all shapes. Fermat associated geometry and analytic representation: y/x = slope of tangent to the curve.

     From the Universal Law of Gravity, Newton reached the law of calculus. Rate of change of a function gives the slope. Fluxions give rate of change, the derivative. Newton's method of Fluxions was kept secret for thirty years. Though they never met, Newton and Leibniz corresponded for many years. Newton dropped many oblique hints to Leibniz. Whether from the hints or not, Leibniz figured it all out and published the calculus first. Both saw that calculus provided a general solution to rates of change of change problems (differential calculus) and to the method of quadratures (integral calculus) and that the derivative of a function and the integral of a function were related. Leibniz introduced the now familiar integral sign (from Latin for sum). To calculate the area under a curve, he constructed those little picket fences we now know so well and took the limit as their number increased without bound while their width shrinks to zero. His notation is considered to be better than Newton's. Who gets credit for inventing calculus? They both do, now. Back then -- Drama and Conflict among their respective supporters.

     Newton and Gravity

     You see, it all boiled down to 1/20". Galileo worked out the trajectory of a ballistic missile - a parabola. He was focused on frictionless surfaces and motion in a vacuum. The horizontal speed of a ballistic missile is constant. The vertical speed is controlled by constant downward acceleration. All bodies fall at the same acceleration. Newton thought, what if the gun were aimed horizontally and with a big enough charge, could the missile move so fast horizontally that by the time it fell the earth had curved underneath it by the same amount? An orbiting missile! Then the moon too? How far does the moon fall in one second?

     Newton: On earth, a = 32 ft/sec/sec. F = ma = G Mm/RR, where M = mass of the earth, m = mass of an object on the earth, R = radius of earth. Or, a = GM/RR.

     At the moon, acceleration due to earth's gravity is g = GM/rr, where r = center-to-center distance earth to moon. Since r = 60 R, or there about, then g = a/3600.

     All bodies fall at constant acceleration, so the distance the moon falls in one second is s = gtt/2 = g/2 = a/7200 = 32/7200 = .0044 ft = .05" or 1/20". Newton wondered, is this right?

     He then compared it with the orbit of the moon. By geometry and the Pythagorean theorem, rr + dd = (r+s)(r+s), where the radial distance from earth to moon is r, d is the tangential distance the moon would travel in one second if suddenly free from earth's gravity, and s is how far the moon falls towards earth in one second. Dropping the ss term, since it is dwarfed by 2sr, then s = sqrt(dd/2r). d = 40281" and s = 1/20" (nearly). A tremendous confirmation of the law of gravity.


     We fast-forwarded past this program. (Good looking graphics)

     Newton's Dynamical Laws

     At the heart of Classical Mechanics is Newton's equation: F = ma. A closer look reveals complications. Force and acceleration are vectors. Moreover, acceleration is a measure of how fast something is getting faster...a derivative of a derivative. Therefore, Newton's equation is a vector equation about a second derivative. Newton's three laws of motion reduce to this one vector equation.

     The three laws, as stated in the video, are:

     A body in motion continues in a straight line unless influenced by some force. [If F= 0, then ma = 0, so a = 0 if m>0. If acceleration is zero, then velocity is constant.]

     Change in motion is proportional to the force impressed along the straight line of force. [Regard Motion as synonymous with momentum] Impressed force = rate of change of momentum F = d(mv)/dt = dp/dt

     For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

     Galileo's ballistic trajectory as derived by Newton: 
     Fz = -gm      Fx = 0      az = -g      vx = const.= Vo

     Integrating along the x-axis 
     x = Vo t,    t = x/Vo 
     Then along the z-axis a first time 
     Vz = -gt 
     and a second time 
     z = -gtt/2 
     Eliminating the time parameter, 
     z = -g(x/Vo)(x/Vo)/2 
     z = k xx,    where the constant k = g/(2VoVo) 
The path is a parabola, as derived from Newton's equation

     End of Notes

     With apologies to Isaac, whose brilliant contribution of F = Ma must be omitted, this leaves us just enough space to ask that you call in your reservation(s) OR REGRETS to me or my friendly answering machine (867-2116) or by e-mail (see below) by Thursday afternoon, April 23rd, since I must call them in Friday morning.

