Thursday, July 30, 2009

Transparent Aluminum

Those of us who understand the True and Secret Star Trek History of The World also understand that transparent aluminum first appeared at a small manufacturing company in San Francisco in the early 1990s. In some (very confused) accounts, credit for the transparent aluminum process is sometimes attributed to a Professor Montgomery Scott of Edinburgh. However, no such individual with such knowledge of materials science was at the University of Edinburgh, or for that matter, in Scotland during the relevant time period.

Now, nearly twenty years later, reports that transparent aluminum was created by bombarding aluminum with a high intensity x-ray laser, causing an electron to be simultaneously knocked out of every aluminum atom in the sample, without disrupting the crystalline structure. You can think of this as the atomic equivalent of whipping a table cloth off the table so quickly and deftly that none of the place settings are affected.

According to the researchers, this is an exotic state of matter never before observed. It is as if all the aluminum atoms were suddenly changed to silicon, at least with respect to their electron properties. As you might expect, this state of matter was very unstable and fleeting.

It is possible that further work with this may provide some insight into the physics of planetary cores, stellar interiors,or nuclear fusion.

I, however, want transparent aluminum for viewports on the hull of my starship.

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