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Small Change, and Other Physics Fun

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the physics-is-phun dept.

Science 310

fishy jew writes "Ever want an easy way to make your 'small change' even smaller? Well, Bert Hickman has it - mix a home-brewed machine, 6.5 kiloJoules, and 100,000 Amps of current! On his website, he has descriptions and pictures of his many exploits with large quantities of electricity, notably including shrinking coins, building a Tesla coil, creating Lichtenberg figures (chaotic sculpture), and more! He has extensively outlined the equipment, procedure, and results for each of his experiments, and included many pretty pictures, too. Here are Google caches for when the site gets /.'ed: Main Page, Shrinking Coins, Tesla Coil, and Lichtenberg Figures."

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I own one of these coins... very cool (4, Informative)

Punchinello (303093) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617698)

I bought a shrunken Sacagawea Dollar from this site in May, 2003 (around the same time my Slashdot story submission about the site was rejected). The coin is truly amazing to look at and a hit at parties. The details of Sacagawea and the Eagle are perfect, only smaller (although the coin itself has a bit of an uneven surface caused by the rapid shrinking process). I'm happy to see the site finally get the news for nerds treatment it deserves.

There is a cool Popular Science article [popsci.com] for more information.

Now go buy some coins to fund Bert's efforts!

Re:I own one of these coins... very cool (1, Offtopic)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617718)

That's one way to be a hit at a party. The other way is to bring good drugs. They're both cool.

-B

Unsurprisingly (-1, Flamebait)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617757)

Since the site is running IIS it should come as no surprise to know that the site is dead. Too bad the pictures aren't in the cache.

Re:I own one of these coins... very cool (5, Funny)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617916)

They should name these coins after George Bushes fiscal advisors.

PC Magazine Confirms It!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617956)

PC Magazine confirms it - Linux is dying!!!

Linux Will Die

It's always hard to write an obituary, especially when the subject is still alive. It's especially hard for me, because I love the little guy like a brother. But, alas, Linux will die. I was one of the first reviewers to get my hands on an early Linux distro. I compared Linux with Windows, and although I really wanted to like Windows, Linux won my heart over.

It wasn't the cutesy mascot, although that helped. Rather, it was the over complexity and difficulty of use that even the first version evinced. And to top everything off, Linux came with the world's most rabid zealot following ever, even more astounding for such a fiendishly complex OS. Looking at the terminal, it was difficult to use, harder to understand, and a impossible to get installed.

The Wall Street Journal's arbiter of tech--Walt Mossberg--still thinks Windows was better, and we've argued over the brilliance of the desktop. But the acid test, for me, was when I plopped Linux down in front of my computer-averse wife. She spat at me. So much, in fact, that I soon started choking.

But Linux today has a problem--and it's not what you think. Most folks point to Linux's inability to convince consumers just how cool the product is and why they need one. Yes, it's hard to describe why a terminal is better than a GUI--until you use one. Give Linux to your friends for a month and they will hate you. Windows faces the same challenge, but that's not where the real threat lies.

Instead, a convergence of three separate trends is conspiring to kill off Linux.

So there it is

PC Magazine confirms it - LINUX IS DEAD!

Re:I own one of these coins... very cool (5, Interesting)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618043)

Yea I was going to submit it, but all my submissions get cancelled because I suck so I didn't even bother :)

For those who now can't get to the site: These coins are "shrunken" by being placed inside a wooden dowel, the dowel is then wrapped with electrical wire, and a ton of electricity is then discharged into the coil -- the resulting magnetic field deforms the coin (shrinks usually, but not always!), and causes the entire apparatus to explode :) Small shrinkings are done in blast chambers, larger ones have to be burried in a burm. Usually industrial capacitors provide power.

Re:I own one of these coins... very cool (1)

Merlin42 (148225) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618050)

Im pretty sure this has been on slashdot several times but I could only find one other:

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/02/21/1940 23 4

And.... the Poll of the Topic... (-1, Offtopic)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617700)

I Got the...

First Post! [calcgames.org]
Second Post. [calcgames.org]
Third Post... [calcgames.org]
Fourth Post... :( [calcgames.org]
Fifth Post....... [calcgames.org]
BLAH [calcgames.org]

Re:And.... the Poll of the Topic... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617721)

I can't believe you're wasting karma on promoting that shitty site..

Re:And.... the Poll of the Topic... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617743)

I can't believe you think karma is important...

first to post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617702)

first to post!

Maybe he should (5, Funny)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617711)

Have redirected some of that current into getting a more powerful network connection.

I'M PRETTY SURE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617712)

I JUST GOT FROSTY

TACO, IS HE GAY? OR IS HE JUST A MISUNDERSTOOD GENIUS?

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/TONGUE\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)___MY__|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\_BALLS/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

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Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Shrinking bandwidth (4, Funny)

carcosa30 (235579) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617713)

Apparently the slashdot effect is a kind of physics fun he didn't account for...

Re:Shrinking bandwidth (0, Offtopic)

Pumpernickle (720937) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617782)

Cheaper, too. Besides, you wouldn't believe the figures the cable for his connection starts making when he gets linked to from /. ^^

Re:Shrinking bandwidth (4, Funny)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618101)

Apparently the slashdot effect is a kind of physics fun he didn't account for...

With any luck, he'll be out partying tonight, getting smashed. Then he comes home completely toasted, and has to rebuild the server from the pile of smoke he finds in his server closet.

Hell is working on MS stuff drunk and plasted. You'll never know what will happen [ubersoft.net] [read the comics through to the end]

Google Cache? (5, Insightful)

ResQuad (243184) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617715)

Doesnt do anything, because it doesnt cache the pictures. And thats the largest problems of slashdoting. I think slashdot should try to temp mirror the pages for the first few hours it goes up, if its a small site.

Re:Google Cache? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617781)

To see check out auctions by him:

Here, [ebay.com] Here, [ebay.com] Here, [ebay.com] And Here [ebay.com]

Re:Google Cache? (4, Insightful)

La Camiseta (59684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617793)

This is exactly the reason that I think that Slashdot should put up some Freenet [freenetproject.org] mirrors. At least then, when there's a big rush of requests, the little site's servers wouldn't get the big hits, and the bandwidth would distribute itself out like BitTorrent.

