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Fighting Fires With Beams of Electricity

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the don't-cross-the-obvious-movie-quotes dept.

Science 137

cylonlover writes "It's certainly an established fact that electricity can cause fires, but a group of Harvard scientists have presented their research on the use of electricity for fighting fires. In a presentation at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Dr. Ludovico Cademartiri told of how they used a unique device to shoot beams of electricity at an open flame over one foot tall. Almost immediately, he said, the flame was extinguished. 'Such a device could be used, for instance, to make a path for firefighters to enter a fire or create an escape path for people to exit, he said. The system shows particular promise for fighting fires in enclosed quarters, such as armored trucks, planes, and submarines.'"

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Who you gonna call? (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649410)

Not another obvious joke, the fire department of course! Now with laser beams that are not attached to sharks!

Re:Who you gonna call? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649632)

I'm sure they'll love it, because walking through "beams of electricity" [which I must assume would commonly be known as "bolts of lightning"] instead of fire.

Re:Who you gonna call? (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649760)

I think this will probably end up like "Electric Avenue" from Jackass 3D. But with bonus fire. Awesome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vJjBNNVOZ4 [youtube.com]

Re:Who you gonna call? (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650650)

I hereby announce my invention of the fire-fighting Tesla Coil Hat, which is also a terrific chick magnet at parties. Here at the Gizmonic Institute we are two steps closer to the future than you are. Now I have to go and ready my device for the Invention Exchange. Frank? Where's my Electric Jock Strap?

Re:Who you gonna call? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652038)

Another category of civil servant that you have to tell 'Don't tase me, bro!' when they are coming to your house.

Re:Who you gonna call? (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652276)

I'm gonna call Lord Palpatine [whatjailislike.com] for sure.

Re:Who you gonna call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35652812)

What would happen if they cross the beams?

Submarines... (1, Funny)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649414)

So your submarine is on fire, burning up your oxygen, underwater, while you're, say, launching nuclear missiles and being pursued by enemy subs, and your solution is to electrify it?

Awesome. All your base...

Re:Submarines... (2)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649542)

Woo! Time to submit my patent to the PTO:
"Description of Selachimorpha-mounted Electrical Fire Suppression Systems"

Re:Submarines... (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652348)

"Cademartiri envisions that futuristic electrical devices based on the phenomenon could be fixed on the ceilings of buildings or ships, similar to stationary water sprinklers now in use."

Hey don't smoke that in here, you might set off th.... burbleburbleburble!

Re:Submarines... (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35653660)

Capt. Nemo would approve.

I saw a movie once... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649458)

... about this "Ludovico technique." It didn't end well.

logical next step: firesabers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649478)

Please oh please.

"beams of electricity"? (3, Interesting)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649508)

Like streams of electrons or ions?

Re:"beams of electricity"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649550)

No, magic!

Re:"beams of electricity"? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649580)

Like streams of electrons or ions?

No, protons baby! Using those has certain... fringe benefits.

Re:"beams of electricity"? (3, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649724)

Like streams of electrons or ions?

No, positrons baby! Using those definitely has certain... fringe benefits.

FTFY

Re:"beams of electricity"? (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650036)

Comon, proton packs would be awesome.

It has the added benefit of the fire department also being able to reconcile poltergeist infestations.

Re:"beams of electricity"? (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651378)

Protons are ions. :p

Re:"beams of electricity"? (1)

Cogita (1119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652364)

No, protons baby! Using those has certain... fringe benefits.

Like that they could yell, "fire the proton torpedoes!" when they get to the emergency?

Re:"beams of electricity"? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35653556)

That would be mixing memes, they are photon torpedos (torpedos of light?)

Re:"beams of electricity"? (1)

Slutticus (1237534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649642)

Most likely photons and other various bosons

Never slime a guy with a positron collider

And never cross the streams. Or was it don't feed them after midnight? Fuck!

