What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

On having to write a senior paper

I like going to school. I have a lifelong addiction to learning new stuff. Whenever I get the chance (whenever the work and family schedule has some flexibility), I try to take at least a couple of classes at a nearby college, adult ed-center, or university. I think the mind is like a shark; if it stops moving, it dies. Occasionally, I can even cobble together enough credits to earn a few more initials. Mostly, I like taking classes on anything that looks interesting at the moment just to keep the water moving past my gills.

After several years of part-time coursework at several institutions, I had accidentally accumulated enough credit hours to graduate with a degree in communication electronics. This wasn’t really the initial goal, it just happened that way. When my department chairman called me into his office to look over my transcripts and see if I was missing any requisite courses, he noted that I had not written a senior paper. I am senior. I have written papers, but I couldn’t disagree with that particular observation. He explained that a year earlier the English Department had gone to the Dean of Instruction and complained that students earning degrees in the technology area weren’t demonstrating adequate writing skills. In order to make sure that they could “compete in the workplace”; they had instituted a senior paper to be written by each graduating student before the degree could be granted. It would be graded by the respective Technology Department head for accuracy and by the English Department (I’m sure they got more money for this task!) for style and composition. He, then, handed me a sheet that dictated the length, style guide, and topic areas.

It would have been a bad pun to have referred to me as a graduating senior. I had spent years working in and around academia. I had cut my workplace teeth on “PhD’s With An Attitude”. Over that span of time, I have probably written enough papers, reports, proposals, and assessments to fill a small, but boring library. Writing a short formal paper on developments in the field of communication electronics was not a daunting assignment. On the other hand, I had never seen a job description for any solder jockey position that asked the applicant to submit “a novelette that is representative of your current creative endeavors”.

My department chair was no happier about this requirement than I. So, since he was the only one who had to vouch for the paper’s substance, I proposed a harmless bit of civil disobedience. I would write my senior paper. In style, length, and appearance, it would conform exactly to the guidelines. In substance, it would be a red herring. His only condition was that it had to be mathematically and technically "correct". I could have an absurd topic, but I had to be able to back it up with the facts.

In that spirit, I went home, wrote, and then submitted this paper. The hardest part about writing it was convoluting the double and triple negatives in the “Future Research” section to make certain that there it had no meaning whatsoever. I have had to change some of the original formatting to make it fit into this blog’s format (the font change still screwed up some of the math formulas, ah well). If you don’t know much about electronics, it is a bit hard to follow, but trust me – it says nothing. If you do know about electronics, I tried really hard to be “correct”; please forgive me for any artistic license. In a nutshell, my contention in this paper is that the moon’s gravitational field creates a micro-miniature tide effect on near microscopic electronic components. It is a silly contention and a goofy example of the Butterfly Effect. If you end up wondering about the author and philosopher, Konigsberg, who is quoted in the introduction, look in the references. A hint, the W. stands for Woody.

Periodic Satellite Oscillations With the Resultant Gravitational Variations
and the Potential Effect on the Resonant Frequency of Tuned Inductor/Capacitor Circuits


The conceptual framework for this research is difficult to explore without including a lengthy mathematical disquisition. The basic premise involves the cyclical effects of lunar oscillations and the resulting gravitational and magnetic permutation on the reactance values of tank circuit components at resonance. In brief, as the cycle reaches perigee the decreased distance from the gravitation center of the lunar body to the circuit components can cause an increase in the longitudinal or cross sectional value of inductors. To further complicate matters, there can be a corresponding change in the distance between the conducting plates of capacitors. There is an opposite but equal change that occurs at apogee.


At the fringes of our current understanding of the Electron Theory lies a strangely exciting phenomenon. The author and philosopher, A.S. Konigsberg (1971, p. 29), wrote that
"to know a substance or an idea we must doubt it, and thus, doubting it, come to perceive the qualities it possesses in its finite state, which are truly ' in the thing itself ', or ' of the thing itself ' or of something or nothing." In that spirit, this research promises to tamper with our understanding of the linear behavior of the Series/Parallel Frequency Resonant Circuit (LC).


The concept at the heart of this idea can be inferred from a portion of Newton's Law of Gravitation that finds that the distance from the center of any body is inversely proportional to the force of gravity on that object (Rothman, 1989). This effect can be seen most dramatically in the recurring tidal bulges that cause vast swells in the oceans of this planet at the point where the earth is closest to the lunar mass (Trefil, 1984). Tuned circuit components will have a given point of their structure closer to the gravitational center of the earth’s satellite than any other single point on the component body. Although the effects of gravitational pull on a planetary body are far more evident, they could still be present at the molecular and even atomic levels. This ubiquitous fundamental force (i.e., gravity) could theoretically affect the two most basic components of a series/parallel RLC circuit, the inductor and the capacitor.