Re:Google Cache? (5, Informative)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617953)

Check out these two posts on the topic of /.'ing small sites [slashdot.org] and why /. can't mirror sites [slashdot.org] , you may find them informative.

Jonah Hex

Re:Google Cache? (1, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618017)

Right, so that Slashdot can Slashdot itself. Recursion, anyone?

Google Image Cache (3, Informative)

YearOfTheDragon (527417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618026)

Google Image Cache [google.es] br

Hmm.. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617716)

I wonder how much I'd have to pay for an ad cleverly disguised as a slashdot main story.

drunk (-1, Offtopic)

cpeterso (19082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617717)


I am drunk. I am still at work. I am still coding. I'm about to check in. Please wish me luck! :)

Re:drunk haiku (-1, Offtopic)

cpeterso (19082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617773)


I am coding drunk.
I am about to check in.
Hope I don't fuck up.

IIS fails again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617719)

Looks like /. has proven once again that IIS just isn't up to the task of being a web server. pwned

Not a record, but... (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617724)

No posts yet, but already slashdotted.

Actually, though, I have seen his page before. really cool toys, but strikes me as something most of us would probably not want to play with.

Worry about the health risks of frequent cell phone use? Doesn't even come close to the RF this sucker puts off. Not to mention ozone and the very real risk of simple death from electrocution...

Re:Not a record, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617761)

That's ok, I saw the pictures year ago when this someone else like this was highlighted on Slashdot. You can find about six sites with people "shrinking" coins. I'd give a link, but you know why I don't.

Electrocution isn't the only danger. These things are explosive.

Re:Not a record, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617837)

I wish I'd remember to proof read more than twice.

Re:Not a record, but... (-1, Offtopic)

cmacb (547347) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617779)

Yeah, those homebrew IIS servers don't stand up to much traffic do they? :)

Re:Not a record, but... (1)

The-Dalai-LLama (755919) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617865)


From parent post:
but strikes me as something most of us would probably not want to play with.

Which may be why the page's warning takes up as much space as the page's main title.

From story (sort of):
"Ever want an easy way to make your 'small mind' even smaller? ... mix a home-brewed machine, 6.5 kiloJoules, and 100,000 Amps of current!

The Dalai Llama

Who learned at a very young age that stripping the cord from an old clock, plugging the cord into the wall, and touching the bare wires to both sides of a watch battery produces an amazing spectacle that will put one off of any later attempts at producing home-brewed mini-change.

Re:Not a record, but... (2, Funny)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617917)

I see he is using IIS. Poor guy. I think if the number of connections > 3 then that irritating microsoft 403.9 page gets spat out. grr

Re:Not a record, but... (4, Interesting)

PurpleFloyd (149812) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617971)

Why wouldn't I (and many other slashdotters) want to play with equipment like this? To me, the extremely slight risk of cancer caused by short, high-intensity broadband RF pulses is more than offset by the sheer coolness factor of playing with something like this - a little like a geekier form of "extreme sports," perhaps (God knows I already drink enough Mountain Dew).

Even without the coolness factor, though, the risks are still rather slight with some attention to safety.

Electrocution actually isn't much of a risk with many HV devices - most will destroy themselves (or run up against current limiters) far before they output anywhere near the 200-250 mA needed to stop the human heart. While a shock from a tesla coil or other HV device will hurt terribly and pose a risk of burns, it probably won't kill you. Although some devices designed to deliver a high voltage and high current pulse can be extremely dangerous, keeping aware of safety at all times and never using jury-rigged solutions can mean that even a seemingly dangerous activity like playing around with Tesla coils and coincrushers is fairly safe.

As for ozone, all that you have to do to eliminate most risk is to work outside or in a ventilated area, and not stay around areas where arcing has occured. It's certainly not more dangerous than spraypaint, at least in the quantities produced by most amateur experiments. Bottom line: it's reasonably safe and a lot of fun, so why not do it?

Re:Not a record, but... (3, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618055)

Not quite the same thing. The output of a Tesla coil is not in the band that ionizes living tissue (like, say a cell phone or a microwave oven in the 2.4 Ghz. range.) High-powered RF by itself is harmless enough: passes right through you. Generations of HAM operators have sat next to their transmitters with no ill effects.

There is relatively little risk of electrocution from a properly-tuned Tesla coil, although you could easily suffer a nasty RF burn if you're not careful (those take a long time to heal, for some reason.) Skin-effect keeps the current from passing through your body, but if the unit has low-frequency harmonics superposed upon the RF waveform you can get a nasty shock. I've experimented with Tesla coils (many years ago) and could stand there holding a sharp metal rod in one hand drawing a two foot arc to the discharge sphere. Scary as hell but lots of fun.

You are at far greater risk of electrocution from an electrostatic generator. A Van de Graaf or Wimshurst of even moderate size coupled with enough capacitance can kill you in an instant.

Slashdotted already... (-1, Redundant)

Rockenreno (573442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617729)

gar, too soon to be Slashdotted says I!

The server... (5, Funny)

Honig the Apothecary (515163) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617731)

is shrinking right now before you eyes with the application of millions of /.ers.

If it gets enough hits, will it become small enough to fit in a blade system?

-1 Fucking Redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618002)

Who cares if it has been said yet in response to this story, any joke about servers or bandwidth has been made at least 10,000 times before.

Please stop these jokes - really, I'm begging you.

ya know... (5, Interesting)

abscondment (672321) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617737)

tesla coils are really cool. a friend and i once took a 30,000 volt capacitor bank, a homemade tesla coil and a homemade spark gap and liquified my deodorant.

his garage smelled great for a few months.

also, any time we'd point the tesla coil towards his neighbors house, they'd lose TV reception.

Re:ya know... (1, Troll)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617766)

I can liquify deoderant with a 59 cent lighter. Good work.

-B

Re:ya know... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617855)

also, any time we'd point the tesla coil towards his neighbors house, they'd lose TV reception.

