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HUG Interns take on new experiments! [UPDATE #1 - Progress, Purchases, and Changes]

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Well, we interns are finally nearing the end of our research phase, we're about to actually do stuff! Real stuff! With our hands! We're currently in the planning phase of the experiments are here to solicit whatever information you can give us that you think will help us along the way; papers to read, places we can buy stuff, pointers on experimental procedure, concerns, comments... anything helps.

Nuclear Particle Emission During Electrolysis

The first experiment that we are going to attempt is essentially a replication of work done by Oriani, modified with elements from both Aizawa and Kowalski's experiments. The experiment involves low current electrolysis between a Pt wire anode and a Ni wire (or film) cathode in a lithium sulfate solution electrolyte. The electrolysis cell will be outfitted with a CR-39 detector on the bottom in contact with the cathode. CR-39 is a plastic commonly used in eyeglasses that detects penetration from high energy charged particles. When a particle penetrates into the CR-39, it leaves a track of radiation damage in its wake that can be etched out via a NaOH solution and observed with a microscope. If all goes according plan, we should see clusters of these tracks on the CR-39 that originate from a hypothesized nuclear reaction occurring in the cathode (or electrolyte).

The Google doc embedded below contains a detailed description of the experiment and the materials we need.


 Any help you can offer on the questions posted at the end will be hugely appreciated!

Piezonuclear Reactions

This experiment is less traditional and will be going off of research performed by Italian professor Alberto Carpinteri.  In his research he applied a force until failure to pieces of rock using a hydraulic press and observed neutrons and transmutations on the surface of the rock samples. Carpinteri used samples of Green Luserna Stone, Carrara Marble, and Magnetite of different geometries and sizes.  For a neutron detector he used a BTI bubble detector. To make things a bit more interesting, we have come across a paper analyzing Carpinteri's data that claims his data is too correlated. While this may be discouraging if it is true, we will use our test to to acquire more data and compare our results. The basic setup of the experiment will utilize the 50 ton (445 kN) hydraulic press we have on site, a wall surrounding the rock to shield and contain, a neutron detector, rock samples, and cameras to monitor the experiment. By testing a variety of rock samples we are hoping to see a variation in neutron counts above background levels. 

The Google doc posted below further explains the experiment and will be continually updated as the procedure is refined. It would be a large help if anyone could provide suggestions for sources of rock samples and the neutron bubble detectors!  

UPDATE #1 - Progress and Purchases

First of all, thank you for your input here on the blog.  All comments are taken into consideration and the protocol is continuously updated to reflect these observations.

Piezonuclear Reactions

Progress is being made! After a couple phone calls, a source for scrap granite in the area has been found and I will be picking up some of the stone this afternoon. Wes and Malachi brought in a few rocks containing quartz that could be interesting samples or at least good for practice. The scrap granite and rocks will likely need some work before they are ready to be crushed, but we have a wet saw on site that we can use to try shape up the stone. After receiving a price quote from BTI about the bubble detectors we are making a decision regarding ordering.

We are looking for suggestions for a supplier of magnetite samples (as well as any type of rock you would like to see us crush) and a software program that would allow us to record using multiple webcams connected to the same computer.

CR-39 Electrolysis

Well, I'm a little late in adding my update, but update I will. 

First of all, the decision has been made to skip the Ni film portion of the procedure. Unfortunately Ni film is far too expensive to be a worthwhile investment for us. Other than that, most of the materials are being ordered, I'm still having a little trouble getting a hold of the company where I'm going to get the CR-39 (a company called Track Analysis Systems) and acquiring the Mylar film is a bit troublesome, but I just got off the phone with DuPont and hopefully they'll be sending me some small sheet samples... fingers crossed.

A slight change has been made in the control procedure, as can be noted in the Google Doc (I removed the "Stuff I Need" portion because most of the links I had have been changed. If you are curious about my ordered supplies, I have a new purchasing list I can post). Essentially, the new plan is no longer to perform a live dummy electrolysis cell, as we are not certain that Cu or Fe won't give positive results, so instead we are going to stir the control cell with either Ar or nitrogen gas. This will create bubbles in the solution that simulate bubbles created during electrolysis that could possibly attract radon and radon daughters to the Mylar film or Ni cathode, which would otherwise result in a false positive. Also, it has been suggested to us that in order to account for the fact that CR-39 chips can have an inconsistent amount of track marks before they're used, chips will be etched and counted before they are ever used, and then the data that we use will be the difference in the number of tracks before and after. I personally believe this is a great way to isolate the results as much as we can to something weird going on during electrolysis.

