WEEK 3

Monday. 18th August

I was late returning from London, as I had to go and meet one of our technicians to pick up some special oscillators he had constructed for us.
He lives way out west and it took up most of the morning.
Sadly, the power supply we had sent him to connect it to turned out to be unregulated, and he took great pleasure in snipping the lead in half, holding it up to my face and saying ‘See this?. This in, the trade is what we call crap’. He then handed me the disabled power supply.
And said, ’Never, ever bring me something like this again, unless you want to kill me. And if you do, you don’t need to use dodgy electronics you’ve bought off the market, just keep on settling your bills as you are doing and I will fucking starve to death.’

He then handed me his invoice and declared it was his lunchtime, ‘And lunch time,’ he informed me ’ waits for no-man’.
I obviously could not argue with that, and I was hurried towards the door, stopping only briefly to admire a floating globe he had recently bought from Farnells.
‘Magnets’, he said, in a way of explanation for the levitating sphere.
‘Yes, I guessed that’, I replied.
‘It’s not really magnets’, he said, and leant towards me in a slightly conspiratorial manner.
‘Oh how is it done then’, I asked.
He leant in slightly closer and said, ‘Magic. Now fuck off I’m hungry’.
As I left his workshop he beckoned me back.
As he shuffled me out of the door he said to me.
‘It’ll never fly you know’, he said with a dismissive air.
‘What won’t fly?’, I inquired
‘The fucking force field. No way, I’ve seen people try and do this before, and it always goes tits up. I’ve seen good people have a go at this, and yes they all think they have done the maths, and they all think they have got their head around the physics, but not one of them managed to get it to work’.
I wasn’t sure how to take this warning, and attempted to pass it off lightly, but before I could fashion a reply he started what I presume he intended to finish.
‘There was one bloke who nearly made it work ‘.
I was intrigued.
‘How close did he get?’ I asked.
‘About ten inches ‘, he replied, ‘ Then wallop’.
‘Wallop?’
‘Well, maybe not wallop, but whatever the sound made when 20 million mega volts runs through a human being’.
‘Oh’. I didn’t know what to say.
‘And all this talk of frying is making me hungry. I’ve got a lovely bit of cod roe waiting for me at home, so will you please let me go’, and with that he got in his car and disappeared down the road leaving me holding a large Cuban cigar box containing an oscillator.

The slow train journey back to Sway, gave me ample time to finish checking the readings I hadn’t got round to at the weekend. However, the technician’s tales kept on coming back to me. I couldn’t concentrate on the readings, and so gave up trying.
I arrived back in Sway in the late afternoon.
The working day was almost over, and I found Kyp sitting outside the lab in a deck chair, cooling off and eating an ice cream.
After the initial pleasantries I asked him if he had had a successful day. He grinned with his ice cream covered mouth and replied.
‘ Yes very good, I think I know what we need to do to make this fucker work’.
‘Oh’, I replied, ‘and what’s that then?’.
‘Loads more mega volts. We have been erring on the conservative side. We need to juice this baby up big time’.
I felt slightly sick.
Kyp then wiped the remaining ice cream and chocolate flake on the sleeve of his lab coat, and announced it was time to celebrate his discovery in the pub.
It’s now 10.30, and I am writing all these conversations down so I don’t forget them. Down the pub I explained to kyp what the tech said. Kyp did not take it seriously, and dismissed it as scientific myth.
I hope he is right.
Tomorrow, I need to redo the maths to find out.

Tuesday 19th August

I spent the morning re-doing the maths. Although still perturbed by the technician’s stories, it appears that kyp might have a point.
However, we agreed to go ahead with the tests we had already decided upon.
Thankfully, the small scale shielding experiments went very well.
I don’t want to release too much detail at the moment, as the results haven’t been totally ratified, and they have not been party to peer review. The review is difficult, as we have only a limited amount of time to get this up and running, and so waiting on verification is a luxury we cannot afford. We generally have to trust our own readings and run with it.
I’ve been thinking that Kyp’s ideas about increased voltage might work, but I’m wondering, that maybe we could tinker with the humidity levels, and hopefully keep the voltage to a minimum.
Kyp does not concur, and he might be right; if so we need to reconfigure the back up generator, so that it will be able to handle that amount of juice and also boost the refrigeration unit for the magnatron because it will have to deal with a lot more heat.
I think we can do it, as the operational parameters we built it with are quite wide, it’s just we have never pushed it to these extremes.
Still, the shielding experiments appear to have yielded some very positive results. For example, today we did not quite get a feather to levitate, but we got it to fall at a slightly reduced speed.
We think we have ‘reduced’ its weight by about 1.8%, which is as good as p———managed.
I wonder what Newton would have made of it. I think he would have liked it, for as John Meynard Keynes said, ‘Newton was not the first modern rationalist, but the last great magician.’