Jack Gieck - and Vic Burke

Not that gravity makes the apple fall, but that the same laws that govern the falling apple keep the moon in the sky. 



Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, April 27, 1998 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Minutes, April 27, 1998

     Present for our April meeting were Vic Burke, Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Alan Gent, Jack Gieck, Bob Hirst, Bill Jenkins, Leon Marker, Jack Strang, Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson.

     Called upon for an opinion on our financial health, Treasurer Dan Galehouse reported that, remarkably, the club remains in the black, and may actually remain so until a customarily-meager fall assessment can be levied. In other business, in strict conformance with our by-laws, the current slate of officers was re-elected, with two new servants of the club installed (one unofficial, he claims). For the coming year, then, the brass consists of:

Chair Ernst von Meerwall
Vice-Chair Darrell Reneker
Secretary Jack Gieck
Treasurer Dan Galehouse
Program Chair Leon Marker
Program Vice-Chair Vic Burke
Adjunct Secretary for Reservations [!] *  Charlie Wilson

* [Secretary’s grateful comment]. And we welcome Vic Burke into the club’s executive management (especially if he helps find us some good speakers), as we recently welcomed him into the club.

     Speaker for our April meeting was Dr. Gary Roberts, former collaborator of Chairman Ernst and old friend of many (since he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Akron), presently with the Materials Section of NASA’s Lewis Research Center. Assisted by the most gracious video equipment operator we’ve had since the club’s founding, with a host of high-res multi-media images, Gary gave us a very well prepared presentation on THE DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING OF CONTAINMENT STRUCTURES FOR GAS TURBINE ENGINES — demonstrating the need for same in his film segments (some of these ultra-slow motion at 7000 frames-per-second) that could be R-rated for violence.

     Thrust of this Lewis work is driven by prepartion for the VE-90, the Boeing 777, whose two engines will develop over 100,000 lb. of thrust (compared with 50-60,000 lb. on the 747), and with a doubling of the diameter to dimensions (nearly twelve feet!) that dwarf technicians working on them. Fortunately, for those of us who grew up the Lindbergh era, Gary also traced the history of turbine engines from early jets that relied on the thrust of exhaust gases to the current technology in which the ratio of by-pass air accelerated out the back to (almost incidental) exhaust gases is 10:1. Tips of the gargantuan fans compressing this ambient medium travel at some 1500 feet per second while doing their thing, generating enough centrifugal force to do very bad things if they happen to come loose — and which we saw demonstrated with explosive discharges breaking loose the titanium blades.

     We saw several varieties of containment structures, including 80 layers of Kevlar, (a bullet-proof vest material out of the 1980s) as well an epoxy composite. But organic materials will have a hard time on the newest supersonic engines with their three-stage fans that achieve temperatures to 700° F — with goals, in contrast to short term requirements for military applications of 18,000 hours.

     We saw some striking (no pun intended) sequential images of crack-propagation resulting from real-world testing of state-of-the-art titanium blades. But because destructive empirical testing of candidate structures is very expensive, NASA is directing considerable effort to developing reliable computer modeling, and we saw some delightful video computer animation images resulting from this work — virtual metallographic analysis.

     As usual, we will meet at Tangier (532 West Market) at 6:00 PM for a social [half] hour, with dinner at 6:30. So: one last time before our new Secretary for Reservations (and related Tangier gurantee gambling takes over, please call in your reservations (or regrets) to me our my friendly answering machine at 867-2116.