Re:"beams of electricity"? (2)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649782)

No, more like "I'm not an actual scientist, and possibly not even a good journalist, so rather than explain what these scientists are really working on, I'll just say 'beams of electricity' to sound all good and technical. My editor won't know the difference any better than me."

"It's certainly an established fact that electrici (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649520)

"It's certainly an established fact that electricity can cause fires" - is it?

Re:"It's certainly an established fact that electr (2)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649602)

All they had to do was reverse the polarity!

It's so simple!

Re:"It's certainly an established fact that electr (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651206)

I think it's an oscillating field, so reversing the polarity already happens.

Now, if they'd only re-routed power through the deflector dish...

Re:"It's certainly an established fact that electr (1)

lazy genes (741633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652686)

new setting for a phaser kill,stun,extinguish. Dont cross the streams.

Anyone have any idea how it works? (4, Informative)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649522)

Anyone have any idea how this thing actually works?

The best I could come up with is based on a very small part of the article:

But how does it work? Cademartiri acknowledged that the phenomenon is complex with several effects occurring simultaneously. Among these effects, it appears that carbon particles, or soot, generated in the flame are key for its response to electric fields. Soot particles can easily become charged. The charged particles respond to the electric field, affecting the stability of flames, he said.

So I guess what happens is that the electrical field charges the soot and other light carbony things generated in the fire, which causes them to disperse sort of like what happens with this toy [thinkgeek.com] ? How does that help extinguish the fire, though? Wouldn't the outward motion of the carbon particulates just bring in more oxygen?

What other effects are going on?

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (3, Interesting)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649648)

Perhaps the dispersion of the combustible particles disrupts the fuel/air mixture and halts combustion? It's a stretch but I guess possible. From what I learned in Hazmat class some years ago, you extinguish fire by depriving it of one of the following: Heat, Oxygen, or Fuel. Every extinguishing material does one or more.

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651126)

By Hazmat class, did you mean in grade school? The "fire triangle" is taught to 11 year olds in the UK.

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651270)

It's a Fire Quadrangle. The fourth point is Chemical Reaction. Halon systems work from this angle. It doesn't deprive the fire of oxygen, it disrupts the oxidation process itself. Sounds like this magnetic beam does this also, in a different way.

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35652476)

Still a triangle. That's just another way to deprive fuel.

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (1)

Scatterplot (1031778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652836)

It's actually a Fire Tetrahedron, but the other dimension is pretty obscure, you probably haven't heard of it.

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35653602)

Only Vapors Burn 1947 Chemistry of Fire US War Department

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFPs4xsED74

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649678)

Could be the creation of ozone smothers it. Does the field actually ionize air?

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649926)

At http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/28/6362578-fight-fire-with-a-magic-wand was a small statement that helped me wrap my head around this a lot better: "By applying oscillating fields, the effect was much, much larger"

Usually this type of thing would be picked up by mainstream media long after technical papers have been written, but in this case the article says they're still 6 months or more away from understanding it well enough to write papers about it.

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649932)

The article was almost totally information-free. And journalists wonder why the respect they get from society ranks somewhere between that given to prostitutes and trial lawyers.

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649954)

I'll guess:

First thing that comes to mind is "ion wind" [wikipedia.org] . As air ions are usually for the most part consisting of clusters of water molecules [ce-mag.com] , ion wind should have cooling effect. The second thing is repelling the oxygen by electrifying the flames with negative charge. However, TA mentions "waves", so perhaps it is all about inducing instability, breaking the convective circulation, dispersing the flames to lower the temperature bellow ignition point ...

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649968)

Who'd think that EM fields can affect the distribution of an ionized gas. You know, flames being combustion products in that plasma state or whatever.

A wild guess would say it's doing something to valence electrons in vaporized fuel so that it doesn't readily react with oxygen.

Now I'm just waiting for some firefighter to say "Got juice? Aaaaayyy!"

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35650086)

Fire's an ongoing dynamic process. Using electrical fields to temporarily disrupt it puts several parts of the process on hold, potentially damping the fire. At that point, conditions would have to be right for it to spontaneously restart.