I welcome any other suggestions you guys have on possible control tests. Also, if anyone knows exactly to what degree the Mylar film will block other energetic particles, like neutrons, tritons, or 3He, that information would be extremely helpful.

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0 #25 98Harry 2018-02-03 11:30
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0 #24 Ecco 2013-07-17 18:09
@Edwin Pell: I haven't checked the paper in detail as I don't know much about nuclear physics (and thus can't judge whether the theoretical explanation is sound or not) and as I am aware that papers written by Widom or Srivastava usually make sense only to a few select people. I was mainly referring to this sentence in the abstract:

A theoretical explanation is provided for the experimental evidence that fracturing piezoelectric rocks produces neutrons...
which might give some clues on the rock samples to preferably choose for the next MFMP experiment.
0 #23 Edwin Pell 2013-07-17 17:16
Quoting Ecco:

Neutron production from the fracture of piezoelectric rocks
A Widom, J Swain and Y N Srivastava

Under the category of everybody has their pet peeves. In figure 4 they show a four point interaction. There are no four point interactions. There are only three point interactions. That is current current interactions via a force carrier. In this case a 80 GeV W+/-.
0 #22 Ecco 2013-07-17 08:13
@MFMP: this theoretical paper is related to the brittle fracture experiment you're about to perform. It wasn't very clear to me before, but it seems that neutron production appears from fracturing piezoelectric rocks. Quartz has piezoelectric properties:


Neutron production from the fracture of piezoelectric rocks
A Widom, J Swain and Y N Srivastava


A theoretical explanation is provided for the experimental evidence that fracturing piezoelectric rocks produces neutrons. The elastic energy micro-crack production ultimately yields the macroscopic fracture. The mechanical energy is converted by the piezoelectric effect into electric field energy. The electric field energy decays via radio frequency (microwave) electric field oscillations. The radio frequency electric fields accelerate the condensed matter electrons which then collide with protons producing neutrons and neutrinos.
0 #21 Jordan D Maiers 2013-07-16 18:47
@Ecco @Edwin Pell

I really appreciate your interest in my Ni film quest, but unfortunately, it seems the costs outweigh the experimental benefits for us. Getting film that cheap is quite expensive no matter how you look at it, so it looks like we're just going to do the Ni wire cathode experiment. While this is a bit of a bummer, I believe the wire should be a great experiment, Oriani used a wire cathode and claimed to get results in 25 consecutive experiments.
0 #20 Ron B 2013-07-15 14:50
What would really be cool is if you could get a camera that could shoot 1000 fps and film some slow motion clips from the rock crushing. I think the cameras that can do that are pretty expensive (like 500-1000 dollars).

Casio High Speed EXILIM EX-FH25 10.1 MP Digital Camera
0 #19 Robert Ellefson 2013-07-15 07:19
@Angie Savela: From my impression of this experiment's objectives, it would not seem that high accuracy of the measured load imposed is of primary importance. Given this, I would suggest that measuring the load by measuring the hydraulic pressure applied to the known, fixed piston area will provide a sufficiently accurate measurement for documenting your results without needing a load cell. Of course, this point is moot if you do in fact obtain suitable specimens that fail below 50 tons.

As for sample isolation, I have very little practical experience in analytic chemistry, far too little to suggest anything with more authority than you possess. Perhaps simply cleaning the apparatus reasonably well between crushing events and using clean sample bags or jars that get sealed immediately following each crushing experiment will suffice? Hopefully somebody with knowledge of any potentially useful analytic techniques will be able to provide further suggestions. I don't know offhand who that would be though...
0 #18 Edwin Pell 2013-07-13 01:02
Here is a ten pack of 10cm by 10cm by 7.5um nickel for about $250.
0 #17 Ecco 2013-07-13 00:52
Not an expert, but wouldn't the best procedure to obtain thin strips of metal be through rolling?