Jack Gieck



Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, May 18, 1998 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

At our last meeting before the summer solstice (and simultaneous hiatus) we will be honored by a visit from Dr. Don Schuele, Professor of Physics, Case Western Reserve University, from whom we will hear about:


Minutes, May 18, 1998

     Reaching back across time once again to just the other side of the summer solstice, present for our May meeting were Georg Böhm, Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Alan Gent, Jack Gieck, Bob Hirst, Bill Jenkins, Dan Livingston, Leon Marker, Darrell Reneker, Jack Strang, Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson.

     The group was cheered by two pieces of good news: Jack Strang reported that Pad Pillai, after a finally putting down the siege of unwelcome visitors in his system, was out of the hospital and visiting his son in Buffalo. And Treasurer Dan Galehouse triumphantly announced that the club had finished the year in the black with a balance estimated between $12 and $15 (as we all know, extremely small quanta are difficult to measure).

     Charlie Wilson then introduced our speaker, Dr./Prof./Dean Don Schuele, whose specialty is solid state physics, and who, at various times in his career at Case Western Reserve, has been four different deans and head, variously, of the Mathematics, Electrical Engineering, and Physics Departments (not to mention his two years at Bell Laboratories). Don enlightened us about Nickel-Aluminum Shape-Memory Alloys — which turns out to be the tip of an extensive metallic recipe list, that includes copper-zinc, copper-zinc-aluminum, copper-tin, nickel-aluminum, nickel, titanium, aluminum, and about two dozen more that went by like a parade of alloys. Except, as it turns out, they are not really random alloys, but are actually crystalline structures with some very odd properties.

     Annealed at a high temperature while being formed to a given shape, objects made of these materials become almost mushy when chilled, being readily distorted into new shapes that will be retained until they are reheated — whereupon they snap back into their “remembered” original configurations. What happens is powered by a transformation of thermal into mechanical energy. If the resulting shear values due to distortions are less than 7%, recovery is very nearly complete.

     The very narrow transition temperature (from Martensite to Austenite [memorize these names before attending your next cocktail party]) turns out to be a function of pressure and, unlikely as it seems, the velocity of sound — and the percentage of nickel. We saw graphic evidence of these facts, as well as plotted transition loops that, it turns out, can survive over a million cycles.

     Atomic displacements associated with shearing of the crystal structure can be readily discerned under a microscope by changes in surface relief, of which Prof. Schuele showed several striking photomicrograph examples. More on this below.

     Our speaker brought along, and gave away (!), samples of “Nitinol” wire that we all got to play with, bending the pieces into clockspring shapes in ice water. and watching them pop back into their original crossbow configuration in hot water. Inventing the notion of showing as much on the overhead screen, Georg Böhm put one of Dan Galehouse’s transparent, flat-bottomed bowls containing hot water on the overhead stage, so we could see the wires do their spectacular thing in dimensions lots bigger than life size.

     Practical applications of the technology include electric muscles, self-actuating rivets, pipe couplings, sprinkler systems . . . The list goes on. For more examples — together with striking graphics, your secretary recommends the two web sites Don thoughtfully passed along via e-mail after getting back to his digs. These are:
http://www.uni.uiuc.edu/~richlin/chem.html  and ... 

     The second site, above, is more comprehensive, with lots of graphics, some of which percolate into animations — and a realization that Martensitic behavior is not limited to exotic nickel alloys. To wit: Historical researcher R. Madden believes that the transition from bronze to steel by 1200 B.C. was caused by metallurgists dissolving carbon into iron and tempering the resulting alloy, thus stabilizing highly distorted martensitic domains, obviating the hard, brittle properties of cast iron.

     And what is new is: Please call in your reservations or regrets (by Thursday, September 24th) to Undersecretary for Reservations and Associated Monthly Tangier Gambling (i.e., reservation guarantees) to: “Good Ole” (he claims on his website) Charlie Wilson836-4167. Thanks.

