8.32 - Electroacoustic Thermodynamic Transduction

Electroacoustic Thermodynamic Transduction
By Professor Harvey Wangenstein, Electrodyne Engineer - January 13, 1884

For thousands of years, Mankind survived, if not flourished, in some of the most inhospitable climates on Earth. From the sand-scoured dunes of the Sahara to the frozen tundra of Siberia, Mankind always found a way to persevere. However, life within such a region was never easy. In places of extreme heat, the search for fresh water and the dangers of sunstroke were never far. In frigid climes, the difficulty of remaining warm and staving off frostbite while securing enough food could not be overemphasized. Even today, in this Era of Progress, Mankind is unable to fully compensate for the hostility of his surroundings. While modern cartographic methods are truly magnificent, they have yet to map the whole of the Earth. Places of potentially enormous Scientific value lie behind walls of deadly climate, just outside Man's reach. What untold wonders wait there for Mankind to discover?

Whenever Man faces a seemingly insurmountable task, it falls to Science to provide a solution. And so it is with this. What could Mankind do with a Device that allows him to heat or cool anything he wishes at any time and to any degree? I believe we shall all see, and soon, the limitless answers to that question, for I will now present a Theory that will give Man just such a power and the means with which to harness it.

Atomic Theory is a fascinating (and relatively recent, Scientifically speaking) field of study, one to which I continue to devote countless hours. Something that particularly interests me is the interaction of mechanical vibrations upon material at the Atomic Level. It has been observed elsewhere that all atoms and molecular lattices of atoms vibrate at a frequency and magnitude relative to several factors, including the amount of heat energy contained within. Atomic vibrations are virtually harmonic, meaning that they are almost perfectly regular in form. By measuring (as well as can be done) the base frequency of any atom or molecular lattice, we now have in our possession the necessary information to control its temperature, and through it, the temperature of its surroundings. The Theory works through the interaction of constructive and destructive interference. Think of it this way: if a large pendulum is suspended from the ceiling by a rope and set to swinging, we have a simplistic but serviceable model of atomic vibration. If we then push on the rope in the same direction as the pendulum's current travel, we increase its speed and therefore, its energy. Conversely, if we push on the rope in the opposite direction as it travels, we slow the pendulum's movement and decrease its inherent energy. In Atomic Theory, an increase in an atom's energy is expressed as a similar increase in its temperature. A decrease in an atom's energy results in a decrease in the atom's temperature as well. By applying mechanical vibration at the same frequency as that of the subject atom, we "push" the atom even faster, and increase the amount of heat it possesses. If we invert the same frequency, we meet the atom's energy head on, as it were, damping its vibration and cooling the atom. With the proper base frequency, we can heat any material to boiling or freeze it solid. In order to harness and control this awesome power, we turn to the most common mineral known to Man: quartz.

At best, quartz is an under-appreciated material, generally overlooked by Man when compared with its flashier brethren such as gold, silver and diamond. The Scientific mind, however, knows that simple quartz has a quality that the purest gold or largest diamond does not possess: the piezoelectric effect. The direct form of the effect generates electricity proportionate to any application of mechanical stress. The converse form of the effect generates mechanical vibration equal to an applied electrical charge. Today, the Difference Engineers use the piezoelectric effect's ability to convert mechanical signals into electrical signals and back again in their continuing work with their telephone and other successors to telegraphy.

The Electroacoustic Thermodynamic Transducer (E.T.T.) makes use of quartz and the converse form of the piezoelectric effect. Within the prototype Transducer, an array of identical quartz crystals is arranged in a circle around a central glass rod ending in a tuning fork at the front. The array is set up so that each individual quartz crystal has an identical crystal of inverse frequency on the other side of the rod (its "opposite"). When the paired quartz crystals are exactly parallel to one another, the vibration of one cancels out that of the other. Two dials on the Transducer are attached to the quartz array. Each is responsible for one degree of movement within the array. The first maintains the array's distance from the glass rod. The second dial controls the crystals' sideways displacement, relative to its opposite. Used properly, the deceptively simple controls can produce almost limitless combinations of frequencies and amplitudes. As the crystals are moved out of synch with their opposites, minute vibrations remain as a byproduct of their imperfectly interfering frequencies. These vibrations are transmitted to the glass rod. The rod's silicon composition, similar to that of quartz (SiO2), minimizes the corruption caused by its own innate frequencies so that the vibrations from the quartz array may pass, unimpeded, until they are emitted at the glass tuning fork protruding from the front of the Transducer. Both dials must be precisely set in order for resulting vibrations to have an effect. I have taken to marking the specific points on the two dials to allow for quick recalibration for the heating and cooling of common materials. While it should be unnecessary, I will mention that under no circumstances should the Transducer be subjected to undue jostling. Between the glass central rod and tuning fork, the quartz crystal array and the precision control dials, the Transducer can be quite unforgiving if mishandled.

