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  #1  
Old 10-27-2003, 05:02 PM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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Force Fields

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mforcefield.html

After reading this article, I thought I had heard of a force field being created in a 3M factory. The guy that discovered it was David Swenson.

http://www.amasci.com/weird/unusual/e-wall.html

There is currently two "artists" that are planning on creating another electrostatic force field and present the findings this month.

http://www.scansite.org/scan.php?pid=106

Does anyone have any information as to if this is really possible, and the forces behind it..

Zer0
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  #2  
Old 10-28-2003, 11:26 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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The engineers were supposed to reveal all on October 25, but I can't find any reference to it.

Have any British Dopers seen an article on this?
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  #3  
Old 10-28-2003, 04:06 PM
bonzer bonzer is offline
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Re: Force Fields

If they have got any press coverage, then it doesn't appear to have been in the national media.
It can't be linked to directly, but the promised web log of their progress can be found on the ArtSway website. Though, after a couple of weeks, the entries peter out back in August ...

Quote:
Originally posted by Zer0
http://www.amasci.com/weird/unusual/e-wall.html
Incidentally, www.amasci.com is run by Bill Beaty, who's a fairly regular poster on the SDMB.
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  #4  
Old 10-28-2003, 04:24 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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I see an extraordinary claim. For extraordinary evidence, I see... Nothing. Not even a picture (which could be easily faked) of something leaning against this "invisible wall" (I'm not counting the "artists", link, since there's no evidence that it's the same phenomenon, nor really even a claim that it's real).

Given an extraordinary claim without extraordinary (or any) evidence, I know what to conclude.
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  #5  
Old 10-28-2003, 05:29 PM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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Interesting you feel that way, from what I have been able to find on the 3M plant, I have yet to find anything to disprove this happened, David Swenson Is as far as I know employed with 3M and has also won several awards with some electrostatic group, he also has several articles and he is considered the formost expert in static electricity.

http://www.static-planet.com/tales/index.html

More info on Static.

Zer0
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  #6  
Old 10-29-2003, 11:52 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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You've probably also not found anything to disprove that aliens landed at the 3M plant, or that the CEO of 3M is actually a giant squid in disguise, or that a man working at 3M gave birth to a three-headed baby with bat wings. Why have you not bothered to look for such disproofs? Because there's no reason to believe those things in the first place. If someone at least came up with a photo of that three-headed kid, then you might want to put some effort into checking it out, but just on a claim alone? No point.
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  #7  
Old 10-29-2003, 08:10 PM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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Intersting

Chronos I find it interesting that you dismiss things before you have a chance to find information about them. We will never be able to see a picture of the "Big Bang" but the evidence is there. If everyone dismissed things as suddenly as you have we would still be in the dark ages. Myself I choose to find out the answers before dismissing a very thought or comment. If you do not have any information to disprove my question then why even take the time to comment ?

Zer0
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  #8  
Old 10-29-2003, 09:15 PM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, Zer0, glad to have you with us.

You might want to read a few threads to get a feeling for what we're about here. Generally speaking, we don't go around searching for evidence that something DIDN'T happen. That's pretty much hopeless. I claim there is a zebra that is green and purple, and then ask you to go out and disprove it. How can you do that? Even if you lined up every known zebra in the world and they were all black-and-white, I'd claim you didn't get my green-and-purple one.

In short, the burden of evidence lies with the person making the claim. Chronos' point is that there is no evidence for this claim. In the absence of evidence trying to prove something happened, there is no way that we are going to waste time trying to prove that it didn't happen.

OK?
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  #9  
Old 10-30-2003, 04:02 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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A picture of the Big Bang

See, the difference between this and the Big Bang is that there is evidence for the Big Bang, but there is not any evidence for this 3M forcefield. When there is evidence, you can look at how good the evidence is, but what can you do when there isn't any evidence?
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  #10  
Old 11-02-2003, 11:03 PM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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I do understand where you all are coming from, but a case in point, static electrical energy can repel and attract objects. I am looking for a scientific explanation, as to is it possible to have such a strong static electrical force that it could repel a human being. I am not talking sci fi here or star trek.... My thoughts are if the static electrical field is positively charged, and a human being is also positively charged wouldn't the human being be repelled by the field... Simple enough, and even if there is little to no proof that this happen, isn't it feasible that it could ???