That latter part is the reason why I'm dubious that this would be of much use beyond as a parlor trick. Conditions are almost always right for a major fire, and existing extinguishing methods are probably superior (at least adequate and easier to bottle) for a minor fire. Still, neat trick, and maybe I'm wrong.

Some idea (4, Informative)

dackroyd (468778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650616)

Flames are ionised (i.e. charged) particles. If you have a strong enough electric field (which is really not the same as 'shooting electricity' as per the article) when the charged particles move through the electric field there will be a force on them perpendicular to their motion and to the field i.e. the flame will curve over into spiral.

If you could get this to happen on a large enough scale, the flame would suppress itself as instead of the flame moving away from the fuel it would hang around - stopping oxygen from reaching the fuel.

If this all sounds really unlikely, that's because it is. Here it a video showing an electric field affecting a small candle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fKGeV4NrrA&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL [youtube.com]

It looks like you need an electric field on the order of 10keV per 5cm to get this effect. So if you wanted to do it on a fire that was say 5 meters across you'd need an electric field in the order of 1MV which while obtainable is not exactly an easy thing to setup - particularly when there's a fire going on.

Re:Some idea (2)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651310)

Flames are ionised (i.e. charged) particles. If you have a strong enough electric field (which is really not the same as 'shooting electricity' as per the article) when the charged particles move through the electric field there will be a force on them perpendicular to their motion and to the field i.e. the flame will curve over into spiral.

If you could get this to happen on a large enough scale, the flame would suppress itself as instead of the flame moving away from the fuel it would hang around - stopping oxygen from reaching the fuel.

If this all sounds really unlikely, that's because it is. Here it a video showing an electric field affecting a small candle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fKGeV4NrrA&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL [youtube.com]

It looks like you need an electric field on the order of 10keV per 5cm to get this effect. So if you wanted to do it on a fire that was say 5 meters across you'd need an electric field in the order of 1MV which while obtainable is not exactly an easy thing to setup - particularly when there's a fire going on.

And yet, according to TFA, the researchers were able to extinguish a foot-high flame (presumably fed via compressed gas of some sort) with only a 600 watts of electricity AND they suspect they could do it with much less.

In the new study, they connected a powerful electrical amplifier to a wand-like probe and used the device to shoot beams of electricity at an open flame more than a foot high. Almost instantly, the flame was snuffed out. Much to their fascination, it worked time and again.

The device consisted of a 600-watt amplifier, or about the same power as a high-end car stereo system. However, Cademartiri believes that a power source with only a tenth of this wattage could have similar flame-suppressing effect. That could be a boon to firefighters, since it would enable use of portable flame-tamer devices, which perhaps could be hand-carried or fit into a backpack.

I'm not saying your calculation is wrong, but it certainly diverges dramatically from the information supplied in TFA. (What little there is.) If the researcher is correct, then we are looking at a device potentially as low-powered as a 60 watt electric amplifier. That's small enough to be handheld. If you add some 12v LiPo batteries to supply short term power you are looking at a large but still manageable backpack-sized unit. (Note: it doesn't have to be LiPo, but they have the best weight to power density ratio of any easily commercially available battery, and can be made in any shape, in quantity.) Sounds VERY doable to me. Assuming the research pans out, of course.

Re:Some idea (1)

dackroyd (468778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651526)

And yet, according to TFA, the researchers were able to extinguish a foot-high flame (presumably fed via compressed gas of some sort) with only a 600 watts of electricity AND they suspect they could do it with much less.

Watts != voltage differential

If there is no electricity being carried then a small power supply can build up an almost arbitrarily high electric field, until it either either arcs or the electric field becomes strong enough to start electrons streaming from it as an ion wind.

foot-high flame (presumably fed via compressed gas of some sort)

That sounds like it could have been a bunsen burner - i.e. the flame could still have just been a centimeter or two across, which is a much easier fire to deal with that a wide fire. In fact you could probably put that flame out by just licking your thumb and sticking it over the fuel source.