Bull. Tesla coils aren't that directional. Stop making stuff up and fix your fucking shift key.

Re:ya know... (1)

miryth (732380) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618076)

Stop insulting people randomly and fix your swearing problem. (meanie)

Physics (0, Redundant)

Casisiempre (691255) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617746)

In Physics news, Slashdot effect takes another site. On to other topics...

No pictures on google's cache (3, Informative)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617751)

If you want to see pictures of the shrunken coins..... try popular science - http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/article/0,125 43,490445,00.html

Re:No pictures on google's cache (3, Informative)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617760)

or here's a link without the space [popsci.com]

working link (4, Informative)

Nf1nk (443791) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617769)

for the love of god put in a working link [popsci.com]

Re:working link (1)

Mark J Tilford (186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617899)

slashdot puts in occasional spaces to prevent people from adding overwide lines to pages.

Re:working link (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617982)

You mean like this?

Hello, I'm WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW WIDE!
Yes, I'm WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW WIDE!
Very very WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW WIDE! So wonderfully, so fantabulously WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW WIDE!


Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.Your commeYour comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.nt has too few characters per line (currently 33.9).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 33.9).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 33.9).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too fewYour comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted. characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your commeYour comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.nt has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).

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Re:working link

Re:working link (Score:1)
by Mark J Tilford (186) on 09:46 PM March 19th, 2004 (#8617899)

slashdot puts in occasional spaces to prevent people from adding overwide lines to pages.

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New experiment... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617758)

Wonder if he can do the opposite with my...uhum...private parts?

Re:New experiment... (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617912)

You can do that with magnifying lens

Re:New experiment... (1, Funny)

Jorkapp (684095) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618000)

Obligatory Simpsons Quote

[Body Guard #1] Hey boss, we were just thinkin' of you.
[Quimby] You idiots! You're fired!
[Body Guard #1] Oh yeah. Then who will take a bullet for you?
[Body Guard #2] Or hook your genitals up to a car battery?
[Quimby] I'll tell you who. This man! (points to Homer)
[Homer] Woohoo!
[Marge] Homer, didn't you hear...
[Homer] (Interrupting) I said Woohoo.

Not a Mirror, But Related (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617759)

http://www.thegeekgroup.org/

These guys do a lot of the same stuff.

So.... why does this happen? (2, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617767)

Since the site is slashdotted to the ninth circle of hell and beyond, and the google cache links don't refer to any of the theory pages, would someone be willing to explain exactly how this works and why it happens?

Re:So.... why does this happen? (4, Interesting)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617810)

Electrons moving in a wire exert a magnetic force.

A lot of electrons moving in a wire exert a lot of magnetic force.

If you use coiled wires, you get a cylindrical magnetic field.

If you put a coin inside a coiled wire with a lot of electrons moving through it, it gets smooshed.

Re:So.... why does this happen? (1)

Jardine (398197) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617892)

I wonder what would happen if this was done to a Canadian 2 dollar coin (also known as a twonee). Instead of being made with a single metal (or a bunch of metals mixed together), this coin has two seperate sections. The middle is mostly copper and the outside ring is nickel

Re:So.... why does this happen? (1)

0x20 (546659) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617995)

American coins are sort of like this too [usmint.gov] - made of layers of differing metals or alloys. Quarters, nickels and dimes are pure copper inside, clad with a mixture of copper and nickel. Pennies are zinc plated with copper.

I think that there is enough space between the particles in the metals at the newtonian scale that there should be no significant size difference between two different metals being shrunk by this method. At the atomic or subatomic scale, there might be a measurable difference difference, but i doubt it would be enough to affect the bond between the outer ring and the center. But who knows? It would be an interesting experiment.

Re:So.... why does this happen? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618097)

Quarters, nickels and dimes are pure copper inside, clad with a mixture of copper and nickel. Pennies are zinc plated with copper.

What he's referring to looks rather different: twoonie image [currencymuseum.ca] (1 picture == 1kw). Basically, it's like there's an annular coin and a central coin inside it. Dunno if there's any way to separate them, short of dissolving one.

The first coin of this type that I saw was the late lamented 500-lira piece [eu.int] . Apparently the 1-euro and 2-euro coins are also like this, but I haven't handled either of them yet.

I think it looks kind of neat, but I don't mind the US not having one. We are very conservative with our currency design, and I like it that way.

I think that there is enough space between the particles in the metals at the newtonian scale that there should be no significant size difference between two different metals being shrunk by this method. At the atomic or subatomic scale, there might be a measurable difference difference, but i doubt it would be enough to affect the bond between the outer ring and the center.

You misunderstand what this process does. It squeezes the coin radially inward. It does not affect the density of the metal. (It is still an amazing thing of course.)

Re:So.... why does this happen? (1)

no longer myself (741142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618025)

I'll decent from the first reply... (no offense 0x20)

This is just a guess, but fromt he pop-sci article (link somewhere above) the image of the shrunken penny (US) was dramatic while the image of a nickle (US) was much less so. I'd hypothesis that the copper portion would shrink at a much higher rate and fall out of the center.

Then again, US coins aren't made of pure elements these days, so who can tell...

Re:So.... why does this happen? (2, Informative)

yo303 (558777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617828)

From PopSci [popsci.com] :

Bert's high-voltage equipment takes up most of his screened-in porch (from the looks of things, his wife drew a line at the sliding door?there's a clear border between tidy suburban house and chaotic suburban lab). Bert begins the coin-shrinking process by wrapping a quarter in copper wire and bolting the leads to copper bus bars, which are connected, by way of a triggered spark gap, to a 600-pound bank of 12,000-volt capacitors. A bulletproof blast shield encloses the coin and coil, and a high-voltage power supply charges up the capacitors. The only thing holding back the several thousand joules of energy stored in the capacitors is the tiny space between the spark gap's two brass discs.

Pressing a switch triggers the spark gap, which releases the entire charge through the coil in 25 millionths of a second. This creates a huge magnetic field, which induces a current and then a magnetic field inside the coin, which in turn pushes back against the field outside. The repulsion force between these two fields crushes the metal, instantly taking a quarter down to the size of a dime. A large amount of energy discharged in a short amount of time usually entails an explosion, and in this case the copper coil is blown apart with a brilliant flash and a satisfying bang. And, yes, the report is sharper than any drum, proving that you really can hit something as hard with magnetic force as you can with a drumstick.

yo.

