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The "Z" Machine...


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I thought you'de want to see this. http://www.observer.co.uk/life/story/0,6903,416412,00.html


Science 2001






A machine called Z


Under a ring of water in a sealed chamber in the middle of the New


Mexico desert lies the heart of a machine that could change the world


Michael Paterniti


Sunday December 31, 2000


It is never night inside the Machine. Even after the sun has set on


the mesa and Jimmy Potter and the frogmen and the men in white


jumpsuits and the men in blue jumpsuits have showered, packed up, and


gone home; even as yawning, befuddled scientists - with names like


Jim Bailey and Mark Derzon and Melissa Douglas - sit in offices in a


nearby building, trapped by their own reflections and in the


blackened windows; and even as this oesophageal dark falls over


coyote and jackrabbit and moves everything towards sleep and dreams,


towards the deepest centre of the night, the Machine is awake.


Its 36 Marx generators are set in a ring like a metallic Stonehenge.


The 20 Rexolite disks of the vacuum chamber look like flying saucers.


Its vast, concentric pool of five-weight oil and deionized water


seems bottomless - real oil and real water, in half-million-gallon


tanks that sit one inside the other like a wheel within a wheel. Even


now, there are depths in the Machine, invisible worlds revealing


themselves, the secret body of the universe floating up. Deuterium,


tritium, helium.


It begins with the flip of a cyber switch in the control room at the


north end of the hanger. Before a bank of computer screens, a man


clicks a mouse, and then electricity, quietly sucked off the


municipal power grid in Albuquerque, floods into the outer ring of


Marx generators. Which is when the Machine takes control. A siren


sounds, red lights flash, doors automatically lock. The frogmen and


the white and blue jumpsuits clamber over the high bay, down metal


steps, and retreat to a copper-coated room behind a foot of cement.


Another switch is flipped, another mouse clicked. To the piercing


sound of an alarm, a countdown in the Marx generators ensues, or


rather a count up, in kilovolts, comes in a monotone, almost hollow


voice beneath the frantic alarm. The man in the control room on a


tinny loudspeaker, the Machine speaking through the human.


'Twenty kV...'


'Thirty kV...'


'Forty kV...'


To continue, Goto the following link... http://www.observer.co.uk/life/story/0,6903,416412,00.html


Science 2001




Sandia's magnetic gun


A magnetic field that accelerates pellets faster than anything except


a nuclear explosion has been developed experimentally at the


Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories. The machine that


generates the field has been jokingly dubbed "the fastest gun in the


West," but the description is an understatement.


"It's the fastest gun in the world," says Sandia physicist Marcus


Knudson, lead scientist on the project. The propulsion speed of 20


km/sec — almost three times that necessary to escape the


gravitational pull of the Earth (about 7 km/sec) — would send


material from New York to Boston in half a minute, and from


Albuquerque to Santa Fe in a few seconds. A rifle bullet is typically


propelled at 1 km/sec.


The machine, Sandia's Z accelerator, currently propels dime-sized


pellets called flyer plates only a few hundred millimeters to gain


information on the effect of high-velocity impacts. The data gained


can be used to simulate the effect of flying space junk impacting the


metal skin of an orbiting observatory traveling in the opposite


direction. The data is expected to aid materials scientists trying to


balance lightness against strength for satellite and observatory




To continue copy and paste the following link into your browser... http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?s=c4d2abc74fca23606ca97570ce50a92d&threadid;=2665



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Sandia's Magnetic Gun"...(Continued)


The Exosci Link may, or may not be randomly interfaced, so below is the remainder of the contents to this article.


The technique also has potential as a hypervelocity “kinetic kill” weapon that, emanating from a lighter, more mobile source than the huge Z machine, still could strike disabling blows through an adversary’s heavy armor. These more mobile sources are already in development. Perhaps most importantly, though least dramatically, the technique is the fastest, most accurate, and cheapest method to determine how materials will react under high pressures and temperatures. These characteristics can then be expressed in formulas called “equations of state” — equations that tell researchers precisely how materials will react if basic conditions like pressure and temperature are changed by specific amounts.


While not a favorite topic for most people, accurate knowledge of equations of state is essential for the U.S. to maintain its nuclear weapons without physically testing them. The maintenance program, called “science-based stockpile stewardship,” uses the most powerful computers in the world to predict the result of unimaginably high temperatures and pressures upon materials. Accurate predictions depend on accurate input about the characteristics of those materials — that is, by a full knowledge of their equations of state.


Researchers currently are unable to determine these material characteristics except by the less accurate, more expensive methods of impacting test materials with laser beams, or at lower energies with projectiles from gas-powered guns.


The propulsion technique works by applying the Z machine’s 20 million amps to produce an evolving magnetic field that expands in approximately 200 nanoseconds to reach several million atmospheres pressure. The relatively gentle acceleration produced by the field is similar to that which might be experienced in a smoothly rising high-speed elevator, rather than from the shock imparted by a firearm.


Accelerated to 13 km/sec, the plates are neither distorted, melted, nor vaporized, as they would be if shot from a gun. When the plate is accelerated to a speed about 20 times faster than a bullet, or 20 km/sec, the more forceful acceleration needed to reach higher velocity causes temperatures of 2,500 K to occur in the flyer plate; this liquefies aluminum flyer plates.


Better understanding of launch configurations is expected to eliminate this problem, though liquidation still is superior to the worst alternative of vaporization — the result if conventional acceleration could be used to reach these speeds. (No power can be delivered from a vaporized pellet.) Characteristics of copper and titanium plates are also being investigated.


The plates are accelerated in the vacuum chamber at the core of Sandia’s Z machine, the most powerful producer of electrical discharge on Earth. Sandia scientists last year used Z’s enormous magnetic field to test materials by compressing them — a method called isentropic compression.


In this even newer technique, staggering the firing of Z’s 36 lines eliminates the shock that melts the flyers at the higher velocities. The resultant expansion of the powerful magnetic field is used to propel small objects somewhat the way a surf boarder is propelled who catches one of a succession of enormous waves.


A paper accepted by the Journal of Impact Engineering describes techniques that accelerated the plates to 13 km/sec.


A paper to be submitted this spring to the Journal of Applied Physics shows how improving the configuration of the loads increased the speed of the flyer plates to 20 km/sec.


The work is funded primarily by DOE.



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