Re:Some idea (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651578)

You may very well be correct. But then, that is what research is for, isn't it?

Re:Some idea (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652440)

I shadowed a couple of firefighter trainees while working on some promotional materials for a large city fire department. One of the things I went with them on was a hot room exercise where everyone got geared up, entered a room, and the trainer cranked up some truly massive flames. The point of this was to show you how much heat the protective gear could take and what exactly happened when it took too much. Anyway, cool story short, we melted a few fire helmet visors and there is no damn way that a system with a LiPo battery could survive that sort of heat. You do know what happens to LiPo batteries when they get hot, right?

Re:Some idea (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35653542)

Which is why I said that it doesn't have to be a LiPo. I know their drawbacks, I use them regularly. That said, Insulation and basic liquid cooling would be helpful in staving off overheating.

The use for a man-carried device would be limited anyway. It is doubtful a firefighter would want to carry ANY large battery pack into a raging inferno. The application would more likely be from an initial approach vector. IE: Start outside the fire and bore a pathway into it for a short distance, much like they do with an extinguisher and an axe now.

Re:Some idea (1)

Manywele (679470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651982)

Flames are ionised (i.e. charged) particles. If you have a strong enough electric field (which is really not the same as 'shooting electricity' as per the article) when the charged particles move through the electric field there will be a force on them perpendicular to their motion and to the field i.e. the flame will curve over into spiral.

That's for a magnetic field. Charged particles move along the direction of electric fields.

Electric and magnetic field confused (4, Informative)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652704)

Sir,

    You have electric and magnetic fields confused with each other. If you have a MAGNETIC FIELD, when charged particles move across (NOT along) it, there is a force on them perpendicular to their motion (and to the field, incidentally).

    In an electric field, the force on the charged particle depends on the orientation of the electric field, not on the orientation of the charged particle's momentum.

    I refer you to the Lorentz equation, which goes like this:
F = q (E + V cross B)
where capital letters denote vector quantities and "cross" is the cross-product operator. As you can see, the force from the electric field (q times E) is parallel to E. The force from the magnetic field (q V cross B) is perpendicular to both the magnetic field and the particle's velocity.

    I'm not sure whether the rest of your explanation holds water--when you have a rapidly changing electric field it is accompanied by a magnetic field, which WILL curve particles like you say. In fact, when you have both, you have what is called an "E cross B" drift, in which charged particles have a motion perpendicular to both the E and the B field. (Is that what you meant?)

And yes, IAAP.

--PeterM

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (1)

AB3A (192265) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650880)

A diode can be constructed by trying to pass a small current through a probe in the flame. This diode is caused by the movement of ions through the flame area. However, I wonder what would happen if you tried to pass a larger current through the flame? Might it be able to temporarily neutralize or bind the ions to other molecules? If it did that, would you still have a flame?

I don't know. I'm just speculating.

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652438)

A diode can be constructed by trying to pass a small current through a probe in the flame. This diode is caused by the movement of ions through the flame area. However, I wonder what would happen if you tried to pass a larger current through the flame? Might it be able to temporarily neutralize or bind the ions to other molecules? If it did that, would you still have a flame?

I don't know. I'm just speculating.

Do you mean that while the probe is in the flame current will flow through it in one direction but not the other, or that the act of putting it in the flame and running current through it will cause it to have the properties of a diode after it has been removed from the flame? Your use of the word "constructed" has me unsure.

Of what is this probe made? Is it U-shaped? (current can't just go to end of conductor and stop, it has to get back to its point of origin)

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35651614)

The best part of that link is in the description"

 

Powered by static electricity, aka "science"

Re:Anyone have any idea how it works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35652416)

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2011/3/29/electrical-flame-field-scientists/

Gasoline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649524)

So does this mean the best way to keep gasoline from catching fire is to throw electrical sparks at it?