Is this legit? (3, Interesting)

adept256 (732470) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617827)

Can't you get in trouble for monkeying with currency?

Very cool, though.

Re:Is this legit? (1)

hyu (763773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617879)

Never mind that. What's more important is figuring out how to keep track of your change when it gets that small. It's hard enough as it is.

Re:Is this legit? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617897)

No.

Re:Is this legit? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617944)

Not sure, though I know for a fact that you can get in trouble for applying current to a monkey.

Re:Is this legit? (1)

The-Dalai-LLama (755919) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617987)

From parent:
Can't you get in trouble for monkeying with currency?

This was discussed in an earlier thread about some guys that nuked a stack of $20's looking for RFID tags (though I'm having trouble finding the article) and IIRC, the topic is dicussed here [slashdot.org] , as well.

The Dalai Llama

"I write messages on money. Its my own form of social protest. A letter printed on paper that no one will destroy passed indiscriminately across race, class And gender lines And written in a blood that keeps the beast alive. A Quiet little hijacking on the way to the check-out counter And a Federal crime. I hope that someone will find my message one day when they really need it. You Are Not A Slave" - some guy on the liner notes for a Rage Against the Machine Album

Re:Is this legit? (3, Informative)

Peale (9155) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618061)

U.S. Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331: Prohibits among other things, fraudulent alteration and mutilation of coins. This statue does not, however, prohibit the mutilation of coins if done without fraudulent intent if the mutilated coins are not used fraudulently.

See http://www.pennysmasher.com/ [pennysmasher.com]

Re:Is this legit? (2, Informative)

ProKras (727865) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618078)

This stuff is covered in the US Code Title 18, Chapter 17 [cornell.edu] .

Companies selling souvenir penny-pressing machines [rockyrockholt.com] often cite Section 331, which says currency may not be defaced for fraudulant purposes. However, section 333 says that it is unlawful to alter the money "with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued." I suppose the shrunken coins would be "unfit to be reissued," but then again so would souvenir squished pennies.

How is this any different from say (2, Redundant)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617893)

PowerLabs? [powerlabs.org] .

Does the metal become more dense? (3, Interesting)

gopher_hunt (574487) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617898)

I don't understand where the metal goes. Do the coins weight the same before and after?
I was under the impression that most solids wouldn't compress this much.

Re:Does the metal become more dense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617989)

The coins do in fact weigh the same after the shrinking. They actually get a little fatter in the middle but with a smaller diameter. Take a look at one of his e-bay auctions [ebay.com] and he has a little explanation on there and a pic!

Re:Does the metal become more dense? (0)

JackpotMonkey (703880) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618006)

This would be somewhat similar to the pressures exerted onto a lump of coal to create diamons, every piece of matter has alot of airspace between its atoms, the great force created here is simply squeezing some of it out creating a denser object.

Re:Does the metal become more dense? (5, Informative)

eclectro (227083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618009)


What happens is the coin ends up _thicker_ than before. Because it is thicker, the coin in turn becomes smaller. The mass is indeed the same before and after.

There is no exotic atomic manipulation going on. Not that people have tried (aka alchemy).

Here are his ebay auctions [ebay.com]

Re:Does the metal become more dense? (1)

miryth (732380) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618085)

Hmm, alchemy... "Hey look, I turned this quarter into gold!" "Really? How much gold?" "Er, about 25 cents worth..."

Other links to shrunken coins (still up) (2, Informative)

ClockChaos (758432) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617910)



http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/article/0,1 25 43,490445,00.html

http://home.earthlink.net/~smalldollars/dollar/a dd 005.html

Shrinking the national debt... (4, Funny)

SmackCrackandPot (641205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617922)

With some slight modifications, this technique could be used to shrink the national debt.

Re:Shrinking the national debt... (4, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617948)

With some slight modifications, this technique could be used to shrink the national debt.

Only if you electrocute the politicians currently in office.

Re:Shrinking the national debt... (1)

jcuervo (715139) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618092)

With some slight modifications, this technique could be used to shrink the national debt.
Yeah, but you'd have to run 10,000 volts through George --
Only if you electrocute the politicians currently in office.
-- damn, beat me to it. :P

Re:Shrinking the national debt... (-1)

twoslice (457793) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618015)

I wondered where you got your handle from....

Maybe, Just maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617928)

he could apply this to the record holding 0.85 HD. Then the same drive could hold the smallest and second smallest records!!

How shrinking a quarter works (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8617935)

* Theory of Operation
* Results
* EM Field Theory and Wire Fragmentation?
* Isn't Defacing Money a Federal Crime?
* So Who Invented this Crazy Device?
* References

Theory of Operation:
The Quarter Shrinker uses a technique called high velocity electromagnetic metal forming, or "Magneforming". This technique was originally developed by the aerospace industry in conjunction with NASA, and has been popularized by Aerovox, Grumman, and Maxwell. It involves quickly discharging a high energy capacitor bank through a work coil to generate a very powerful and rapidly changing magnetic field which then "forms" the metal to be fabricated. While it works best with metals of relatively high electrical conductivity such as copper or aluminum alloys, it will work to a more limited extent with poorer conductors such as sheet steel.

In my current system, I charge up a large capacitor bank consisting of a number of large capacitors, each weighing about 165 pounds and about 30" high x 14" wide x 8" thick. A High Voltage relay is used to connect the caps either to a high voltage DC charging supply, or to a high power bleeder resistor chain. A 15 kV 60 mA transformer and a set of 40 kV rectifiers provide the DC charging voltage for the capacitor bank. The primary of the transformer can be overdriven to 140 volts via a variable autotransformer to speed up the charging process. The electrical energy stored in the capacitor bank is proportional to the square of the bank voltage, and the degree of "shrinking" force is directly proportional to the capacitor bank's energy.