The Transducer is powered by electricity because of the natural requirements of the piezoelectric effect. A trigger at the base of the gatling gun-sized unit controls the application of electricity to the quartz array. While any convenient source of electricity will do, I have found a combination of a built-in, hand-cranked generator and capacitor performs well with a minimum of bulk or fuss. A voltmeter at the top of the unit gives the Operator an idea as to how much longer the Transducer can be used before requiring a recharge period. So, to review: When the trigger is pulled, electricity stored in the capacitor is transferred to the quartz array. The crystals in the array begin to vibrate due to the piezoelectric effect, at a frequency determined by the settings on the Transducer's control dials. The vibrations produced are transmitted to the glass rod and projected from the tuning fork at its front. If the vibrations come in contact with the proper material, they will, through constructive or destructive interference, add to or negate the energy that the material's molecule possesses. The boiling, melting and freezing of any compound known to Mankind is possible, using the Transducer. It should be noted that when material is cooled using the Transducer, there is a momentary burst of heat that emanates from the object as the vibrational energy countered by the Transducer's vibrations are converted into heat energy and expelled. The amount of heat radiated will vary with the degree of cooling and the size of the object cooled. In most cases, this heat will not be damaging to nearby matter, though the acting Scientist should, of course, always exercise caution. While there are likely upper and lower limits to the Transducer's effectiveness in terms of a molecule's energy and temperature, they should be well beyond the needs of the Scientist in the field and would most probably be encountered by Scientists working in laboratory conditions.

As the twentieth century approaches, challenge after challenge falls to Mankind's unwavering curiosity, relentless drive to succeed and all the tools that Science provides. As part of my own meager contribution, the Electroacoustic Thermodynamic Transducer has the potential to open up entirely new worlds to Man's exploration, as well as having myriad uses domestically. There will be no heat that Man cannot withstand, no cold that he cannot endure, no lands he cannot explore. If Mankind used the Transducer responsibly, what would remain to keep him from discovering the all the wonders the universe has to offer? If there were an answer, rest assured that Scientists, with inventions like the Electroacoustic Thermodynamic Transducer would rise to that challenge, as well. 


(Second Edition.) Using Forces ••• (•••••)/ Prime ••, the acting Scientist creates heat or cold from electricity produced by the Transducer's generator. The size of the mass to be heated or cooled determines whether Forces ••• or ••••• is warranted. If a sufficient external electricity source is available to be connected to the Transducer, Prime •• is not necessary. There are several options open to a Storyteller who doesn't want their Player's Scientist running around roasting or freezing everything in sight. First off, the Transducer is a very fragile mechanism, prone to misalignment and damage. If the character carrying the Transducer takes a fall, takes physical damage or botches a roll in its use, the glass rod/tuning fork could crack or shatter, one of the quartz crystals could break, or the array itself might fall out of alignment, preventing use until it is repaired. The capacitor may be completely drained if a faulty voltmeter doesn't function correctly. The settings of the Transducer's control dials can also be a fair limitation. The Storyteller may require a Science roll in order to reset the dials for a new material, as well as require a more difficult roll in order to set the dials for a material that the character has never before used the Transducer upon. [2000 Derek D. Bass ]

See Also

Additive and Subtractive Synthesis
difference tone
First Law of Thermodynamics
Laws of Thermodynamics
Power of Beat Harmonics
Second Law of Thermodynamics
Third Law of Thermodynamics
Tuning Fork

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Saturday July 9, 2016 12:34:13 MDT by Dale Pond.