Quote:
Originally posted by Chronos
A picture of the Big Bang

See, the difference between this and the Big Bang is that there is evidence for the Big Bang, but there is not any evidence for this 3M forcefield. When there is evidence, you can look at how good the evidence is, but what can you do when there isn't any evidence?
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  #11  
Old 11-03-2003, 01:59 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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If you're just asking if it's possible, then no, there's no known way it could be possible. Even if you put a large charge on a person (humans, like most objects, are normally uncharged), and you had an electrostatic field strong enough to exert a significant force on the person, it wouldn't be a wall-like effect. It'd be more like trying to walk up a steep hill. The force would extend over a large region, rather than being tightly confined. The only known way to confine such a field is to arrange charged particles around it in just the right way, in which case, as described in the Staff Report, you no longer have a "force field", but a plain ordinary wall made of ordinary atoms.
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  #12  
Old 11-03-2003, 12:55 PM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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Ok that is what I was getting at. Sorry if my question was taken the wrong way. Now I have one more for you. What about ionics, I know when using High voltage that you can make a "motor" of sorts, by just using voltage, with no motors. It is run by ions pushing against, my guess would be air. If this ionic force is strong enough could it stop a object coming towards it, needless to say it would most likely burst into flames, but could a concept like this be used to stop a moving object such as a baseball ???
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  #13  
Old 11-03-2003, 02:44 PM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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I've seen little motors made by kicking ions off the back of some metal piece. This doesn't push off of anything, but instead is the balancing reaction you get when you propel something away from you. More of a firehose effect.

By the way, you initial question wasn't taken the wrong way. It was your reaction to the initial answers you got that indicated you weren't understanding the point.
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  #14  
Old 11-03-2003, 05:43 PM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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I understood the point form the beginning, I did not understand the point of not investigating something. If the case was being made by a unknown person even I would have dismissed it without a question. But if the information is coming from a reputable individual such as David Swenson. Shouldn't we take the time to give it a thought that maybe this individual discovered something at all.. Just becuase the information is not right there for you to see, such as a photograph, why suddenly dismiss it????

Chronas also made the comment "it wouldn't be a wall-like effect. It'd be more like trying to walk up a steep hill" if this is the case wouldn't that still be concieved as a type of force field. Like I stated before I am not talking SCiFi, like Star Trek, a invisible wall that stops anything. I am talking a controled environment where you could control the charges involved. ???

Thanks Curt on the ion info, I was not sure if it actually pushed against the air or the object it self. If it does work similar in fashion to a "Fire Hose" could you develop enough ion energy that would be able to effect a small object ?? Or are these forces to weak ?

Zer0
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  #15  
Old 11-03-2003, 07:23 PM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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<< Shouldn't we take the time to give it a thought that maybe this individual discovered something at all.. Just becuase the information is not right there for you to see, such as a photograph, why suddenly dismiss it???? >>

You're more than welcome to investigate it and report back to us what you find. The general feeling of the others who have reported seems to be that they're not interested.

There's only so many things one can investigate and only so many things one can do with one's time. One prioritizes, and this one just doesn't seem to have got on anyone's priority list except for yours. Don't let that discourage you -- we'd be delighted to hear the results of your research.
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  #16  
Old 11-03-2003, 10:10 PM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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I was getting the same impression CK, thank you for the comments...I am still searching for information on this as we speak. And I am to the point that I am inclined to see what my chances are to actually speak with David Swenson himself.. If I do get the chance and he is able to give me more information I will be more than happy to share ... As far as the two "artists" I don't know ... the whole thing that they are doing seems a little more than strange....
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  #17  
Old 11-04-2003, 03:04 AM
scr4 scr4 is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chronos
Even if you put a large charge on a person (humans, like most objects, are normally uncharged), and you had an electrostatic field strong enough to exert a significant force on the person, it wouldn't be a wall-like effect.
Unless the charging mechanism only worked at close range. If there was a localized flow of highly ionized air, a person might get charged only when he came in contact with it. That might act like an invisible wall.

Of course I find it very hard to believe that the human body can accumulate enough charge to explain the reported phenomenon. Still, I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.
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  #18  
Old 11-04-2003, 11:32 AM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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I put in a email to David Swenson and to a few people at Static Planet.com and Electrical Static Discharge (ESD) Journal. I did find on there site the smae reference to the encounter with David Swenson. After the story they do have a theory of sorts by Peter Thomson.


The theory is at the bottom of the page and I found more than interesting, and seemingly holding up to the physics of it also.

Here is the link:http://www.esdjournal.com/articles/final/final.htm

I have just sent the emails out, so hopefully I can find out even more information on this.

Thanks for the comments scr4 I tend to agree with you, about not dismissing it. It's just a very interesting thought or occurance if it did happen ...

Zer0
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  #19  
Old 11-04-2003, 02:57 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Chronas also made the comment "it wouldn't be a wall-like effect. It'd be more like trying to walk up a steep hill" if this is the case wouldn't that still be concieved as a type of force field.
According to the scientific definition, then yes, an electrostatic field is a clear example of a force field. It's a property which has a value at every point in space, and it exerts a force. But most laymen don't use the scientific definition of the term, and in conversation, if someone refers to a "force field", then it's usually safe to assume that they mean a Star Trek-style energy wall.

A force field in the scientific sense of the word is quite possible, and it's conceivable that something of the sort could have been observed at 3M, but it's still a huge stretch to suppose that both the field and the charge on a person were large enough to have the described effects.
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  #20  
Old 11-04-2003, 06:02 PM
bonzer bonzer is offline
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I suspect all of us - Chronos included - are intregued by the stories, but that's partly why we're all wary of being convinced. Good stories are sometimes just good stories and little more, after all. But trying to find the details from Mr. Swenson directly is exactly a good way to go about investigating this sort of tale.
Quote:
Originally posted by Zer0
After the story they do have a theory of sorts by Peter Thomson.