Re:Gasoline (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649680)

I hear if you do something like that they give you this cool award named after that evolution dude. Go for it man!

Re:Gasoline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35652418)

Ok, done. I went outside and started my gasoline powered lawn mower. Now where to I go to collect this award you spoke of and how much money will I be receiving?

Firefighters are usually wet. (2)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649530)

Water dripping off you, down your neck, sliding around in foam and soaked to the skin kind of wet. You could pee your pants and know one would even know, except for the funny coffee smell, kind of wet. The fist thing that happens is utilities disconnect the gas and power meter before anyone enters the structure (power and water don't mix). Never mind the Scott packs. Now water around your feet and a battery strapped to your back where do you put your Scott pack? Also your gear already weighs about 60 pounds with Scot pack. This is stupid we already have a grenade like device that will snuff out a fully engulfed house for 12 minutes the only side effect is a fine white powder on everything.

Re:Firefighters are usually wet. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650098)

we already have a grenade like device that will snuff out a fully engulfed house for 12 minutes the only side effect is a fine white powder on everything.

Is the device called Charlie Sheen?

It's called Charlie Sheen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35650212)

It is now

no, it *is* Charlie Sheen (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650992)

but it's called WINNING.

Re:Firefighters are usually wet. (2)

icebrain (944107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650748)

Not all of use use Scott packs... ours are MSA.

Second, please give me more information about this "grenade like device that will snuff out a fully engulfed house", because I'm sure our chief would like to buy a case or three of them to try out. It would make things a lot easier if all we had to do was lob a grenade into a house instead of humping a bunch of hose.

To get back on subject, this technology doesn't appear to do anything to cool the heated gases down, put out smoldering embers, get rid of smoke or prevent reignition (or backdraft/flashover). Putting the flame out is great, but without adequate ventilation and some means to cool the surroundings, you're not doing too much for the people inside. Everything else will still have to be done the old way.

Re:Firefighters are usually wet. (1)

dredwerker (757816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651240)

Not all of use use Scott packs... ours are MSA.

Second, please give me more information about this "grenade like device that will snuff out a fully engulfed house", because I'm sure our chief would like to buy a case or three of them to try out. It would make things a lot easier if all we had to do was lob a grenade into a house instead of humping a bunch of hose.

To get back on subject, this technology doesn't appear to do anything to cool the heated gases down, put out smoldering embers, get rid of smoke or prevent reignition (or backdraft/flashover). Putting the flame out is great, but without adequate ventilation and some means to cool the surroundings, you're not doing too much for the people inside. Everything else will still have to be done the old way.

A quick google and I wonder if it's these stat X grenades. Every house should have some. http://www.jhcfirestopbuyamericanmaterials.com/stat-xgrenade.html [slashdot.org] ">

Re:Firefighters are usually wet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35653184)

I believe I read an article about the grenades in Firehouse a couple months ago. The grenades have only been tested in specific situations. You will have to find the article. I can't remember all it entailed.

Re:Firefighters are usually wet. (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650874)

Except if firefighters use electricity instead of water to extinguish the flames, they won't be wet. Fire trucks seem like good places to keep a large mobile battery, or a capacitor for recharging from power lines nearby the disconnected building, or a transformer while the building is disconnected. Or maybe buildings will have fire suppression power equipment installed that uses this electric effect.

The point is that electricity replaces water, so they don't have to mix.

REALLY want video! (4, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649546)

If there's a story that is crying out for some audio-visual documentation, this had got to be it!

I mean electricity and fire (and maybe they use a laser to create an ionized channel for the electricity to go through).

Magnesium (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649566)

If they can put out a magnesium fire with this device then I will be impressed. I would also like to see it tested in a room full of hydrogen/oxygen mix.

Re:Magnesium (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649756)

It probably wouldn't work, based on the few details in TFA. It seems that key to this technique is the effect on soot particles, which aren't present in neither magnesium/oxygen or hydrogen/oxygen fires. Soot particles are what makes the flames visible, so this seems to work only on fires with visible flames.

