Friday, June 03, 2016

Doing interesting Astrophysics, with lathes, electron microscopes, and old water heaters.

I think that it's possible to do some novel, leading edge astrophysics with lathes, old water heaters, and electron microscopes... here's how.

There is some debate about the existence and nature of micro black holes, which if they exist, and don't immediately swallow up the nearest planet, might be able to pass through us, and earth, without doing much immediately noticeable harm. They would be small, microscopically small, and perhaps leave a whole just barely visible to an electron microscope through anything, including the earth.

So, if we were to take a large heavy steel object, such as the tank of an old water heater, there would be a non-zero chance that it had been the target of such an event. Strip the tank of its insulation and plumbing, and chuck it in a large lathe... turn the outside surface smooth, then grind it smooth enough to see the grain boundaries in the steel... and then scan the entire surface... you'd get a lot of noise because of said boundaries, etc.... then grind off a few more atoms, and scan it again... you could match and eliminate most things, while looking for holes in the same general place (but offset a bit of angle)... a few passes through and you should be able to find any evidence.

If not, chuck the scrap, and try again.

There you go, a leading edge astrophysics experiment you could do at home, if you have a lathe, surface grinder, electron microscope, some compute power, and a supply of old water heaters.  8-)

No comments: