Time for writing is still quite quite close to zero. Time for reading is an order of magnitude higher than that — maybe close to half an hour per day. Possibly double that if you count time for reading stuff in books I’ve had for years while waiting to wind down enough to sleep or waiting to inflate a saggy tire on the car.

I got an uncharacteristic chance to read a bit about new findings regarding the Casimir effect and van der Waals forces yesterday, a topic hyped in the press and near-press tabloids as “levitation”, as it seems the normally attractive Casimir-Polder force can be reversed with an appropriate lens made out of a kind of metamaterial construct that is at least theoretically possible to build…. but understand here we’re talking about forces that operate over distances of around a hundred atom-widths. This isn’t quite a flying car scenario. “Levitation” is a reversal or nullification of gravity. Levity, gravity. Get it? At a hundred-atom distance, we’re not operating on a scale where gravity is measurable or detectable.


We are talking about nullifying or reversing friction. We’re talking about tinkering with the forces that govern whether a substance is a solid or a liquid or a gas or whatever. For certain classes of substances. In certain carefully exact configurations.

Which means the press that serves the geek audience missed the chance to herald the impending advent of Super-Lube.

I expect they’re really kicking themselves now.

A side track drew me into looking up excitons, magnons, phonons, plasmons, polaritons, and polarons. Makes me wonder how many other (merely) microscopic or even macroscopic effects might be harmonics of quantum forces driven by stuff on the sub-atomic or atomic scale acting in near-concert. Or a bunch of things we haven’t noticed yet. Not exactly wavicles per se, but phenomena that act like them enough to adhere to the weirdness of quantum math. It also reminds me of the entirely consistent “Dark Suckers” theory of light bulbs (“when you turn on a light it sucks all of the dark out of the room”), complete with “speed of dark” calculations…. I swear some of that math looks an awful lot like the “negative pressure” math for the expansion force, and certainly a lot like the “electron hole” stuff for semiconductors and Cooper pair formation in superconductors.

Anyway. Levitation? Not quite. An important widget for creating nanomachinery? You betcha. Turning on and off intermolecular attraction gives a nanomachine a hand. A literal hand. Like for picking stuff up and putting it down. That could be useful.


August 8, 2007 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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