Science Fair Project (Continued)
Stored attributes in material state changes / polar and non-polar molecules.
Considering computation on the simplest of levels and how it might relate to my previous project, the recreation of a 6th grade science fair project (a Van de Graaff generator). The notion of stored states in computing came to mind such as storing binary states on a magnetic medium. This led me to consider the effects of strong electrical fields on polar molecules, for example: water (H2O) and whether or not an effected state could be stored from one state to another, such as from liquid water to solid ice.
With the characteristic asymmetry of one Oxygen atom and two Hydrogen atoms, water molecules will polarize when a strong e-field is present. Seen here… a stream of water changes its natural downward trajectory curving toward a charged hair brush.
I decide to experiment with polar molecular liquids undergoing a state change from liquid to solid while in the presence of a strong electrical field. I experimented primarily with water, using dry ice (solid CO2 ) to accelerate the formation of ice while in close proximity to the VDG (Van de Graaff generator).
Initial observations did not reveal any striking differences in the ice formed within a strong e-field other than an irregular and uneven surface (seen at top), though it was unclear whether or not this was caused by the electrical field and its effect on the water molecules while forming a crystal lattice or more likely… due to the plastic container being used and its insulating properties.
Stored Electrical Charge
An unexpected phenomenon was that the ice and water had the ability to retain a significant amount of charge long after the generator had been turned off. While handing the ice and water, a significant and sustained charge (lasting more than 10 min.) could be felt dissipating over time. A crackling sound was also audible as the ice melted. The full extent of the stored charge was confirmed unfortunately by a curious bystander (William Hunter Jennings)… seen here in a dramatized reenactment:
While separating a piece of ice with a steel chisel he experienced a powerful discharge from the ice in the form of a visible bluish arc. The sudden jolt caused Mr. Jennings to jump back losing control of his arms, hurling the chisel across the room.
A similar effect was also confirmed with charged water… with a discharge much stronger than the generator… suggesting that a storred accumulation was taking place.
While further investigation is needed a possible explanation could be that the water and ice are acting as a crude Leyden jar or capacitor. It is unclear whether the charge is being stored in the water itself or if the water is acting as a dielectric and the charge collecting on the PETE (polyester) container instead.
A similar effect was also seen below in the accumulated water vapor that condensed and then froze on the dry ice. The dry ice being non-polar was unaffected by the electrical field, while the charged water’s path could be captured over time as it accumulated while being drawn toward the generator.
It would be of interest to explore other polar molecular compounds and other state changes such as solid to liquid, but focusing on materials that have reversible states.
Considering the stored electrical potentials… Leyden jars and high voltage capacitors are dangerous… further research and safeguards need to be considered before this can be taken any further.