Archive for the ‘Crystals’ Category

Better living though chemistry

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I should be celebrating, because the first draft of Gamers and Gods: Asklepios is complete.

I should be…but I’m not. I’m in the process of trying to pass a 4mm kidney stone.

The good people in the ER gave me a prescription for Percocet, but this pain is so intense that the painkillers aren’t killing it, they are only managing it.

I got home from the hospital at 7:30 yesterday morning. By 10am the stuff they had pushed into my IV at the ER was wearing off, so I took a Percocet.

It lasted for about 6 hours. I took another one at 4pm and it lasted 6 hours too. (the prescriptions had said 1-2 tablets every 4 hours).

At 10PM I took a third Percocet, figuring if the trend continued it would take me through most of the night.

It didn’t. The third pill wore off around 2 am — only lasted 4 hours. This means that either the third one was less potent or the stone was definitely on the move again.

For those of you who have never passed a kidney stone, I can tell you that the rumors of it being as bad as childbirth are pretty true. What happens is that the stone, a tiny chunk of minerals crystallized out of the urine in the kidney, has to pass through tight-fitting tubes: it cuts grooves, etching its way down these tubes.

When it does this, the tubes go into spasm, which generates the pain.

Kidney stones can apparently take years to form if the cause is excess uric acid (which also causes gout if the crystallization occurs in joints or extremities). They can also form in as little as a few days if the body is dehydrated so there is not enough water in the urine to keep the minerals dissolved. It’s been hot here in Florida, and I sweat most of the time, even in my sleep. This may have led to my problem. I have to force myself to drink more fluids than I did in my air-conditioned apartment in Virginia.

Since I am awake most of the night with this pain, I am distracting myself by beginning the sequel.

–MRK

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Back to School; Simulations and Laser Crystals

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

UCFIt had been almost as decade  since I looked this way in 1970; now it was late 1979. I had interrupted my pursuit for a Physics degree to try to get into business constructing and selling hypercube loudspeakers. When our trip to NY didn’t turn out as well as we had hoped, we were broke again; the corporation more or less went dormant, waiting for the eventual issuance of the patent which happened 12 months later in Nov 4, 1980 as Reagan was being elected President.
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UCFI returned to school by entering the University of Central Florida in Orlando (UCF) majoring in Physics. On the way to my BS Physics degree I was gluttonous and took electives like Medical Physics, Numerical Integration Methods (Physics simulations using FORTRAN to calculate trajectories and orbits), Quantum Physics, The Physics of Science Fiction, Electronics, and Laser Physics (a Graduate-level course using Amnon Yariv’s Quantum Electronics as the text).
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The FORTRAN simulations turned out to be fun once I discovered that I didn’t have to punch a deck of Hollerith cards. There were a small number of terminals accessing the university computer which allowed FORTRAN files to be entered at video terminals line by line and then executed to generate output. This was more fun than punching cards to make a program.
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But the coolest course was the graduate level course in Laser Physics. I learned for the first time that crystals have arcane uses in laser optics. For example, there are the ’simple’ frequency doubling crystals, which under the proper conditions can change red input laser light into blue output light. Then there are the Magneto-Optic effect crystals, which can use an applied magnetic field to rotate the axis of polarization of the laser beam passing through the crystal. The ability to manipulate the polarization of the laser photons, in combination with an external polarizer, enables the beam to be modulated by magneto-optically varying the angle between the beam polarization and the external polarizer. This turns out to have important applications in fiber optic data transmission and Bell’s hypothesis quantum inseparability experiments.

On 11/4/1980 we received U.S. patent #4,231,446. On 12/19/1981 I received my bachelor’s degree.

– MRK

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