In relation to a discussion I had recently, this might be interesting.
I had a discussion about possible "energy emitting" rocks, with some friends.
At some point, one of them remarked that "energy emitting" rocks were all the fashion,
back in the 1600-1900s, and he remembered one that his grandpa had kept locked away in a small chest, and had shown him when he had been a small boy.
He described it as a small lump of rock resembling dirty ferrite mixed with feltspar and mica, but with the odd
characteristic of emitting a bright blueish white light continuously, while it sometimes seemed to "pulsate" a bit.
Recently he asked around the family but nobody seems to know where the rock went.
Obviously interested, I tried to get as much info from him as possible, while I recounted the story of Moray and his
mysterious "Swedish stone". That stone, which Moray used in his amplifying power circuits, had the odd characteristics of being a crystal and as such it could be used as a crystal radio detector element, and at the same time it amplified the radio signals with significant amounts of power, with no apparent energy source.
Later is was found that Morays stone probably contained light beta radioactive elements, as well as high intensity short halflife radioactive compounds. The (stimulated) beta- and electron-emissions were probably the source of the amplifying power, and the crystal structure with its inherent instabilities was probably why the detector functioned quite well.
Would replicating such a rock give us a cool new power source? No.
At least, not an efficient one, nor a very safe one.
Could we make a type of rock that is somewhat similar, and still outputs significant energy?
Yes. We can make a ceramic that contains a significant amount of beta-radioactive material.
Beta particles are electrons emitted from a beta-radioactive material. What we would in fact be making,
is a form of atomic battery. Those have been known for quite a long time.
In theory, on can simply take a certain amount of beta-radioactive material like Cesium, and coat this in an isolator.
Now put another layer of conductor around this, and the beta particles emitted by the Cesium will pass through the
isolator and end up in the conductor, where they behave just like ordinary electrons. This transfer causes to Cesium to lose one electron charge, thereby becoming relatively more positive, and the conductor to gain one elecgron charge, thereby becoming relatively negatively charged. The electric charge gained in the conductor will tend to move toward the positive "pole", in this case the Cesium material, so we need to connect the outer conductor layer to the Cesium via a wire, which will then show current.
For those interested in beta-batteries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_battery
It is not hard to conceive of a material that shows such beta-emission characteristics. It is also not difficult to imagine how such a material, if included in the composition of a crystalline oscillator material sensitive to specific frequencies, might produce regular bursts or pulses of radiation and/or electrical charge output. Now to combine a phosphoric substance to the crystalline matrix which allows these bursts of energy to be transformed into bursts or flashes of light, is also not too difficult to imagine.
I propose that the rock witnessed by this firend of mine was some such type of rock. A natural (beta-)radioactive phosphorescent crystal.
I also suggest this is not the way we want to proceed in order to replicate "electrical rocks", because beta batteries can be made in a more efficient manner, and because they still run out when the radioactivity starts to eb away. Do we want to make a betavoltaic battery that dies after its halflife has passed?
I'm not really looking to build that... Unless of course it's extremely cheap to build and can put out comparatively large amounts of power... But as far as I can figure, betaradioactive cesium is also not the cheapest material.
Seems to me we'd better look at energies that are abundant and could be used and transformed into usefull forms of energy.
Off the top of my head that's things like random heat/temperature fluctuations (brownian motion), random electromagnetic fluctuations (as in radio/micro/gamma wave frequency background radiation), gravitational fluctuations, zero point energy fluctuations, and things like that.
One might think of using the resonant motions of the electrons in ferro material, "pushed" by a permanent ferrite magnet, to "drive" the oscillation of a chemically connected quartz matrix, which is in turn connected through a np-diode bridge rectifyer, and to a capacitor.
Of course it's just a rough 'scetch', but something like that might just work, and use the permanent magnet's constant electron rotations to produce an output.
One might also consider the possibility of mercury reacting heavily to slight fluctuations in temperature or incoming radiation, and the possibility to rectify any of those fluctuations again... But mercury is quite unhealthy so might not be the best plan to play with...
At the moment I am conducting some experiments with a few different types of Silicate, and Aluminium, in an attempt to produce
a Sialate-type compound, for geopolymer based tests of certain substance mixes.
I am planning to do some kiln experiments when I have access to a 1000+ degree kiln, which should be within the coming year.
Replicating one of Ians cookie-baking recipes might be an interesting little project in between.
Any additional comments on your cookie or on the above, Ian?