Re:Magnesium (3, Interesting)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649810)

Let's see them take on a metal-fluoride fire! For those, I've always recommended a good pair of running shoes.

why not 'adjust' the 'weather' with 750k A? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649594)

definitely slow down a big crowd? stop starting fires? the required downward A is much less to be shaken (&/or stirred?)? yikes. the walking dead talknicians on the news were trench warn (bloody nails). their voices have changed,, again. the urgency of not waiting to see the images is rising? the images/data we've (all of us) seen already are more than prosecutable. wrong images? we'll wait? fauxking fatal theater of the damned? no thanks. disarm

giving fake 'science' it's day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649660)

obviously, all them jules is rearranging the oxygen thereabouts, sucking the wind out/or away from the blaze. & the juice will dissipate as well. electric backdraft? pure genius? some of the bips could do it without a gadget? now that's meeting the need? stop starting fires?

'correct' amount of carbon stops any thriviality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649736)

that's exactly like putting depleted fire on the fire? the 'correct' amount, not already on fire, not only might not ignite, but could extinguish us all? after the .5 billion population is re-established, there'll be better order, less fires, (put the less fires out with buckets of radioactive water/homer drinking it,,,,) so that's good?

in some buybulls the sky goes on fire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649890)

so they're all not completely free of hot air. there's evidence that we're (body, mind & spirit) biologically near perfect, & improving.

however, it is now still unclear as to weather or not some of the profitseized holycost in the 'new' buybull, are really deity related, although millions are attributing our difficulties to truly imaginary characters, which let's a lot of real time death peddlers 'off the hook' & leaves same maintaining our unwitting, or fear based (-e) support?

tell the babys?

Fire, Schmire ! (2)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649622)

Who cares about putting out the fire... I just want the Lightning Cannon.

Evil Overlord Notice #1 : Discontinue Operation : Weaponize Shark immediately.
Evil Overlord Notice #2 : The Commissary of Evil will be serving fish sticks all week.

Don't cross the beams... (1)

PureRain (231574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649656)

"Shooting beams of electricity" sounds like Ghostbusters, not real world physics.

DARPA Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35649766)

http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/DSO/Programs/Instant_Fire_Suppression_(IFS).aspx

Birthday party fun... (2)

Polo (30659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649922)

This would be a fun way of extinguishing the candles on your birthday cake...

Might even work with those "prankster" candles that relight ... :)

Re:Birthday party fun... (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35653094)

yeah, that'll shut the little buggers up.

Meddling with forces they cannot possibly control. (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650020)

With technologies such as these, we will take over ze world! Also - did they have to use a UV high power laser to allow the air to make a plasma conductor conduit? That always spoils my zappers as the mill spec. capacitors wind up being to huge - air's practically coloress to UV so go figure ... Now how did ID Software do theirs? Hmmm...

Using calcium? (1)

greycortex (600578) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650056)

I know that calcium was instrumental in the development of imcimal baratilam [youtube.com] .

Why does it work? (1)

skeffstone (1299289) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650070)

I'm not feeling very competent, but:

a) Soot particles aggregate, lowering their surface-to-volume ratio, shutting down the combustion, or
b) Soot particles escape the plasma, shutting down combustion, or
c) Electron flow from the gun interferes with the combustion reaction itself, which would be awesome

deities implicated/engaged in holycost, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35650096)

saw it on o.rile.me. wouldn't we know, the two most awesome fearsome chosen ones are now enemies in a death swath over women's rights?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtvG59VckEc&feature=player_embedded

disarm. stop facading the motives of your massacres. life is inseparable

other eunuch like sub-gods taking sides? yikes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35650370)

& it could be that the unproven aliens have hymens (not likely)? so, if there's only .25 billion of us left (by mistake, honest), there'll still never be enough leisurely pleasure seeking to be done by the victorious (again) chosen ones, as it was written? fortunately (according to unbiblical rantings of the unchosen humans), there's also wildcard physical possibilities unexpected but well intended. it can already be felt by even the least sensitive of us, in between all the shaking & exploding. in spite of ourselves. feels like we were all chosen? hard to separate? not designed to kill or be killed.

