1. Lydia
    Offline

    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,915
    Likes Received:
    233
    Location:
    Somewhere out there.

    How to make lots of steel disappear in a pretty short time.

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Lydia, May 19, 2010.

    Question:

    Does someone know a quick way to... hmm... dissolve steel? Well maybe dissolve is not the right word, but it has to be something that would make it disappear pretty fast... In my case it's some kind of high (18 meters) beam that's supposed to be a statue (well, never mind on the details) that has to suddenly disappear during the night, so preferably not too much noise and light.



    (I guess that rules thermite out. :p)
     
  2. Humour Whiffet
    Offline

    Humour Whiffet Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    United Kingdom

    Q. How do you make steel vanish? A. Steal it...

    I’m serious though. Metal theft is common when scrap metal prices rise. Here is an extract from wiki:

    “There have been many stories of metal theft; a bronze statue of former Olympic champion Steve Ovett disappeared from Preston Park in Brighton[25] and church bells in Devon were stolen by thieves[26]. A statue made by Henry Moore was stolen from a museum in 2006 and believed to have been melted down for scrap.[27] Churches, especially older churches, suffer as 'lead theft' from church (and other) roofs is on the rise,[28] although some police do not take it seriously.[29]”
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Someone creeps in and, umm, steals it?

    Matter can neither be created nor destoyed, so unless you want an equal or greater amount of residue, there's really no way. There are no gaseous forms of iron at ordinary temperatures, so it must be removed. Now, unless you have a Doctor Alchemy who can transmute it to nitrogen, someone will need to carry the full mass of it away, plus anything you intend to react with it, and any such reaction is bound to give off a lot of heat, considering the quantity of metal you need to react.
     
  4. Halcyon
    Offline

    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    England
    Lydia

    Steel is composed mainly of iron, and as such will respond to a magnet.

    So, maybe a giant magnet lowered from above from a plane?

    Wouldn't be so quiet an operation though. ;)
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Not to mention picking up a few stray cars and trucks, and damaging the structure of nearby buildings. We are talking about one powerful magnet!
     
  6. Halcyon
    Offline

    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    England
    No, Cogito, this magnet is targeted with great precision!

    It requires a leap of imagination, but a lot of great fiction does! ;)
     
  7. Mantha Hendrix
    Offline

    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Northern Ireland... the place I've taken for grant
    The only thing I can think of is if it's stolen... unless you want to be extremely supernatural, then you can say it just vanished... into a wormhole, lol.
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    teleportation!
     
  9. Lankin
    Offline

    Lankin Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Germany
    Don't actually think so. You use an electromagnet anyway, so you don't drag it over parked cars and so on.

    F, the force exerted by the magnet, equals something with I² (the current in the winding) in the numerator, but with L² (the total length of the magnetic field path) in the denominator. Look up Wikipedia, Electromagnetism on this, what you are looking for is "Closed magnetic circuit", describing an electromagnet sticking to a piece of iron, e.g..


    The problem with magnetism (why we cannot so easily use the earth's magnetic field as a power source, e.g.) is: Think of a magnet sticking to the fridge. Over very short distances the magnetic force makes it stick to the surface like hell; at just a very small distance away, you have nearly no effect.


    So .. either you go and calculate the magnetic force you need to lift your statue, and if the I² you need requires a private power plant for your enterprise .... Or you just phone up a scrap yard and ask the guys concerned with the practical side of lifting lumps of metal with electromagnets :)

    ***
    Ah, just some off-key thought, don't know how serious the story is going to be. The mentioning of "thermite" above made me remember "mites" haha ... There is actually a Duck Tales episode where Dagobert's entire gold is threatened to be eaten my metal mites. Check out "DuckTales - Attack of the Metal Mites" on youtube for inspiration. :)
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Magnet or electromagnet, the magnetic force obeys an inverse square law with distance. So a magnet powerful enough to lift several tons of steel will still exert a powerful magnetic force on other nearby objects.

    For an electromagnet, you'll need a powerful (i.e. large and heavy) generator in your helicopter as well. Someone is bound to notice the huge, noisy twin-rotor cargo helicopter overhead.

    You might do with a smaller helicopter if you drop a cable instead and secure it to the statue in a more convebtional way. Still noisy though, and better hope it doesn't swing against any buildings as you raise it (harder than it sounds). I still think it would be very difficult to avoid notice.

    If you want to maintain stealth, you may need magic or some advanced technology (Asgard beaming technology, microwormholes, freezing time, etc.)
     
