We Can’t Switch To Electric Cars Until We Get More Copper

Reducing emissions from human activity requires a great deal of effort in many different sectors. When it comes to land transport, the idea is generally to eliminate vehicles powered by combustion engines and replace them with electric vehicles instead. At a glance, the job is simple enough. We know how to build EVs, and the technology is getting to the point where they’re capable of replacing traditional vehicles in many applications.

Of course, the reality is not so simple. To understand the problem of converting transportation to electric drive en masse, you have to take a look at the big numbers. Focus in on the metrics of copper, and you’ll find the story is a concerning one. 

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Building A Glowing Demon Core Lamp

The so-called Demon Core was a cursed object, a 6.2 kilogram mass of plutonium intended to be installed in a nuclear weapon. Instead, slapdash experimental techniques saw it feature in several tragic nuclear accidents and cause multiple fatalities. Now, you can build yourself a lamp themed after this evil dense sphere.

A later recreation of the infamous “Slotin Accident” that occurred with the Demon Core. Credit: Public Domain, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Creator [skelly] has designed the lamp to replicate the Slotin incident, where the spherical Demon Core was placed inside two half-spheres of beryllium which acted as neutron reflectors to allow it to approach criticality. Thus, the core is printed as a small sphere which is thin enough to let light escape, mimicking the release of radiation that doomed Louis Slotin. The outer spheres are then printed in silvery PLA to replicate the beryllium half-spheres. It’s all assembled atop a stand mimicking those used in the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1940s.

To mimic the Core’s deadly blue glow, the build uses cheap LED modules sourced from Dollar Tree lights. With the addition of a current limiting resistor, they can easily be run off USB power in a safe manner.

The Demon Core has become a meme in recent times, perhaps as a new generation believes themselves smart enough not to tinker with 6.2 kilograms of plutonium and a screwdriver. That’s not to say there aren’t still dangerous nuclear experiments going on, even the DIY kind. Be careful out there!

Electromagnetic Field Drops 2022 Talk Videos

Earlier this year we made the journey to a field in the West of England for the Electromagnetic Field hacker camp. It was the usual few days of fun in the open air, but due to a few technical difficulties we were unable to point you to any of the talks. We’re happy to note that now the dust has settled they are uploading talks, and there are a decent number up on YouTube with more to come.

Paging through the talks uploaded so far, and there’s plenty to get your teeth into. We’ll start with a couple that should be viewed as a pair,  [Robin Wilson] on UK railway signalling, and [Anthony Williams] giving us a crash course in railway safety, and then while we’re on a railway theme continue to [Hugh Wells] on hacking the train ticket system. Those first two amply demonstrate the best in our community, in that here are professionals sharing knowledge with us we’d never hear without working in that field.

Another esoteric talk that’s typical of a hacker camp schedule and which should be of interest to anyone who has wrestled with time synchronization comes from [John Dalziel], who gives us a brief history of time zones and daylight saving time. A talk that had me riveted during a train journey though came from [Cybergibbons], who describes penetration testing at a cruise ship scale.

These are just a few of the ones uploaded thus far, and as this is being written there are more appearing. So keep checking and you’ll see some really good ones. Meanwhile, have a read of our report from the event.