Jack Gieck 



Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, September 28, 1998 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Our Launching our new 1998-1999 season: we are pleased to welcome Dr. Kailash Satyamurthy of GenCorp Research, who will speak to us


Minutes, September 28, 1998

     At our first meeting for the 1998-99 year, we learned that, thanks to the efforts of Program Chairman Leon Marker, and a considerable contribution from new member Vic Burke (and an assist by Chairman Ernst), we are going to have some outstanding programs this year.

     But our first order of business, more than a little appropriately as it turned out, was a report on the condition of the club treasury, which, Treasurer Dan Galehouse advised, contained the grand sum of $11.00 in cash—$13.00 of which was a debt by an absent member to whom Treasurer Dan had personally lent the cost of his dinner at our May meeting, putting this sum directly into the treasury, excellent treasurer that he is. (I guess this turns out to be a debt to Dan).

     Our treasurer’s report precipitated a $5.00 member assessment, thereby averting a Chapter 11 filing. As if this weren’t enough pecuniary excitement for the evening, when our treasurer settled up with Tangier, he learned that the price of our dinner had escalated to $12.50, which, with our current tariff of $13.00, doesn’t quite cover postage and guest speaker dinners. This new crisis led to an impromptu Executive Committee meeting afterward in the Tangier parking deck (reminiscent of Woodward and Bernstein rendezvous with Deep Throat). A command decision was made to ask the membership to vote at our next meeting on whether the new dinner dun should be $14.00 or $15.00 (the latter would spread out assessments).

     But to get to our piece de resistance: Our speaker, Dr. Kailash Satyamurthy of GenCorp Research, whose PhD is in Engineering Mechanics, and who is a Certified Black Belt (!) spoke on the Application of Finite Element Technologies to Industrial Problems. It might have been subtitled, FEA and How it Grew!

     Putting his computer-based specialty into perspective, Kailash projected a thought experiment speculating as to the effects on society if Microsoft made cars. Probable consequences included our having to switch to Microsoft gas, expecting our car to have to be restarted a lot after dying for no reason, needing to purchase a new car every time new lines were painted on the road, and all of of us having to have the same size rear end (of us, that is, not the car).

     When finite element analysis was born 25 years ago, our speaker explained, every engineer proudly and laboriously developed his own software. Today there is so much canned software out there that new “experts” are cranked out after a week of training. Objectives of FEA technology today include a reduction in engineering effort (i.e. cost), reduction in cycle time (easier, more frequent product design changes), improved quality, faster design changes with greater flexibility, and, in case anyone missed it, reduced cost.

     Those of us who first perceived the wonders of FEA 2 1/2 decades ago, which then permitted those smarter than ourselves to check the calculated (and measured) strength of composite wheels, had our minds boggled by the demonstrated use of FEA from the start of a project, letting the computer invent design configurations to solve given problems with products made of solid and foam rubber, felt, composites, flexible or rigid PVC or other polymers—examples that included seals for car doors and windshields, refrigerator and freezer gaskets. We saw some of the wildly convoluted (sometimes weird) design intricacy that FEA is capable of creating.

     Worse than that, those of us who grew up in a world of drawing boards, single-cavity molds and physical testing laboratories were a little taken aback by anyone’s ability to run fatigue tests and even aging tests at a variety of temperatures on products of which a sample has never been made—including, it turns out, phantom tennis balls. We do hope that the Department of Defense, which agency we understand uses such techniques, does get around to firing the weapons on those airplanes while actually flying them in the real world! Thanks Kailash!!

     Once again, please call in your reservations or regrets (by Thursday afternoon, October 22nd) to Undersecretary for Reservations and Tangier Gambling Exercises (reservation guarantees) to: Charlie Wilson: 836-4167. Thanks.

Jack Gieck 



Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, October 26, 1998 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Our October meeting will be a reprise (on a different albeit related subject) by the very first speaker for our revivified Akron Physics Club in November, 1990. Dr. Bryan Anderson, KSU Professor of Physics and Director of the University Planetarium, this time will talk about about:


Minutes, October 26, 1998

     Some exceptionally bright news to open the evening was presented by Treasurer Dan Galehouse. For the first time in recent memory our treasury showed a positive balance (after paying for our dinners!) of $44.50, a grand sum for us.

