15 January 2007

Wheezing Fred is having a baby!

Well, to be precise, Mrs. Fred is having the baby, and while Fred did some of the preliminary work, it is rather unfair of him to claim all the credit when the difficult 99.99% of the manufactury process is left for his wife.

This is not to say that that men couldn’t make a baby, especially if we were allowed to use Bondo, power tools, duct tape and plenty of beer was involved. But let’s face it, we’d probably end up with some freakish looking monstrosity and we get enough of those when politicians breed (N.b. Dear reader, Should you happen to be a Massachusetts Senator please don’t sue me, you can blame this one on heavy metals in the Cape Cod water supply.)

No matter. “Congrats!” I say enthusiastically as this is a perfect excuse to drink his whiskey. I am free this weekend as Gretchen and the louts are at Cape Kennedy, where no doubt the louts are attempting to steal solid fuel boosters for the car that they foolishly think I will let them buy when they are in the increasingly unlikely event that they live to be 16 years old.

Fred had a far better idea. We should go to work and drink the boss’ whiskey.

An hour or so later we sat in basking in the happy glow that can only be achieved with top-notch booze that has been paid for by someone else. My feet up on the boss’s desk, I batted lazily at his chaos machine while Fred examined his Crooke’s radiometer.

“I’ve often wondered,” Fred speculated, “whether one could get the vanes of such a light mill to spin in a microwave oven.”

“Well it’s a thermal effect, isn’t it?” I replied. “A microwave photon shouldn’t care about the presence of the black paint. The painted vane would react in the same fashion as the unpainted. No spin.”

“Well, that would be true for a monopole type point-source, but as you know, the emission in a microwave is directional. If we are careful about placing radiometer, it should respond not unlike a turbine.”

We made some crude calculations on the white board, but some questions simply must be resolved experimentally.

Now, it should be noted that Fred and I are both highly trained scientists. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Try this at work, where the ensuing damage can be blamed on the cleaning staff.

We first had to disable the turntable and when the microwaves were emitted, the vanes spun wildly. For a second or two.

Then they became incandescent. Really, really incandescent.

“Gah, I’m F-ing blind!” Fred wailed. “What should we do?”

“Well, it’s said that whiskey helps!” I suggested.

“That’s for snake bite!” Fred replied disdainfully.

He’s right you know. So I bit him and back we went to the whiskey.

Long story short, our vision eventually returned; if double for a period. We’re getting a new microwave at work and the cleaning staff are getting a stern talking-to. Gretchen and the louts returned with some suspicious looking long tubes that will cause Houston some problems if they don’t notice them missing before the next shuttle launch.

Damned good weekend, all told.

And that's the way I likes it.