  11. Lankin
    Offline

    Lankin Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Germany
    Actually.. have you got to steal it in one piece? The aforementioned thermite could come in handy here.
    Never actually seen it at work, but what wikipedia says doesn't sound particularly noisy:
    That would make the problem, and so, the weight, the load and everything smaller, if you, say, manage to cut up in 5 pieces. Also your helicopters can fly faster with their booty, so they could put up some distance before someone notices :)

    And .. concerning
    ...inverse square law with distance. So as I understand that, an example:
    You have a magnet so powerful that it lifts 10 tons of steel, lets not even say on contact, because distances =0 are complicated, but at 10 cm distance.
    At 20 cm distance it would only be able to lift 2.5 tons of steel, double distance, a quarter of the weight.
    at 40 cm only 625g (a ton beeing 1000 kg)

    At a comfortable distance as that of a parking car, let's say 10m away:
    comparing 10cm, at which distance the magnet is able to lift 10 tons with a 10m distance
    10m/0.1m = 100 times the distance
    100² is 10 000, so the force exerted is only 1/10 000 of the 10 tons-lifting capacity. That is only 1kg then, if I'm not mistaken.
    And.. you don't need a magnet this strong, because it needs to only work more or less on contact, so if you got 1 cm distance instead of the assumed 10 cm, you got this another times /100 .

    The bigger problem as i see it is still to find a helicopter that can carry a weight like that. I found a number like 20t cargo load is possible, for about a range of 320 km... Not bad for a start. Make the statue hollow inside, would be my advice.
     
  12. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thermite burns at a very high temperature, and the intense white of the flame would turn night into day. It he quanties needed, it would burn with a roar. You would need a container to receive the molten steel and burning thermite - it's hot enough to burn a hole through concrete.
     
  13. Lankin
    Offline

    Lankin Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Germany
    I've been doing a bit of internet research, for lifting up to 3tons you don't even need a special power source attached, seemingly. I will pm you a link, you could just ask the manufacturer :) The rest is more or less based on 24V DC which shouldn't be such a big problem.
    ***
    Annotation: You need a far less powerful magnet indeed because these things only function at a distance of practiacally 0, means on touch. A smooth, even surface is preferrable here of course. Even a layer of paint lowers the lifting power by factor 2 or so.
     
  14. Lydia
    Offline

    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,915
    Likes Received:
    233
    Location:
    Somewhere out there.
    Thanks for all the replies, people! I'm thinking about several ideas at the moment and I'll tell when I've made up my mind. :)
     
  15. zaphod
    Offline

    zaphod Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    0
    Dig a hole under it
     
  16. Lankin
    Offline

    Lankin Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Germany


    That's great -- I favor that solution!
    After thinking about magnets so much, this morning while making coffee i just wondered ...
    Why not simply take a hook and a rope? ^^ Of course -- this variety is less dramatic.
     
  17. Halcyon
    Offline

    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    England
    My apologies for bringing magnetism into this discussion!

    It seemed like an attractive option to me, but some of you find it repulsive, and we are obviously poles apart on this one! :)
     
  18. Lydia
    Offline

    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,915
    Likes Received:
    233
    Location:
    Somewhere out there.
    Hmm, yeah, that idea crossed my mind already... it might work.

    Yeah, but I'm not sure if that would go with the statue build as it is... see picture below.

    I think we get it, Drew. ;)

    Here's a pic of the thing (yes, it actually is an existing object):

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Are you attempting to field this with irony? I applaud your puns, with some reluctance.

    Lydia, I gather this story arose from wishful thinking. :) As sculptures go, that is butt-ugly sterile. Looks more like part of someone's corporate logo.
     
  20. Lydia
    Offline

    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,915
    Likes Received:
    233
    Location:
    Somewhere out there.
    Haha, I agree it looks quite horrible, but it's actually based on what really happened- a few years ago that thing suddenly disappeared. Now I'm trying to make it into an interesting story... for that I have to figure out how it went missing. :p (I have little doubt that what truly happened to that statue is dreadfully boring.)
     
  21. Lankin
    Offline

    Lankin Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Germany
    But the idea had some attractivity to it ...
     
  22. garmar69
    Offline

    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,550
    Likes Received:
    26
    This may come off as retarded, but is your story set in the future? If so how about nanites that replicate as they ingest the steel until the entire structure is consumed, then your nanites coalesce into a utility fog and drift away to a predetermined location. :D
     
  23. Lydia
    Offline

    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,915
    Likes Received:
    233
    Location:
    Somewhere out there.
    Hehe, no it's not. :p Thanks for the idea though. :)
     
  24. Anonym
    Offline

    Anonym Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    292
    Likes Received:
    10
  25. Thanshin
    Offline

    Thanshin Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Spain
    1
    If it's in a real city, investigate the possibility of existing old sewer passages. In old european cities it's trivial to find several hundred year old sewage tunnels.

    2
    Bring a large container of fluoroantimonic acid or thermite.

    3
    Dig under the beam, leaving some undug part, and fill the hole with sand.

    4
    Dig the last part, let the beam fall on the sand.

    5
    Slowly remove the sand, letting it go down the sewer passage.

    6
    As the bean comes down, start dissolving it and sending the dissolved matter down the sewers.

    6B
    If you melt it, drop the melted pieces into water to form roundish blocks that you can push down the sewers.
     

Share This Page