     After several members called in with unavoidable absences (e.g., Jack Strang is in Aultman Hospital at the moment and we wish him the best on the tests he is undergoing) our attendance was reduced to stalwarts Vic Burke, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Bob Hirst, Bill Jenkins, Leon Marker, Pad Pillai, Darrell Reneker, and Charlie Wilson.

     Which is really too bad, because those present were treated to an outstanding lecture by Dr. Bryon Anderson, Assistant Chair, Department of Physics, Kent State University. Bryon has spent his entire career in nuclear physics and astrophysics, at Kent State and at Cal Tech—where he worked with none other than Willie Fowler. So it was more than appropriate that his topic was “The Solar Neutrino Problem — which, our speaker declared, was “the most outstanding problem in physics today,” and a viable solution to which would be “Nobel Prize material!”

     So it it seemed logical that Dr. Anderson first addressed a very old problem: “Why does the sun shine?” He reminded us that, barely a century ago, before the discovery of radioactivity, real live scientists thought the sun might be a big lump of coal. And, with the discovery of radioactivity in 1890, maybe a very big ball of uranium — which romantic notion was shot down by the calculation that the mean molecular weight of the sun was just a little over 1 — a long way from 238.07.

     All of which led to the construction of a solar model based on the impact of four protons in the very hot center of the sun, building up (via hydrogen) to helium 4 — with the release of 26 MeV of energy. Trouble with that was that calculation of the probable temperature of the sun’s center yielded a value of only 15 million degrees — which, unfortunately isn’t enough to bang mutually repulsive protons together.

     Further work run on solutions to five differential equations (hydrostatic equilibrium, mass equation, radioactive transport, conservation of energy, and equilibrium of state — these are actually digestible on a PC) with input of known values of luminosity, mass, mass fraction of hydrogen, etc., gave us the news that the sun must be 74% hydrogen, 25% helium, and 1% heavies, and the birth of the need for the neutrino, as in: p + p   c d + e+ + v a reaction mitigated by the weak nuclear force. The mean free path of v, the neutrino is believed to be about one light year of lead! Neutrinos are the most common thing, Byron advises, in the entire universe. Yet the collection of wild detectors invented to date can find only a fraction (a third to a half) as many coming from the sun as there should be.

     The first of these improbable devices was Ray Davis’s chlorine detector (putting 105 gallons of cleaning fluid in an old gold mine in South Dakota) in the 1950s. Successors, all in mines or deep tunnels, include gallium detectors (50 tons of liquid Gallium [which is 40% 71Ga] — MP 29.75° C if you wondered); the “water” (Cerenkov) detector (50 kilotons of pure water); the super Kamarkande (another big drink of [just plain pur] H2O) in Japan; Borexino, Italy (100 tons of a liquid scintillator); and, in Canada, SNO (Sunburg Neutrino Observer — 100 kilotons of D2O, heavy water [$300,000,000 worth]).

     Explanations for the deficit include neutrino oscillation (maybe changing from from tau to muon). But various hopelessly sophisticated experiments (including Kamarkande’s using the mass of the earth to determine directionality of cosmic ray-induced neutrinos), although giving us clues, have not confirmed the tau-muon shift. “Matter-enhanced” oscillations may help explain why we see only half of what is expected, but don’t hold your breath. Or maybe there’s something wrong with our model — but it doesn’t seem so. And then there’s the mass of the sun . . . Pretty soon this audient felt like a water skier who had fallen down but refuses to let go of the rope. Lots of luck Nobel aspirants! (Incidentally, if the darn things turn out to have mass it will revolutionize our view of the universe — dark matter, whatever.) Thanks for a mind-expanding evening Bryon!