The charged capacitor bank is quickly discharged through a single layer work coil made of heavy magnet wire. The coin is held firmly in the center of the coil by a pair of dowel rods so that it's axis of rotation is parallel to the centerline of the coil. This constrains the coin from twisting, and also helps balance the forces wanting to eject it from inside the coil. The two ends of the coil are stripped of insulation and firmly bolted to heavy copper bus bars. The high voltage "switch" that connects the capacitor bank to the work coil is actually a high power triggerable spark gap, called a "trigatron". The main gap electrodes are solid brass, 2.5" in diameter. One of the electrodes is drilled and tapped to hold the triggering electrode (actually a modified spark plug). A triggered spark gap is the only affordable device that can hold off the high voltage and then reliably and efficiently switch the high currents involved in the shrinking process (70,000 to over 100,000 amperes).

The trigatron is fired by applying a high voltage (~40 kV) pulse to the trigger electrode, which then causes the main gap in the trigatron to ionize and fire. Once the main gap fires, current rapidly climbs in the work coil, the rate of change (di/dt) being of the order of 4-5 billion amperes/second. The natural resonant frequency of the LC circuit formed by the capacitor bank and work coil is of the order of 8-12 kHz. Through transformer action, a huge circulating current is induced in the coin, but because of skin effect, this current is confined to the outermost rim of the coin, typically penetrating to a depth of less than 0.050". In clad coins more of this circulating current flows through the better conducting copper center of the clad sandwich than in the outer layers. The coin and work coil magnetic fields oppose each other (Lenz's Law), resulting in tremendous repulsion forces between the work coil and the rim of the coin. The circulating current in the rim of the coin actually prevents the rapidly increasing magnetic field of the work coil from penetrating the interior of the coin.

The large current that's induced into the outer rim of the coin can reach a million amperes or more! The initial bank energy is typically in the range of 3,500 - 8,500 Joules (or watt-seconds) but it is being discharged in microseconds. As a result, the instantaneous power is quite large, and for a brief instant is roughly equal to the electrical power consumed by a large city. The repulsion forces between the work coil and the coin create tremendous radial compressive forces that easily overcome the yield strength of the metal alloys in the coin, causing the coin to plastically deform into a smaller diameter. The higher the initial energy, the greater the degree of "shrinkage". Applying a 6300 joule pulse results in a quarter whose diameter becomes 0.1" SMALLER than a dime! At the same time, similar outward radial forces cause the work coil to forcefully explode in a potentially lethal shower of metal fragments. In addition, there are also large (but less strong) axial forces that squeeze the work coil wires together while the coil is simultaneously expanding in diameter. In all cases, the forces acting upon the coil are in a direction that tends to increase its inductance. The coin behaves as a short circuited single turn secondary in a 10:1 stepdown transformer. The metal forming effect of huge magnetic fields is sometimes seen on a much larger scale - in large utility power transformers, the repulsive forces between windings can literally tear the windings apart during a high current phase to phase short circuit.

As the work coil expands, the insulation separates from the wire (since it can't stretch as much as the ductile copper!), the wire eventually fragments, and pieces of the coil are forcefully ejected outward with the force of a small bomb. For safety, the work coil is housed in a blast shield made from 1/2" Lexan polycarbonate, the same material used to make bulletproof windows. Regions directly impacted by the explosion are also reinforced with steel or titanium plates. Once the work coil disintegrates, most of the residual electromagnetic or electrostatic energy in the system is dissipated in a ball of blue white plasma that fills the blast shield. Any residual energy still left over is then dissipated by high power bleeder resistors. The Quarter Shrinker is triggered from about 15 feet away from a remote control box. I've found (the hard way!) that about 8000 Joules is about the maximum energy I can repeatedly hit without running a risk of fracturing the Lexan blast shield from the shockwave. Under the right conditions, Lexan does indeed shatter - I've got the pieces to prove it! Other experimenters (Rob Stephens, Bill Emery, Phillip Rembold, Ross Overstreet, and Brian Basura) have resorted to using steel enclosures when running at higher power levels. Adding 1/4" steel plates has stopped the Lexan blast shield from fracturing, and future designs will use titanium to stand up to the direct blast of coil fragments.

Results:
The largest coin I've shrunk was a Silver Eagle, a silver coin that started out about 1.6" in diameter, and ended up 1.3" in diameter. A Morgan Silver dollar was reduced from about 1.5" to 1.25" in diameter at 6300 Joules. A clad Kennedy half dollar ends up smaller than a quarter. Quarters typically shrink to about 80-100 mils SMALLER than a dime. In quarter shrinking, the current in the coil usually never makes it to the first current peak - the work coil disintegrates first. This disintegration prevents the energy discharge capacitors from seeing potentially damaging voltage reversals. However, the rapid discharge and tremendous surge currents are still very hard on the energy discharge capacitors. I've redesigned the system to use low inductance, 100 kA/shot Maxwell pulse caps that are truly rated for this type of abuse.

Examination of the coil fragments show that the wire has been substantially stretched (#10 AWG looks like #14 AWG afterwards), it's strongly work hardened, and has periodic "pinched" regions and kinks caused by the copper being stressed beyond its yield strength by the ultrastrong magnetic field. Many fragments are 1/4" long or less, and all pieces show evidence of tensile fracture at the ends. Since the wire's insulation is blown off, most fragments are bare copper. The wire often also shows signs of localized melting on the inner surface of the solenoid due to current "bunching" from a combination of skin effect and proximity effect.

A larger diameter work coil operating at lower power levels is used to crush aluminum cans - an aluminum pop can ends up looking like an hourglass as the center is shrunk to about half it's original diameter. In this case, the coil does not disintegrate due to it's more massive design (3 turns of #4 AWG solid wire) and the system is fired using a lower energy level than that used for coin crushing. At higher power levels the can is ripped apart from the combination of the air inside the can suddenly being compressed, and the heating of the can from the induced currents. Can crushing also works with steel cans, but the can undergoes greater heating and reduced shrinkage because of steel's lower conductivity. The "skin depth" is also much thinner due to the ferromagnetic properties of the steel alloy. Since the work coil is not destroyed during can crushing, the capacitor bank and spark gap are stressed by a full damped oscillatory ("ringing") discharge. The capacitor bank voltage must be reduced to avoid damaging the caps, and since most of the capacitor bank's energy ends up being dissipated as heat in the trigatron, causing significant electrode heating and erosion in the HV switch.

