(2016-05-07) Opening the Ark
Opening the Ark
Summary: Cue the Map Room music from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Mon and Terry sloooowly machine the top off the dead alien power cell Mon took from the school bus. What's inside? Braiiiinz!
Date: 2016.05.07
Related: None

Monica wanders in with Terry. "…bottom line, I don't know what could happen. Most likely scenario is that nothing happens. It's a dead power cell. But I wouldn't put it past the aliens to booby trap them. I would."

"Well, hey… I joined the Corps to see the world, make a difference, get some excitement in my life. This is exciting." Terry replies, gesturing around. He pauses. "So, how can I help?"

You say, "Meet interesting people and kill them, right?" She chuckles. "Well… witness for one thing. If I blow myself up, drop dead, if the thing starts humming and the ghosts from the Ark of the Covenent start buzzing around… well, it'd be nice to have someone say "yep, that's how Mon got melted into that puddle." I feel safer with you here. Plus… you know more about nuclear, biological, chemical, and probably nanotech hazards than I do."

"The Ark spirits won't kill you unless you look at them, if I recall correctly." Terry notes, though it's been a good while since he's seen the movie. "And we do have CBRN — Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear — specialists. I've only gleaned so much in passing." He shrugs. "Besides.. if you do melt, I'll just scoop you into a bucket, make some sort of Monica mold, pour my liquid Monica bits into it, and fire you in a kiln.. or something." He jokes.

Monica chuckles. "Or just make me into sausage and don't tell anyone." She chucks the bar-of-soap sized power cell into the mill, sets up the mandril with a carbide cutter, and hooks up the support as though she's expecting to cut into something very, very hard. Who knows? "How many of these things are in a drone when you get into them, do you know?

"Only one, that I know." Terry responds, finding a place to settle in so he can enjoy the show. Just to be on the safe side, he swipes a nearby pair of protective eyewear for himself, and tosses a pair to Mon. Every little bit helps, he's been told in years gone by.

Monica pulls them on, cranks up the gas engine powering the mill, and raises the table until the mill just touches the top of the power cell. It piffs into dust. "Whatever it is, isn't harder than carbide," Mon notes.

Terry pulls a journal from his pack, along with a pencil, and begins making notes and sketches. The notes are coded in shorthand "Terry-ese," something he learned when serving in the military, when wanting to write notes around a bunch of nosey parkers. "Neat. Anything else?"

Monica takes a few cuts with the mill until she's sure the machine can cut the power cell without being destroyed or wrecking the cutter pointlessly. Then she turns on the power feed and lets the mill do the job itself, and keeps watch over it, spraying cutting oil on the top of the power cell frequently. "Truth is I feel safer with you here." The work is, frankly, boring. She shaves the top away, a thousandth of an inch at a time. "Smells like… when you break a plate. So it's maybe ceramic of some kind. I'll collect the swarf so we can analyze it chemically later. So far we're two thousandths into the cover, and it's still homogenous. So probably still the casing. Maybe it's a big sponge for electrons." Mon chuckles, nervously.

"Smells like broken plates, substance possibly ceramic.. two thousands into cover, still homogenous… possibly big sponge for electrons." Terry muses as he writes, nodding. He streeeetches luxuriously, sticking the pencil behind his ear. After a few moments of silence, he remarks, "…So, this election.. it's a big deal, I'd think. It'll shape the direction of the camp for a good while."

Monica nods. "I have no idea who nominated me. I mean, yeah, I'm an obvious choice, but Lincoln is way better qualified. I mean, my science training is…" she blinks. "We're through. This is it." She watches as the machine skins off the last layer of the shell. "What is that? Looks like… brains, kind of, but they're not wet. If you can draw, you gotta check this out."

Terry wanders over, and eyeballs the thing Mon's pointing out. He's not one of those 1:1-OMG-IT'S-A-PHOTOGRAPH! folks, but he does a decent job of getting the idea across. "What the heck is that?" He blinks at it.

You say, "I don't know yet. It kind of does look like a sponge. Or brains, like I said." She stops the mill and carefully dusts the powdered cover away. She gets a magnifying glass and has a close look. "Whatever it is, it has massive surface area. Like… filaments in a light bulb, a twist of twists of twists… and if I had an electron microscope I might be able to see more twists still. It's huge in there." She gets her galvanometer out and probes with it. "No electrical activity now… I'm not feeling any ill effects… some… magnetism, not a lot…"

Terry nodnods, mhms, and continues drawing, feeling almost like one of those kooky shrinks listening to a patient. Of course, he's no psychologist, so it's not really like that. "Magnetism?" He blinks, looking up from his journal.