     Back here in the real world at Ohio’s geographic summit, once again, please call in your reservations or regrets by Thursday afternoon, November 19th, to Undersecretary for Reservations and Tangier guarantees (and other bad stuff that I really appreciate his doing) to: Charlie Wilson: 836-4167.

Jack Gieck 



Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, November 23, 1998 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM

Speaker for our November meeting will be Dr. George Collins II, member of Case Western Reserve’s Astronomy Department. Prof. Collins’ subject will be:


Minutes, November 23, 1998

     Present for our just-before-Thanksgiving meeting (which, sadly, cut into our attendance for a downright dramatic program) were Georg Böhm, Vic Burke, Tom Dudek, Dan Galehouse, Jack Gieck, Bob Hirst, Bill Jenkins, Leon Marker, Ernst von Meerwall, and Charlie Wilson.

     Asked, Treasurer Dan Galehouse advised that our treasury was even further into the black than last month (he later confirmed a balance of $52.55) thus earning adulation for his stewardship. Dan’s happy news was followed by more of same from Vice-Program Chair [make that Program Vice-Chair] Vic Burke, who announced some outstanding speakers for the new year, including the one featured above, and Dr. Alan J. Rocke, Henry Eldridge Bournes Professor of History and Chair, History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Case Western Reserve, for February.

     Our November speaker, Dr. George W. Collins II, theoretical physicist and Adjunct Professor, The Department of Astronomy, Case Western Reserve University (another Burke find) presented his long-anticipated dynamic lecture on SS433: A Bizarre Binary Star System. Although his overhead slides characterized the 13th magnitude stellar object as “The Enigma of SS433,” the details offered by our speaker confirmed that “bizarre” is, indeed, a better description. To wit:

     SS433, an object in the Milky Way Galaxy on a radial line 30° off from Earth, is a radio source, an x-ray source, an emission line object whose spectral lines shift continuously and enormously (probably due to Doppler shifts), an object shooting out jets in two directions 180° apart — in short, a genuine gee-whiz object that made both Saturday Night Live and Paul Harvey when it first hit the media.

     SS433 dominates the sky with a radio image six to eight full moons wide, having the shape of a very fat (and obviously very large) paramecium. Its spectral lines shift on a 162-day period, and its jets spew out stuff having a velocity of some 78,000 km/sec. It is a “seething cauldron” generating of the order of 1041 ergs/sec (1039 in the jets), so bright (100 solar luminosities) that it is just as well we can’t see it any better.

     So what is SS433? I feel guilty about giving it away without living through the agonizingly-constructed Lagrengian and Hamiltonian dynamical models with their multiple simultaneous differential equations, but since it has probably already appeared in the supermarket tabloids: The object is an oblate spheroid (not an accretion disc, despite earlier speculation), a very massive object, probably with a collapsed core (that would have been observed as a supernova at the time), orbited by a smaller companion that is gushing out material being eaten up by the central monster. In 1980-81, SS433 appears to have experienced a “glitch” during which it shot out gamma rays (while probably suffering a stellar quake), and after which its periodicity changed. Most astounding, our speaker feels, is the scale of the object. Yet it would fit inside the solar system. One can see why SS433 has dominated George Collins’ attention for two decades. For its future, our speaker gave us a couple of options to choose from, but he believes that SS433 may end up as a binary consisting of a black hole orbited by a neutron star.

     Other concepts Dr. Collins gave us to chew on (while we contemplate the award-winning science fiction novelette inspired by all of the above) include a black hole the size of Cleveland with 80 times the mass of the sun, orbited by a second object (a neutron star would do nicely) where Akron is — an object rotating 80 times per second. Exhale.

     All right then, New Year’s Resolution No. 1 for Members in Good Standing: please call in your reservations or regrets by Thursday afternoon, January 21, to Undersecretary for Reservations and Tangier Guarantees to: Charlie Wilson: 836-4167.

Jack Gieck