Arts/Literature

What's it Wednesday

by Dawn Farmer

Game on

24 replies »

  1. The mundane answer is soap on a washcloth. But I’m sure I’ll think of the REAL answer in a bit. Stuck in grant writing mode today, though, so it might be a while.

  2. Good luck with the grant, Michael. I can see from your website how hard it is securing them.

  3. @Russ, Yeah. I didn’t post it yet, but NASA just turned me down for my last space shuttle proposal, too. I was one of five that got to where I was, but I didn’t make the final cut. :-/ I’m still waiting on the review. Funny thing is, we got the acceptance letter for the third publication describing our immune work from the LAST shuttle experiment on the same day. I haven’t decided if that was irony or coincidence. 🙂

  4. Hey! I figured it out! That’s my brain after spending weeks to months writing one of these stupid grants only to get a one page “we regret to inform you” rejection letter! Hah! Nah. That one was way too easy, too. I’ll keep thinking.

  5. Ooooh darn! Ubertramp beat me. I too think its an old piece of soap on a washcloth. However, my immediate thought was a french fry. I’m still going with soap, though . . .

  6. A new winner this week – Tired and Dirty ( btw that’s a great name) – it’s soap on a washcloth.

    Ubertramp sorry about the rejection letter 😦 here’s hoping the universe has some other wonderful surprise in store for you to make up for it.

    Maureen – I recently did photograph packing peanuts, but they were so obvious I thought there was no sport in it!

    Be well everyone – back to work for me.

  7. Jesus soap on a rope?

    I was thinking about going into a whole Fight Club scenario, but I keep getting distracted by my grant proposal. :-/ Besides, I don’t see Dawn really gettin into that sorta thing.

  8. No fight club for me – complete softie…I’ll leave the arguing to Sam 🙂

    Ann, you’re far to fabulous for that picture!

  9. I was actually talking about the part where they were making soap out of a rather unique source of…um…ingredients. 🙂

  10. .Thanks Dawn. I like your photography.
    gotta be beginners luck…
    the name results from the fact that it takes an inordinate amount of time watching odd bits of soap age until they resemble the water wrinkled forefinger of a tiny ancient man … i couldn’t sleep or wash for ages keeping track of that soap.

  11. t&d – it does look like a water wrinkled old finger… cool.

    Thanks for the kind word – be sure to visit us all again. 🙂

  12. I apologize for my report coming in a bit late. I was caught up in paperwork hell. That’s the price I have to pay for working with anonymous government contacts.

    However, the delay did allow me to spend more time figuring out just what this picture represents. Now that I have done so, I completely understand Dr. Slammy’s incredulous response to my previous suggestions. It is not, as I and others stated, soap. Indeed, it is quite the opposite. It’s sludge. Let me explain.

    The TI has invested heavily in biofilm research. Particularly in the area of bioengineered materials processing. One such project involves using the waste products of bacteria to generate construction materials. Essentially, genetically engineered bacteria are incubated on a collagen scaffolding matrix in giant, environmentally controlled vats. As they grow, the bacteria attach to the matrix and secrete a variety of interesting byproducts as a consequence of “normal” metabolism. These byproducts include biometallics, biomagnetics, and bioplastics.

    The type of material generated is, of course, dependent on the intended use. For example, a simple thing like a starship hull requires that the material must be strong enough to handle the impact of small meteorites, but also able to conduct electricity for the purposes of generating radiation shields, and flexible enough to compensate for thermal and gravitational expansion.

    To achieve this level multifunctionality, the TI use a process known as “bacterial layering,” which ultimately results in a composite material resembling plywood or fiberglass. The major difference being a matter of scale (i.e. microfilaments, nanotubes, and picomatrices rather than of woodpulp or glass thread). The first layer of bacteria is allowed to grow on the collagen scaffolding for about three days before the material is washed in an acid bath and sterilized. Then, the next layer of bacteria is allowed to grow for another three days. And so on, until the material requirements are met. Thickness, conductivity, etc. Ultimately, the TI will move this entire operation into an orbiting facility to minimize the flaws due to gravity-dependent mixing.

    Sometimes, as is the case in generating microprocessor chips, each layer is “etched” with superconducting ceramics or metallics. For other materials, each layer is sanded and scrapped to remove any imperfections in the surface, much like the lenses in very large optical telescopes (think Hubble). The result is the “sludge” in Dawn’s picture.

    • I started to say that you’re truly a man ahead of your time. Then I realized that what I meant to say is that it’s truly time for you to take your meds.