Monica nods. "Look, it's deflecting my galvanometer even without the windings hooked up." A galvanometer is really just a compass with an electromagnet wound around it east to west. Without that magnet active, it goes back to being a compass, but as she plays it close to the power cell, the needle wiggles, slightly.

"Huh." Terry notes. Da-amn. "That's interesting." He continues taking notes, glancing up every so often for visual cues/references.

Monica dusts the insides of the box carefully, and reaches in with a pair of wire cutters and what looks like a test tube pilfered from the high school chem lab. She takes a sample, and drops it in, then a few more. "No enraged spirits of the Ark… still feeling no ill effects… by now if it were hard radioactivity, I should, right?" She takes some of the powdered cover and puts it in another test tube. "Don't tell Eli I borrowed this from him." She puts yet another sample on a glass slide, and fishes a microscope out of one of the cabinets. She adjusts the mirror to pick up the afternoon sun. "Definitely twists in twists… and yeah… I'm seeing third order twists. Maybe forth order. Kind of like DNA, but not a double helix organization…" she steps back so Terry can look through the scope.

Terry steps forward, and spends a few good moments eyeballing the slide. Once he has a good mental image of the slide, he copies it into his journal, and resumes his original spot nearby. "So, we've got an alien-DNA-non-radioactive-not-quite-Ark of the Covenant." He says, almost deadpan.

If you took a black thread and twisted it on itself, and then twisted that on itself, and then twisted the result on itself, you'd have what's in there. It might suggest ears of corn, too. Terry might notice that the edges aren't quite round. Mon comments, "Your brain does look delicious today…" She waits for whatever reaction Terry's likely to give up, before bursting out laughing. It lets go of the tension. She moves to one side and takes a tiny pinch of the sampled contents of the power cell out and holds them in tweezers, and holds her lighter under them. It burns with a yellow tinge. "Hmm. Gonna have to figure out a diffraction grating or a prism to break that out… or do it with other chemicals.

As Mon makes her comment, Terry looks up with a slightly confused expresssion, before resuming his note-taking. "Burning sample of power cell presents yellow-ish flame.." He glances outside, briefly, to give his eyes a rest from the monotony of the indoors.

Monica exhales slowly. "I guess I'm surprised how physical a device it is. I mean… I dunno, I was expecting a zero point energy collector or something but this… is storing the charge physically. I think we can assert that from the surface area.

Terry blinks in surprise himself. Yeah, he was expecting something along those lines as well. Zero-point energy collector. Mhm.

Monica packs the power cell up in saran wrap and boxes it up. She stoppers up the test tubes. "I need to do some chemistry in the school lab to figure out exactly what this stuff is… man, if we could build these things, it'd be a game changer for sure. DId you ever read Heinlein's Friday?

"I glanced at it. I was more into Tom Clancy." Terry shrugs, and grins. "Go figure."

Monica chuckles. "Somehow I'm not surprised. Anyway, the core idea of the book, once he gets away from Friday's boobs, is that there's a way to can electricity. He calls it a shipstone. It scales. However much power you want to store, you can. What it gets rid of is electrical grids. You concentrate electrical power so densely it's more efficient to ship it by mail than over wires. The plot of the story's all about how one monopoly controls this and ultimately takes over the world economy and has inter-departmental wars, blah blah, but… shipstones are kind of a lot like what Elon Musk was trying to do with the Tesla battery. Sure they could power a car, but they could power a house, too." Mon sighs and looks down at the power cell. "If this thing really is just a physical electricity storage device… it could be our shipstones. We wouldn't have to move the Sunray wind farm here. We could just make these, charge them up there, and bring them here. Stack them up for winter, or whatever.

Terry nods. "We should get this info to the rest of the group, see what they say." He finishes making some last-minute notes and sketches, and tucks away his journal (which, by now, is more of a sketchbook anyway). "You ready to head back to camp?"

Monica nods. She shuts the mill's engine down. "Thanks for being here with me for this.

Terry says, "Sure thing, Mon."

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