The Quarter Shrinker works on dimes, quarters, halves, Eisenhowers, Morgans, and Golden (Sacagawea) dollars, and most foreign coins. It also works with older copper pennies. However, newer (>1982) pennies are actually made with a zinc core with a thin copper coating. During shrinking, the thin copper layer vaporizes and the zinc core melts, leaving an unrecognizable glob of molten zinc and a messy shower of zinc globules throughout the blast chamber. Because of the greater hardness and much poorer electrical conductivity of the nickel-copper alloy, the shrinking process doesn't work as well with US nickels, only shrinking them by about 10% at 6300 Joules.

A shrunken coin weighs exactly the same as before, and its density is also unchanged. The coin does get thicker as its diameter is reduced. Certain bi-metal foreign coins with rings and centers made from different alloys show different degrees of shrinkage based upon the electrical conductivity and hardness. In some cases, the center portion may shrink a bit more, freeing it from the outer ring (such as older Mexican bi-metals, older French bi-metals, and the new 2 Euro coins).

Because of the extremely high discharge current levels and fast current risetimes, energy discharge capacitors are fabricated to have low inductance and use special internal construction techniques to safely handle the shock created by magnetic forces and mechanical dielectric relaxation during high current pulse discharges. Unfortunately, the GE pulse capacitors that I previously used were simply not designed to withstand 100,000 Amp current peaks. They began to fail catastrophically, rupturing the metal case and hemorrhaging capacitor oil. However, the redesigned Shrinker now uses Maxwell energy discharge capacitors that are rated at 90% survival for 300,000 shots at 100,000 amps/shot. The Maxwell caps have survived almost 1,000 shots with no evidence of any problem.

EM Field Theory and Wire Fragmentation?
The copper wire fragments from the work coil clearly indicate the presence of large tensile forces within the wire. Most of the observed effects on the wire can be explained by hoop stresses from "magnetic pressure" within the work coil solenoid and Lenz's Law repulsion between the coil and the coin. However, there is a curious ridge which shows up under microscopic examination of the coil fragments that may hint of other effects as well. This artifact was first noticed by Richard Hull of the Tesla Coil Builders of Richmond, Virginia (TCBOR) when reviewing similar wire fragments from another researcher (Jim Goss). It seems that when an extremely high current flows through a solid or liquid metallic conductor, certain effects begin to appear which may not be fully explained by existing EM field theory and Lorentz force. One very interesting example involves forcing a very large current pulse very quickly through a straight piece of wire. Under appropriate conditions, the wire does not melt or explode. Instead, it fractures into a series of roughly equal length fragments, each fragment showing unmistakable evidence of impact tensile failure. Each segment has literally been pulled apart from neighboring fragments with little or no evidence of neck down or melting. Clearly large tensile forces were set up within the wire during the brief time that the large current flowed. But, per existing EM theory, NO tensile forces should exist!

A father and son team, Dr.'s Peter and Neal Graneau who are coauthors of "Newtonian Electrodynamics" and "Newton Versus Einstein", theorize that internally developed "Ampere' tensile forces" can fully account for the observed behavior of this, and other high current experiments. While Ampere' tensile forces are predicted by classical electromagnetic theory, they have long been removed from all modern textbooks, being replaced instead by modern field theory and Lorentz forces. Interestingly, even though Ampere' forces are no longer an accepted part of current EM theory, their existence may be experimentally verifiable. In their books, the Graneau's give many other thought provoking experiments that appear to support Ampere' Tension forces. More recently, other scientists believe that high current wire fragmentation may be caused by a combination of flexural vibrations and thermal shock. This is an area that's ripe for future research and experimentation...

Isn't Mutilating Money a Federal Offense?
Federal law specifically forbids the "fraudulent mutilation, diminution, and falsification of coins" (see US Code, Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure, Part I - Crimes, Chapter 17 - Coins and Currency, Paragraph 331). The key word is Fraudulent. As long as you don't alter coins with an intent to defraud, then you can pretty much do whatever you wish with coins, including squishing them on railroad tracks, flattening them into elongated souvenirs at tourist traps, or crushing them with electromagnetic fields. I take great pains to tell folks exactly what they are receiving and how the process was accomplished. This is also why those vending machines in tourist traps that squash pennies into elongated souvenirs or "funny" stamped pennies with Lincoln smoking a cigar are indeed legal (although they can't be used as currency anymore). The official position of the US Mint is that they "frown on the despicable practice" of altering coins, but they also agree that it is indeed legal to shrink coins.

Paragraph 332 deals with debasement of coins; alteration of official scales, or embezzlement of metals. Since the coins involved are all made from base metals, this section does not apply. However, since the density, metal content, and weight remain unaltered during the shrinking process, coin shrinking is legal even when applied to precious metal coins. Gold and 90%+ silver coins shrink very well.

So Who Invented this Crazy Device?
No, it wasn't me! For the history of coin shrinking as presently reconstructed, check out The Known History of "Quarter Shrinking"

References:
Following are various references for the serious researcher. Check the "Out of Print Books Information" and "In Print Book Sources" sections of the Links Page or check with your local technical college library system.

