Jed Rothwell : That's what I say to you young wiper-snappers.
I haven't been called a whipper-snapper in ... what .. 40 years or more !
I do admit to being more of a reformed physicist than a reformed chemist.
My background :
B.Sc. -- Physics and Math (1963) One course in chemistry!
B.Sc Hons -- Physics (Yes .. it's a separate degree) (1965)
I operated an ionosonde (swept-frequency radar) for ionospheric research,
and built a Mills Cross radio telescope (with which I observed the 1420 Mhz
hydrogen emission of the Galaxy. Either that, or a plot of the temperature of the
M.Sc. -- Radio Astronomy (1967) -- Jodrell Bank
Yes, I've walked in the bowl (when parked) and climbed to the focal point to test a new
antenna feed I'd designed. http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/images/2007/10/05/lovell_clouds_450_450x330.jpg
The place was famous and got a lot of mail .. congratulatory and crank.
Professor (later Sir) Bernard Lovell insisted that every letter was answered
The crank letters were delegated to staff, who delegated them to students,
to politely point out any scientific errors.
Ph.D. -- Computer Science (it wasn't called that, back then) (1970).
I have to point out that I'm Units-confused. I suffered changes from FPS, to cgs, to MKS to SI .... so my memory of physical constants is very haphazard.
(I would have been perfectly at home in NASA ...)
Since then I've been involved with Computer Aided Design / Electronic Design Automation, but I've retained an active interest in science in general and "fringe" science in particular.
The other influence was, of course, SF Quoting from a post I made on the well -- my online home :
science 663: Cosmology and the Universe
# 591 of 1246: Repeal the Law of Gravity. Tue 08 Jan 2008 (10:48 AM)
The 'next best thing' will quite possibly come from the fringes/crackpot zone rather than main-stream academia.
I remember an SF story from a LONG time ago .. about a father whose son crawled under his bed and -- due to a some anomalous configuration of matter -- opened into another dimension. Various scientists and government officials arrived and pondered -- but the father eventually just reached through, groped around and pulled the kid out. (I don't remember if the gap closed up). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Girl_Lost Richard Matheson from his short story published in The Shores of Space (1953) I thought of this with respect to both cold fusion and Podkletnov's home-brewed superconducting rotating disk antigravity generator. Maybe it wasn't fake, and depended on some unknown crystal configuration. Similarly, the cold fusion effects depend heavily on the structure on the cathode. Some batches are 'hot', some are 'cold'.