Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I would like to buy some Transparent Aluminum...

So sayeth Scotty, in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In the movie, an alien probe has returned to Earth and is pulverizing the planet trying to talk to the only intelligent species it found on the last trip, Humpback Whales. The crew set off in a captured Bird of Prey back through time to find a few to bring them back to the present in order to pacify the probe. They go into a "modern day" plastics distributer to buy "Transparent Aluminum" with which to build an aquarium for the whales. They are told there is no such thing. They negotiate for some Polycarbonate to build the aquarium out of by bartering the formula for "Transparent Aluminum".

At the time the movie was made, everyone thought "Transparent Aluminum" was just another cheezy plot device... at the time, it WAS fiction, well, it is fiction no more.

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, The Army Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds Md., and the University of Dayton Research Institute have developed Aluminum Oxynitride for use as transparent armor. In a recent test at Ft. Drum's Team Patriot East in June 2004, both conventional laminated Glass Armor and an equivalent (half the weight and thickness) piece of Aluminum Oxynitride were shot by both a Russian M-44 7.62mm (.30 cal) sniper Rifle and a .50 cal BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) sniper rifle both firing Armor Piercing Ammunition. Both rifles penetrated the glass armor, but neither were able to penetrate the Aluminum Oxynitride. For more Information, you can contact Pamela Gregg at the University of Dayton Research Institute

You can also read more here, here, and here.


Anonymous said...

Now if we could just get somebody to come up with that transporter device and its close relative, the replicator!

January 19, 2006 3:17 AM  
Anonymous Eric Berger said...

First hyperspace, now transparent aluminum?

This was, hands down, my favorite scene from Trek IV.

Good stuff.

January 19, 2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Welcom Eric, I knew from the logs somebody over at the Chronicle had been lurking about, I figured it was you =D.

Yes, Gene Roddenberry might not have made as many science goofs as everyone likes to think. Mainly because his method of exposition was kind of campy it made the substance of his ideas seem suspect.

We live in very interesting times, what was science fiction merely 20 years ago is now science fact.

The scary part is I'm not that much of a trekkie....

January 19, 2006 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Eric Berger said...

What amuses me is that we've already surpassed science fiction in a lot of ways -- most notably communications -- but are lagging so far in others that people 30 years ago probably would have bet on. Here I'm thinking of flying cars and interplanetary travel. It's a little depressing.

January 20, 2006 11:54 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

True nuff! Some of those are of course unforseen physical limitations we have not worked ways around yet. Others are more economically driven. But the biggest issue I have are the people that love to use the phrase "If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can do X" where you fill in the blank for "X". It is this sort of thinking that has shunted us into killing the appollo program halfway through, crippling our manned spaceflight capacity and pushing us into wasting money on Appollo-Soyuz, the shuttle and the ISS instead of maintaining Skylab and forging ahead with a manned Lunar base. Instead of spending money on those things we have thrown good money after bad on a misguided "War on Poverty" for the last 40 years. Well guess what, we still have about the same percentage of people living in poverty. The Liberals have had thier chance at fighting poverty and they have lost miserably. All they have suceeded in doing is breeding entire generations of people that have never TRIED to work in thier lives. That do not know nor CARE to know how to take care of thier own needs and have instead become parasites on society. They take thier freely given educational chances and throw them away and instead choose to live in poverty. It is time to reign that waste of money and effort. Ben Franklin was not only a great inventor, but was a great philosopher as well. I cannot remember his exact quote so I must paraphrase it, but he said something to the effect "Do not make the poor comfortable in thier poverty, instead you must drive them from it". We must drive the poor from thier comfortable poverty and force them to learn to live on thier own and thereby contribute to society instead of being a burden upon it. When we remove that huge drain on society's resources we will then have the wherewithal to colonize the moon and Mars and mine the Asteroid Belt for metals, and mine Jupiter for hydrocarbons, and it's moons for water. We have the technology to do so now. It is not so to speak, "Rocket Science", (Ok so it is, but you understand what I mean.) To paraphrase Jim Lovell in "Lost Moon" AKA "Apollo 13", "It isn't that we couldn't go there before, we just never decided to until now."

January 20, 2006 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how much does transparent aluminum cost?

March 20, 2008 8:05 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Ever heard the phrase "If you have to ask, you can't afford it"?

March 20, 2008 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was Transparent Alumina, not Aluminum. If you knew anything about materials, you'd know the big difference.

November 16, 2009 4:27 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Actually asshole, I know plenty about materials, having taken close to 40 credit hours in materials courses over the years and having been intimately involved with welding and corrosion issues in the oilfield engineering field. Yes I KNOW it is alumina, the joke was that it was a famous line from Star Trek and BTW THEY knew it wasn't pure aluminum either.

November 16, 2009 5:10 PM  

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