A. Electromagnetic Metal Forming:
1. "Metals Handbook, Volume 4, Forming", American Society for Metals - has a section on Electromagnetic Forming (in print)
2. Wilson, Frank W., ed., "High Velocity Forming of Metals", ASTME, Prentice-Hall, 1964, 188 pages (out of print)
3. Bruno, E. J., ed., "High Velocity Forming of Metals", Revised, edition, ASTME, 1968, 227 pages (out of print)
4. NASA, "High-Velocity Metalworking, a Survey, SP-5062", National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1967, 188 pages (out of print)

B. Capacitor Discharges, High Magnetic Fields, Pulsed Power/Switching, Wire Fragmentation:
1. Frungel, F., "High Speed Pulse Technology", Vol. 3, Academic Press, 1976, 498pp (Capacitor Discharge Engineering, out of print)
2. Schaefer, Gerhard, "Gas Discharge Closing Switches", Plenum, 1991, 569 pages (out of print)
3. Martin, T. H., et al, "J. C. Martin on Pulsed Power", Plenum, 1996, 546 pages (out of print)
4. Knoepfel, H., "Pulsed High Magnetic Fields; Physical Effects & Generation...", Elsevier, 1970, 372 pages (out of print)
5. Fowler, C. M., Caird, Erickson, "Megagauss Technology and Pulsed Power Applications", Plenum; 1987; 879 pages (in print)
6. Vitkovitsky, Ihor, "High Power Switching", Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1987, 304 pages(in print)
7. Pai, S. T, & Zhang, Q., "Introduction to High Power Pulse Technology", World Scientific, 1995, 307 pages ( in print)
8. Sarjeant, W. J. & Dollinger, Richard E., "High Power Electronics", Tab Professional & Reference Books, 1989, 392 pages (out of print)
9. Shneerson, G. A.," Fields & Transients in Superhigh Pulse Current Devices", Nova Science, 1997, 561 pages (out of print)
10. Parkinson, David H., Mulhall, Brian E., "The Generation of High Magnetic Fields", Plenum, 1967, 165 pages (out of print)

C. Special Reading if you're interested in deeper EM Field Theory - Excellent and Thought Provoking:
1. Graneau, Peter & Neal, "Newtonian Electrodynamics", World Scientific, 1996, 288 pages (in print)
2. Graneau, Peter & Neal, "Newton Versus Einstein, How Matter Interacts with Matter", Carlton Press, 1993, 219 pages (in print)
3. Jefimenko, Oleg, "Causality, Electromagnetic Induction, and Gravitation", Electret Scientific, 1992, 180 pages (in print)
4. Lukyanov, A., Molokov, S., "Why High Pulsed Currents Shatter Metal Wires?", Pulsed Power Plasma Science, 2001, Digest of Technical Papers, Volume 2, pages 1599-1602
5. Lukyanov, A., Molokov, S., Allen, J. E., Wall, D., "The Role of Flexural Vibrations in the Wire Fragmentation", Pulsed Power 2000, IEE Symposium , pages 36/1 -36/4

D. Web-Accessible Sources of Information on Ampere' tension forces:
http://www.df.lth.se/~snorkelf/Longitudin al/Slutdo k.html
http://www.roger-univ.ro/ro/publicatii/luc rari/dan _chicea.pdf

A>S

As seen on Ebay (4, Informative)

Jim Buzbee (517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617952)



Check out the picture and prices of the some of his work on ebay [ebay.com]

Try slashdoting that!

anti-spam (5, Funny)

mnewton32 (613590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617962)

Please Contact Me me to discuss YOUR custom shrinking needs!

Ah, now this is a welcome relief from all those spammers who seem to think I always need to make things bigger!

Dammit (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8617998)

"Too many users attempting to access this site."

I wanted to see his Tesla coil info. Damn.

My UID is lower than yours (-1, Offtopic)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618005)

Now I don't mean to imply that my penis is larger than yours or that my opinons are more valid. Only that I've had my account longer than you've had yours. This makes me better than you.

That is all.

--Shoeboy

Site slash doted (0, Redundant)

NIK282000 (737852) | more than 10 years ago | (#8618020)

It might be my finiky pc but i think we just /.ed another site. Great topic though.

Everyone (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618035)

Get off the site, I wanna look.

What about us? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618102)

What about the vast majority of e-mail users who have Outlook [Express] on Windows. When will a plugin be designed and ported which will work with these clients?

-- paper

Re:Umm... what's the definition of spam? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618107)

You miss the point. You teach dspam what you do and don't want to see, so ultimately you decide.

Outlook is like what you fear; Microsoft decides what you will and won't see. I can add specific senders to the black and white lists (you click to add to the blacklist, but you have to type in an address to add it to the whitelist -- stupid MS shits), but Microsoft decides if I can see that attachment (if they think it's bad, it's gone and I can't recover it) or if this email's spam (it regularly discarded stuff from IBM Developer Works until I added them to my whitelist). With a tool like dspam I can regain control over what gets filtered (although I've found no way to turn off Outlook's attachment blocking).

What we say in Cyberspace (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618109)

I have always considered comments that are said on newsgroups and forums to be personal opinions of the sort one might overhear in a bar, so if you say "Apple nicked all thier ideas from PARC" you would not suddenly expect a summons from Apples legal department.

On the contary, if a site passes itself as an "eNewspaper" site, an eMag or whatever, and it publishes mistruths, then I would expect it to be sued as any pulp publication would be.

Are there any legal precedents or specific laws on this?

Horrible Name (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618110)

I really do wish mickysoft would rename their flagship database something else. Are they that arrogant that they feel the need for such a generic name? That's about like naming your product "Web Server" or "Network File Server". When someone mentions SQL server, I always have them clarify whether or not they are talking in general terms for some sort of relational backend, or are they referring to microsoft's product. Sometimes they don't even know the difference, but perhaps that is microsoft's end goal.

Re:True (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618111)

Cheaper version of Windows? I think it will be funny if MS sells the new version for the same price and just tells them the player was a freebie.

Article Repost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618114)

One of the best-known and most ambitious music programs for GNAA/Linux is the LilyPond score engraving system. Unlike other typesetting software like Finale or Sibelius, LilyPond is not a score editor, and it has no GUI -- instead it aims to start from a simple textual description of the music and turn it into the highest possible quality output, automatically.

LilyPond is the result of several years of work by Han-Wen Nienhuys and Jan Nieuwenhuizen. In this extensive interview, GNAA/Linux Musician's Chris Cannam talks to them about recent and future directions for the project.

Chris: I recently found a file of music examples I had printed out from LilyPond, probably in 1998. The LilyPond printouts looked less professional than they would be today, but many of the capabilities of today's software were in place. What have you been doing for the last six years?