The theory is at the bottom of the page and I found more than interesting, and seemingly holding up to the physics of it also.
On the other hand, it can confuse the issue if people start theorising about an incident before everybody's sure that that's what actually happened. There are people who're quite willing to spin out all sorts of explanations for things and so the fact that someone has proposed some theory doesn't tell us anything by itself. It often just adds another layer of confusion to the situation.

In this instance, Peter Thomson appears to be using the story to publicise a pre-existing pet theory of his. About how tornadoes require electromagnetism to explain them. That's a slightly odd claim to start from, so there's grounds for being wary about his claim to be "explaining" the possible incident at 3M.
As a general rule, I take webpages that might be pushing kooky physics at face value until they make a completely elementary error about standard physics. Thomson already falls into just such a misconception in his message at the bottom of the original page.
Quote:
First, a little bit of basic physics, often overlooked. When you consider two charged particles with the same charge, when stationary they will repel each other, but when moving in parallel each moving charge creates a circular magnetic field round itself that results in mutual attraction. This is normally demonstrated in the attraction between two wires where negative charge is moving in parallel, but applies equally to charge moving in a paper or plastic film on a production line or in a moving charged dust cloud, or a thunder storm.
This is basic physics, but he's already dead wrong. He's right that two similarly charged particles at rest will repel. He's also right that two parallel currents in wires will, in contrast, attract each other. He's even right that that's because charged particles moving down the wires create magnetic fields. But that doesn't mean that two similar charges moving in parallel will attract each other.
Why not? How's that different from them moving down wires? Because wires also contain particles of the opposite charge. The magnetic force can only attract the wires because these (stationary) particles of opposite charge are completely cancelling out the electric repulsion between the charges generating the magnetic field. If those other charges aren't there, then there's no such "shielding" of the electric repulsion and similar charges moving in parallel always repel each other.
[The quickest way to prove this does require some undergraduate physics: just transform to the inertial frame where the particles are at rest.]

The rest of his explanations don't get any better. But then, I think that tornadoes are already understood anyway.
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  #21  
Old 11-06-2003, 11:35 AM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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I went back and followed the link to the theory on tornados, I found it interesting but far fetched none the less. We all know that tornados create static electrical charges, but they easily regulate themselves, by discharging to the ground. Your physics on what this guy is saying makes a lot of sense to me, but the entire thing is still interesting. What I am trying to put together in my head is the fact if the Static electrical field, which is claimed to be in the Megawatt range, has a strong positive charge. A body or individual would have to be in just the right place to also get this same electrical charge, without being sturck dead by a discharge. Now knowing how plant operations work, it would seem to me that charged air in the megawatt range would simply discharge itself to the nearest ground. Simply like a storm cloud would strike the ground, which is much higher up than this field would have to been ....
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  #22  
Old 11-10-2003, 08:51 AM
Zer0 Zer0 is offline
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Message From David Swenson

I just recieved a email from David Swenson, he has retired from 3M and his email is pasted below, he is willing to discuss this matter further with questions and answers also.

<Start Email>
This is David Swenson, "Voltana" at 3M forwarded your question to me to see if I could assist.

I retired from 3M in March of this year and started a consulting company called "Affinity Static Control Consulting, L.L.C. The article you refered to in Electrostatic Journal was originally presented at an EOS/ESD Symposium but was not published at that time. I was asked to present it again at a conference in Canada related to the Priniting and Graphic Arts industry several years later. The published version from that conference was then put on the Web Site of Electrostatic Journal.

I have had numerous inquiries over the years from people all over the world regarding the phenomena. Several explanations were offered and several have tried to duplicate my observations on a lab or test bed scale. I have never heard if anyone was successful. The US Department of Defense was also interested and I think put some effort into trying to duplicate what was I observed. I was asked to try to get the plant to allow some others to come in and do a study but it never worked out. I have no access to it anymore, in fact is is not even a 3M operation anymore.

I think the best explanation has to do with the film being at or vaery near the theoretical charge density limit and just the right combination of resistance between the person and floor. With the electric field at its maximum at the center of the tent formed by the film, the conductive body (person) approaching the center was actually pinned to the floor. Had the floor been more conductive, the person would have been closer to ground and probably would have received a massive shock from a propagating brush discharge. But being isolated from ground, no charge separation occured resulting in the electrostatic "pinning" effect.

There was some other talk about a "plasma" being formed but I do not think that explains it well. This only occured at the exact combination of temperature and humidity (dew point) and went away when the humidity increased in the room.

You asked about charged particles - if you mean actual solid particles or an aerosol, I doubt that the field density could appoach the film level since the particles would repel one another too much.

Should you want to discuss this further my current contact information is listed below.
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