0 #16 Edwin Pell 2013-07-13 00:45
Quoting Jordan D Maiers:
5 micron is extremely thin,

Have you tried working with metal this thin? I think you will find it extremely frustrating.
0 #15 Ron B 2013-07-12 17:20
Yes, it might take a while but it would sure be nice to be able to control the original material in this way. You can always get these Canadian nickles and I'd bet the uniformity of them would be something you could count on (because they made so many of them).
There's discussion of adding more tonnage to the press for the crystal crushing experiment. Possibly you could leverage that to your advantage?
0 #14 Jordan D Maiers 2013-07-12 15:58
@Ron B
That might be a possibility... But 5 micron is extremely thin, and something in me doubts that we're going to be able to get something that thing with just a big press. Although maybe with a BUNCH of pressings it would be possible. I'm not metallurgist and I don't really know what it would take.
0 #13 Angie Savela 2013-07-12 14:06
@Robert Ellefson
Our load cell is only accurate to 50 tons so even if we had a more capable press we wouldn't be able to measure the load. Using the dimensions of the samples Carpinteri used along with the load where failure occurred, I think we can develop a rough idea for the size of samples to use.
Also, since my experience with rocks is limited to a rock tumbler, what would you suggest for a protocol for sample isolation? I was thinking simply bagging up and labeling samples from before and after crushing.
0 #12 Robert Ellefson 2013-07-11 21:21
Oh, I forgot to mention that in case you do not gain access to suitable specimens that fail below 50 tons, you can certainly construct very-high-tonna ge presses quickly and easily if you have access to some plate steel and high-pressure hydraulic cylinders or hydraulic multiplier units. Enerpack makes a series of 10Kpsi elements that is popular for shopmade presses. Just torch-cut an open aperture in one or more large steel plates that will fit the cylinder, sample, and horizontal mounting plates inside, when the large plate is oriented vertically. Choose a cylinder or cylinder combination to get the tonnage you need, and double-up on thick plate if you're going much past 100tons. If you can get ahold of the materials, you can probably make a suitable press in a couple of days or so, assuming you or somebody you're working with has the appropriate fabrication skills and equipment.
0 #11 Robert Ellefson 2013-07-11 21:14
Fantastic! Great write-ups, both of you! You're raising the bar...

For the rock-crushing experiment, I would suggest also retaining appropriate control specimen samples and observing appropriate sample isolation protocols so that you can retain some of the residue for later, more detailed analysis. This is just in case you come to have access to such resources, either back at school or from observers offering help.

I'm looking forward to seeing these experiments!
0 #10 Ron B 2013-07-11 20:07
I saw there's a large press in the workshop. It might be possible to take an older Canadian nickle (99.9%) and cold work it down to the thickness you desire. It might take a while.

As a young boy I would put a nickle on the railroad tracks and after the train passed by it was as flat as a pancake.
0 #9 Robert Greenyer 2013-07-11 17:04
Awesome Guys. Great to see us do the rock crushing... wonderful theatre with possibly profound meaning.

Might I suggest a gopro hero 3


or a few... some at the bubble detectors and some on the rock....

these will do WXGA at 240fps and you can sync them with a clap!
(well, in post)

0 #8 Jordan D Maiers 2013-07-11 14:06
@Edwin Pell
We are certainly performing a control run with the CR-39, as is explained in the third paragraph of the Google doc. Instead of running with a lead sheet and totally blocking all emissions from the cell, the plan is to have a whole separate "dummy" cell that we can run with some inert material (probably Cu) and compare the Ni cell against this. We believe this will give the most definitive control as it will help us identify if the tracks that are being seen in the CR-39 are just a result of electrolysis and not unique to the Ni-H system.

And thanks for the suggestion on Ni film! The only issue is that eBay doesn't have a thin enough sample. The foil is so thin because any generated radiation products have to travel through the foil before reaching the detector, even particles generated in the cathode (as is suspected) have to be able to make their way out in order to reach the detector. If the foil's too thick, nothing will reach the detector.
0 #7 Edwin Pell 2013-07-11 01:57
On the nickel foil front stay away from scientific supply places as you have found out that increases the price 30x. I suggest ebay. I just found 6" by 4" by .05mm nickel foil for $32 (shipping included) on ebay.

Yes, the science places may have purer materials 99.999% and ebay may have 1% impurities included but purity is not needed for this experiment (I am guessing).

Here is a wide selection of reasonably priced nickel sheets.
0 #6 Edwin Pell 2013-07-11 01:47
Since you need only a small sample of stone I would guess your local stone quarries would be happy to give you some samples. Just go visit the local quarry and explain.

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