Han-Wen: About five years ago we were working up to release 1.0. Our target was to have a usable program that could produce basic music notation, where we defined "basic" as "whatever is in our set of simple test pieces", and usable was "will not dump core, mostly."

We succeeded, but of course it didn't work very well for things that weren't in our test-pieces. By that time, we were also reaching the bounds of what was possible in our model of notation, an object-oriented model, hard-coded in C++. So we decided to integrate the GNU's GUILE library, a Scheme interpreter which was specifically designed to extend programs. We spent the next two to three years refactoring our C++ code into Scheme functions. This resulted in a more flexible, more efficient and better maintainable program.

"We knew what 'publication quality' engraving meant, and were determined to perfect Lily into producing that."

The second big change was catalyzed by an invitation to join a workshop in Firenze, Italy, organized by Nicola Bernardini of AGNULA fame, then director of Centro Tempo Reale. At the workshop we met Nicola, a few top-notch engravers, and an editor for Universal Edition, an Austrian publisher that does a lot of contemporary music. We had the chance to discuss LilyPond with several experts. On the one hand, we were thrilled that they took us seriously, but on the other hand they pointed to several inadequacies in our output. We arrived back home a great deal wiser.

We knew what "publication quality" engraving meant, and were determined to perfect Lily into producing that. Since we like hand-engraved music, we started reproducing simple pieces in LilyPond and comparing the output side-by-side. By doing close comparisons, we learned how music should really look, and we fixed all the deficiencies that we found.

In anything that you write, there will always be a neat, simple, small idea that is obscured by crufty implementation, bad design or suboptimal algorithms. According to me, the real art of programming is recognizing the neat idea, and being ruthless enough to redo all the other bad bits. Since we're writing new code all the time, we also have continue to refactoring everything, and this how we have spent the last few years: coding new stuff, and refactoring old stuff.

We also did a lot with the documentation. Some of our users complain about the current documentation, and they're probably right, but what we have now is light-years ahead of the manual a few years ago.

Your website features an essay on music typesetting that is quite critical of other software, with an entertaining piece of bad typesetting from Finale. You make an effort to explain that it isn't just an exceptional example -- but surely if programs like Finale and Sibelius are so widely used by good musicians, they can't really be that bad?

The default output of Finale is indeed shockingly bad, which is why almost all other vendors routinely compare their packages to Finale. Of course, that's why we use it too. The default layout of Sibelius is not very elegant, but at least it's usable. A Sibelius sample would be a le

Read the rest of this comment... [slashdot.org]

not only hardware... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618115)

How about Oracle asking for MySQL to remove their stats from the benchmark table [mysql.com]

"Note that Oracle is not included because they asked to be removed. All Oracle benchmarks have to be passed by Oracle! We believe that makes Oracle benchmarks very biased because the above benchmarks are supposed to show what a standard installation can do for a single client."

Ugh... this is like betamax (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618116)

Guys, I am a professional musician who occasionaly makes a few hundred bucks setting out of print scores to finale or sibeleus. I also use linux, and like the open source model.

The problem is that programmers arent creative in this department... those coders all work at apple.

This is never going to get off the ground, and is a hindrance to the adoption of linux by musicians, when in reality things like jack, ardour, and alsa make it an excellent platform for creative types, a la Pd, miller puckette's wonderful synthesis program.

The developers seem to be focusing on making things "right" and in a description language. Fine, but i dont see how this is going to help inspire musicians to use this arcane latex garbage to print out a set of exercises. Most of my musician friends cant even use finale well, so how can one expect the same of this program.

On the other hand, if your objective is to create a framework for music notation software, midi in, etc, etc, then you need to work with people in that community so that you can have more attention and people drawn to that project.

As it stands now, this software is like enlightenment 17... by the time it gets ready, all the interested people and developers will have gone elsewhere or vanished in disgust.

Re:Precedent? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618117)

I don't think that's the point... there are other laws as well that aren't the same as the states. For example here in Canada you are allowed to download MP3's... just not upload them...

But if US law took priority we'd be extraditing lots of Canadians to be tried in US courts for copyright infringment even though it's perfectly legal here in Canada...

Or something totaly different... it's legal to smoke pot here in Canada... if US law took priority then we'd be extradited to the US for enjoying a bud...

Different countries different laws... why should we be arrested and extradited for laws of other countries if we broke none in our own? (And have never stepped foot in the other country even) That would be like arresting all those downloading pr0n and extraditing them to Iran or something because it violates Islamic laws of decency...

Just my two cents...

Addbo

Re:What about Apple? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618120)

... because Apple is not a monopoly, period.

Re:It's more than just the engine (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618123)

I had a problem with my '99 cavalier; the engine would drop it's RPMs by several hundred every once in a while; almost, but not quite, enough to stall.

Took it in to the dealer, they said 'is the check engine light on?'

'Nope,' I replied, 'but here's what it's doing...'

'Sorry,' came the reply. 'If the check light's not on, there's no diagnostic codes for us to look up. We can't fix it unless we know what's wrong.'

Ozzy Osbourne says (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618126)

All aboard the crazy train.

Google not a validation of data (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618128)

The reviewer said all data came from the manufacturer's public information & Google. Finding it on Google doesn't validate the data. You need to look at the site that Google sends you too, validate that it is a trustworthy site which has information that you can use.

I'd say it's overblown except (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8618132)

that almost nobody is really taking this seriously, so the lack of interest in space defense seems about right to me. The human species has survived 2 million years without going the way of the dinosaur. It seems like there are many reasons to not stress out about this:
  • Low risk/reward ratio, public money is much better spent elsewhere. If someone else wants to spend their money on this, more power to them.
  • Our technology is very rapidly advancing, especially relative to the amount of time that passes (on average) between significant asteroid hits. 100 years ago we were completely helpless. 50 years ago, we had nukes, but no missles that were even close to being able to deliver them, in another 50 or 100 years, this may be a yawner due to general technology advances.

To be completely flippant (and yes, I do realize there is a risk, I just think it is relatively low)... boring! I just hope this doesn't turn into another cause where misguided celebrities drive us into spending money on it disproportionally like certain trendy diseases.

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