Sunday, November 27, 2011

Alien nuts

The comet had been captured eons ago by the the sun's gravity, and has been orbiting the sun ever since. On one orbit it passed near the earth, and a few spores locked in the ice of the comet's tail are captured by earths gravity and start to orbit the new planet. Millions of years pass as the spores are ever pulled deeper into the earth's gravity well, and eventually they start on a slow but steady decent to the surface. The spores alight in a field of exposed raw iron ore in what will eventually be northern Minnesota, and following their programming they move into the crystalline matrix of the iron, and start to multiply. They are alien evil incarnate, with endless patience. Eventually the planet's biped inhabitants take their giant earth movers and excavate the iron ore. Powerful  machines crush the ore into powder, magnets separate the iron and roll it into small balls. The balls are sent to a foundry, and are melted into billets, with one of them still carrying the inorganic alien spores. The billet is sold to a manufacturer who makes stainless steel nuts. The spores are now embedded in thousand of stainless steel nuts, and their long wait is almost over. Destruction of all life on planet earth is their goal, and it is now within their reach.

The nuts are sold to a company that makes marine electrical components. Two of the thousands of alien infested nuts end up in a high amperage fuse holder, which is then sold to a boat builder who uses it inline on an inverter power feed with a 300 amp fuse.

The boat is delivered to its new owner who is unaware of the alien presence now lurking in his boat. The aliens now know their time has come. Working with inexorable patience, they ever so slowly start to back wind off of the posts. With every millimeter of movement they gleefully note the increase of electrical resistance the loosening nuts make in the connections. They are so close now, and can feel the heat the ever increasing resistance creates with every use by the owner. They sense their devious plan is nearing completion, and the resistance is now so high, the heat is quickly melting the plastic. The anticipated demise of the bipeds on board is at hand. With a small final loosening movement, the plastic starts to smoke, and ignition is at hand. The owner then notices the smoke coming from under a seat, opens the compartment, spots the melting fuse holder, and turns off the battery switch breaking the connection. The aliens fume at being thwarted, but time is always on their side.

The Installer looks at the melted fuse holder and notes the fuse hasn't blown, and then shakes the cables, and they are loose. He takes one of the nuts, and finds he can turn it by hand, as well as the other one. "What's up with this, someone at the factory must have forgotten to tighten them up, the owner is lucky a fire didn't start.", the Installer ruefully thinks to himself. He puts in a new fuse holder, and fuse, and makes sure the connections are extra tight. He looks at the old fuse holder nuts, and muses to himself, "These nuts are perfectly okay", and tosses them in his bag to use elsewhere. The alien presences bide their time, they know another opportunity is now coming.

Nothing like disclosures to ruin a a good story, I was happy with it as it was. One pragmatic aspect of Ohm's law, obliquely stated, is as the contact area of an electrical connection decreases, the resistance increases. Increased resistance causes heat, and if the resistance is high enough, things can get really hot, or as I like to call it "The electric toaster theory of operation". So in the end, make sure your electrical connections are very tight, and secure.

All right all ready, that isn't really a photo of an alien spore, but a photo of a Symian virus, and is believed to be the cause of AIDS. I found it on Wikipedia and it was uploaded by user Phoebus87. It looks cool, and alien doesn't it?


  1. I just love your articles Bill! Please keep them coming!

    PS- Got any advice on which plotter/sounder to buy for a 22' center console?



  2. Thanks Charles, what make, model, and year?


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