Wednesday 20th August

Another day in the lab.
Energised by our feather experiment we pumped some more juice into the magnatron. The shielding effectiveness seemed to have risen by another 1.6%, making our shielding a quite staggering 2.4%.
I can’t quite believe it.
I must admit, 1.6 % is a mean taken from the five tests we conducted, some being more successful than others.
Still, pretty good stuff and way above of all my expectations at this early stage.
Kyp was more blasé about it, and is now locked in his room trying to work out how to give the rig more juice. We agreed that he could do the speculative maths, and I would read through it to see if it holds up.
Still, it was a very exciting day, the most positive so far.
My only reservation is with the attitude that if we throw more power at the system, then it will be better.
I’ve never agreed with this hypothesis, (less is more in my book) especially if it saves me from going ‘wallop’.
To make this technology more democratic we need to make it energy efficient. Others disagree, and say that once it has been proven to work is the time to think of efficiency. Indeed many other people will hop on the bandwaggon for that very reason.
I’m not so sure, once a system has been built with an in-built expectation of fuel, it is very hard to change it, and even if you do manage to do it over a period of time the social and cultural implications within the intervening period can be enormous and unrectifiable.
I will not go into the science vs ethics debate just now, as I have far too much data to read before I sleep, and sleep can be a very haphazard science, or a very dark art, depending on your point of view.

Thursday 21st August

A very bad day.
For some reason we were not able to replicate any of the results we achieved yesterday.
We cannot even replicate the 1.8% shielding from the first day.
On average the best we could do was a 0.8% shielding effect.
I think it might have something to do with the lack of control over ambient humidity. Kyp, in his usual conspiratorial way is claiming that someone has messed about with the equipment and we spent the evening checking each piece of apparatus.
Essentially, it was all fine. The magnatron and the refrigeration unit were both how we left them. The dew point meter was giving out the right readings, and so we could not have been wrong about the moisture levels.
For sure we had a few minor glitches, but nothing that should have effected the experiments or the data so drastically.
Still, it is early days, and so I should not feel so disheartened.
The previous day’s results may have been anomonalies, which sometimes can lead to a new direction of inquiry.
As I have already mentioned, Kyp’s favourite Fortean chestnut is ‘A circle can be measured starting from any point’.
What he fails to realise is that the measurer, if travelling around the circle will still find himself back at the same point, at the beginning. This is a very narrow way of looking at a circle.
One has to learn to think outside of the box, even if the box is rotund.

Friday 22nd August

Another half day, as I am frequently finding myself, I need to return to London for further meetings.
However two strange occurrences happened today.
I learnt from the newspaper that a large part of London had been plunged into darkness due to a grid failure. Once we were down in the laboratory I asked Kyp whether he thought it was caused by terrorists armed to the teeth with Tesla coil based weaponry.
For once, Kyp seemed to have very little to say on the subject, but seemed to be looking over my shoulder into the middle distance.
Finally, after what seemed to be a very long and awkward time, Kyp said.
‘I think we should leave’.
‘Why, are we being attacked by your friends?’ I asked with a self-satisfied air of sarcasm.
‘No, I don’t think we are being attacked, but the blue warning light is flashing’.
It was at this point that I noticed what he meant.
The room was bathed in a blue flashing light.
Kyp had the headstart out of the door, although I quickly followed.
We moved with such speed, that if there were the proverbial women and children in there, they would not have been trampled under foot, but we would have stopped to actively engage them as a barrier against the oncoming terror.
I hit the floor hard, momentarily after Kyp, and we lay like rabbits in invisible headlights behind the small brick wall that runs parallel to the outside of the lab. After about two minutes we put our head above the parapet. Nothing seemed to be happening, other than the blue light flashing from within the lab. We cautiously got onto our knees.
After re-entering we found the light was still flashing and so we closed the whole operation down, called it a day and headed back to London.
With no juice running through it, it would be safe over the weekend, and to be frank, I had enough for one week.
A refreshing couple of days were in order.

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