0329 (1)

hqrdqa1 (1091885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650104)

Cool!

Beams of electricity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35650132)

And what the hell are beams of electricity?

Give it a chance guys! (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650342)

Come on! Fire, water, and now beams of electricity! What could happen! [scrapetv.com]

Finally, (1)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650504)

The police and fireman can share a tool, a tazer doubles as a fire extinguisher!

Great. I'm looking forward to.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35650578)

being automatically electrocuted every time I burn the toast.

Seen this technology before! (2)

SirLoadALot (991302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650610)

Danilo Odell: Yeah, what the hell was that thing?
Lieutenant Worf: Automated fire system. A force field contains the flame until the remaining oxygen has been consumed.
Danilo Odell: Ah, yeah, w-what if I had been under that thing?
Lieutenant Worf: You would have been standing in the fire.
Danilo Odell: Yeah, well, leaving that aside for the moment, I mean, what would have happened to me?
Lieutenant Worf: You would have suffocated and died.
Danilo Odell: Ye-ah, sweet mercy.

After a few hours, all the jokes are taken! (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650742)

No wait! DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS!!!!! Give me a break. "Beams of electricity"? Could have been described in a more Slashdot-friendly way. Maybe "Bolts of Karma".

If this were a 1930s pulp magazine story (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650872)

the next thing is that the brilliant doctor would be kidnapped by the evil Fu-Ling, who would use the invention to down airplanes by inhibiting their internal combustion engines. Fortunately the hero's plane is atomic powered.

What the hey? (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35650950)

in enclosed quarters, such as armored trucks

This must occur more often than I realize.

Re:What the hey? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35652516)

That was my first reaction as well. Seriously, are armored truck fires that common? Do money and gold spontaneously combust that often?

Ghost Busters? (1)

Tasha26 (1613349) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651302)

Surely such powers cannot be trusted in the hands of muggles, esp. war mongering ones who will turn anything and everything into military research.

icon (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651588)

While you used Einstein as the 'icon' for this article, Tesla would have been more on target here.

Er... (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35651708)

On the face of it, I can't imagine that firemen would be really pleased at this.

Let's see we have fire, smoke, water, (and in the examples they gave) all-metal vehicles. Let's toss in some high-voltage electricity?

Best use of this physics ever! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35652084)

Firebirds is an impressive artwork by Paul DeMarinis exploiting the effect of an electric field on fire recreating speech and bird songs. Check it out and mod this up!

http://www.directions.jp/airartlog/flv/AAL003/003-03.html
http://www.ljudmila.org/~luka/demarinis/demarinis-firebirds.ogg

far freakin' out! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652172)

We really do live in the frickin' future .

Maybe a legitimate patent, for a change? (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35652850)

It strikes me that this could be one of the FEW inventions that are actually worthy of a patent.

Also, I wonder how scalable this technology is. The explicitly say in the article that this wouldn't work well for a forest fire: why not?

Another thing I wonder is this: if you put out a fire with water, you cool down the stuff that's burning as well as removing oxygen. If your new flame suppressor is applied to a hot pile of, say, burning wood, the flame may go away as long as it's pointed at it, but wouldn't it burst into flames again immediately upon removing the suppressor beam, or even explode due to a build-up of combustible vapors?

Best,

--PeterM

Awesome (1)

twofidyKidd (615722) | more than 3 years ago | (#35653476)

It's just like an evil Italian scientist to bring a Tesla coil to a firefight.

Popular Mechanics? (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 3 years ago | (#35653496)

This sounds like a Popular Mechanics article from the 1930's. "Fighting Fires With Beams Of Electricity -- From Zeppelins!"

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