Component Effects

Inductors found in many alternating current circuits derive a major influence on their reactance values (XL) from a combination of physical characteristics as seen in the formula, L = N2mA/l. Inductor values are the result of the permeability of the core material, length, cross sectional value, and number of turns (Floyd, 1995). Of greatest interest here are those physical characteristics that could be most affected by the application of gravitational forces, length and cross sectional value. Just as the oceans of the earth and even the earth itself is stretched toward the lunar body, so too, the physical length and cross sectional value of the inductor could be influenced by these same forces. The particular changes that might occur would be determined by a variety of factors, including component orientation, mass, and the degree value of the lunar period.

Capacitors found in many alternating current circuits derive a major component of their reactance values (XC) from the relationship between plate separation, plate area, and dielectric constant [C = AEr(8.85x10-12 F/m)/d] (Floyd, 1995). Unlike inductors, there is only one physical characteristic that is likely to be affected by gravitational forces - plate separation. The precise value of the change would be determined by the orientation of the capacitor and which plate surface was closest to the lunar body at any particular point.

Tuned circuit resonance, where the effect of changes in inductive and capacitive values can be seen, is described by the formula fr = 1/(2p òLC) (Malvino, 1999). It should be apparent from this formula that changes in either or both of these variables, inductance (L) and capacitance (C), can have a profound effect on the value of circuit resonance. Since tuned resonant circuits, both series and parallel are used in a wide of variety of audio, scientific, and communication equipment, the total ohmic value of these changes cannot even be measured with our current technology.

Adding to this conundrum, the earth/moon gravitational interaction is so complex and the lunar period is so extended, approximately 2425823.5652463 seconds (sidereal) that extensive time-consuming background research will be needed to quantify the impact on circuit performance. Nonetheless, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The examination of such a complex system requires a detailed and lengthy examination (Bradbury, 1998), which has not yet begun.

Future Research

This intriguing concept cannot but fail to attract a long list of highly respected research and lab facilities that are not currently planning to undertake extensive research and development projects in this area. This list is much too long to be included here, but it is safe to say that no major private or governmental research facility could be excluded. A major research hurdle to be overcome is the difficulties inherent in measuring precise values of change found in the resonant frequency of any particular circuit due to these complex, even arcane interactions. Relativistic effects (Hawkings, 1988) and the limitations found in Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle (Suplee, 1999) might place the final answers many years in the future. It is hoped that one day this research could lead to breakthroughs in areas from bioelectronics (ex. quantification of the lunar influence on emotional and mental impairments) to mathematics (ex. numerical systems to describe values many magnitudes smaller than are currently possible). As with any area of research that is so far outside of any reasoned frame of reference, there are no commercial applications for the foreseeable future.


Bradbury, R. H. (1998) The incursion dilemma: Is absence of evidence the same as evidence of absence? Paper presented to Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service Ballast Water Exchange Verification Workshop, Melbourne, March 3, 1998.
Retrieved March 21, 2002 from

Floyd, Thomas L. (1995). Electric Circuits Fundamentals. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Hawking, Stephen (1988). A Brief History of Time. New York, NY:Bantam.

Konigsberg, Allen Stewart (e.g. W. Allen) (1971). Getting Even.
New York, NY:Warner.

Malvino, Albert Paul (1999). Electronic Principles. Westerville, OH:McGraw-Hill.

Rothman, Milton A. (1989). Discovering the Natural Laws. Mineola, NY:Doubleday.

Trefil, James S. (1984). A Scientist At The Seashore. New York, NY:Macmillan.


Blogger Glory said...

Oh my--this is hilarious. I'll admit that I didn't read the whole thing, but nevertheless, a masterpiece. I'm interested in what feedback you got from the powers-that-be.

I teach a high school class called "Senior Projects." Among its many requirements is...the senior paper. They are atrocious. What I wouldn't give for a student with the spunk and creativity to writie something like this!

5/6/05 7:54 AM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

I don't know that anyone, other than the department chair and one or two of my profs who we let in on it after the fact(they got a big laugh out of it), ever figured out its true lack of meaning. I know that in the original format it had no red pen marks from the English Dept reviewer.

I was granted the degree cum laude.

5/6/05 9:18 AM  

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