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Tue Dec 08, 2020 11:17 pm
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Carina says...



Does your literary work follow the laws of physics? Do you need a STEM situation to be as realistic as possible? Do you want to know about the aftermath of a crazy theoretical science situation that could happen? Then ask away, because you're at the right place!

For context, I am a Mechanical Engineer EIT with R&D experience. I don't do as much writing these days, so I thought I'd do my best to help out other users with their stories! Engineering is a broad subject, but luckily my discipline is the least specialized, so I can answer questions that relate to the following subjects (from most to least specialized):
  • Thermodynamics (law of energy conservation)
  • Heat Transfer (conduction, convection, radiation, EM spectrum)
  • Fluid Mechanics (air, water, or any other fluid at rest or in motion)
  • Statics/Dynamics (Newton's Laws)
  • Mechanics of Materials (stress, strain, shear, torque, torsion)

I can answer most things under those categories, but I'm more of a subject matter expert in the following:
  • Energy usage and analysis (any applied energy source like power plants, batteries, fuel cells, etc)
  • Nuclear science* (fission, fusion, shielding, radiation, waste)
  • Design optimization (machine design)

* keep in mind that I am not a nuclear engineer; I've simply worked in the nuclear industry (nuclear power plant + nuclear nonproliferation for long-term storage) and have taken multiple energy classes to understand the conceptual basics. I would not be able to demonstrate complex nuclear physics, for example.

Engineering is simply applied science, so example questions of the topics above could include:
  • If there was a nuclear fallout, how would one obtain a reliable source of electricity?
  • If my story takes places hundreds of years in the future, what may the energy infrastructure look like? (Hint: it's likely not combustion or typical power plants with a linear grid!)
  • How would a space ship and/or submarine reliably obtain power?
  • Would X design work for Y application?
  • How can I make this superpower adhere to the laws of physics?
  • My character has lasers coming out of their eyeballs. Can you explain what would happen if they lasered a person? What about a lead block? What about water? What if they were in space?

The following are subjects that are not my strength, so it may take some time to answer:
Spoiler! :
  • Electromagnetism. I can immediately answer existing applications of it like motors and the hyperloop concept, though!
  • Material science. I can explain basic stuff, but nothing too specific without pinging someone.
  • Detailed chemistry. I'm not a chemist, but I certainly deal with basic chemistry concepts like ideal pressure law, endothermic/exothermic reactions, hydrogen applications, etc.
  • Bioengineering. I, uh, only took one biology class, and that was in high school lol. I have professional 3D printing experience and can probably help with that aspect though!
  • Manufacturing. I honestly wasn't a fan of this class in college, but I can explain basic things that exist.

Still, if you ask something I'm not an expert in, I may be able to come up with a general answer or ping someone in my network. I have an extensive network that include mechanical, electrical, chemical, material, and civil engineers. :)

This is just for fun and to help out fellow authors, so please don't post questions that obviously relate back to homework or other assignments. We've got the Homework Mat for that! I can certainly explain concepts that may help though, i.e. how does an internal combustion engine work?

Ask away! ~
if carina were a soda, she'd be a white claw. refreshing, but a bit alcoholic.
—veeren

dare u to ask me a question in Ask an Engineer >:)
  





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Wed Dec 09, 2020 12:24 am
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MaybeAndrew says...



Okay this is an awesome idea and you're going to be getting a lot of questions from me but here's the most pressing on.
Let's say we made a new boson that could move electrons around and we used this boson to shove a ton of electrons into one space... what is the maximum we could get in that space? And if we maxed out, what would happen? Like, what happens if we shoved them into a human, could we make it stable and make the person live as a human battery ready to blue if the bosons holding the electrons in?

(for context this is in a superhero story where each character can manipulate one basic fundamental force in some way or another. This is always done by consciousness energy which turns out to be a whole new type of particle that creates consciousness and is really hard to measure but in vast quantities can do crap like move electrons or cut holes in spacetime.)
Previously Andrewknorpp, now less sure.
  





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Wed Dec 09, 2020 2:06 am
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Carina says...



@Andrewknorpp I'm glad to help and I'm excited to see what other questions you may have! Your story sounds super interesting.

First, a disclaimer: the question you asked relates to electromagnetism, and as I've put in my first post, this happens to be a topic I'm not as familiar with. (In fact, I'd go as far to say that electromagnetism is the topic I'm least familiar with in college. >_>) I have connections I can reach out to in case my post doesn't answer your question, though.

Anyways, I'm not completely useless, and so below is my attempt at answering your question! I used Coulomb's Law and assumed the constraint here is the strength of bone (~4 kN), and that the average volume of a human body is ~470 terra-cc. Obviously, a human body is not 100% made out of bone, but let's pretend we've got a mega Skeleton Man so we can jam as many electrons as possible into this dude, since a normal human body would have much less.

I assumed these things because if the electrons have no distance between each other, it would take an infinite amount of force to repel each other. Anyways, the answer is (lol) 2000 yotta-electrons (2 x 10^27) per average human body!

Of course, this answer will change depending on the space you're taking up, but I laid out the math in case you want to change things up~

Image

Now, what would happen if we reached this maximum limit? Well, if we surpass this amount (say, 3000 yotta-electrons) then the force of repulsion would be so much, the poor skelly would be torn apart from the inside and their bones would SNAP CRACKLE POP.

(Now, their skin and muscle is probably already decimated at this point, but hey, who's counting technicalities?)

In terms of your question of if this would make them a battery... Do you mean for electricity? Because electricity is not just electrons; it's the movement of electrons. If you want to be technical, electricity is essentially the same thing as current, and voltage is the power. The best analogy I can think of is water. Electricity is water, current is a flowing river, and voltage is how 'powerful' the river is. Right now, putting electrons in a space like a body is like a glass of water, but you need a river if you want to harness the power, and batteries must have an anode and cathode for proper movement to occur. I'm afraid a body is not a proper battery, and although I'm no expert in this, I'm suspecting this poor person is going to be electrocuted. :P

Now, if the character harnesses the electrons into proper materials that act as a cathode and anode, that would be a different solution.

Energy storage happens to be one of the most fascinating research topics for me, and I can go on and on about what I think the future will hold, because we are at the brink of an energy revolution. Major R&D in energy storage is needed to support intermittent renewable energy since the only reliable source right now is pumped-storage and lithium batteries (but that's up for debate...), so can your character please come to life so they can solve this energy crisis and save the world? ;)
if carina were a soda, she'd be a white claw. refreshing, but a bit alcoholic.
—veeren

dare u to ask me a question in Ask an Engineer >:)
  








“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
— L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables