Dr. Gribbleflotz' office, HDG Enterprizes, Jena
Phillip took the next letter from his inbox. It was marked personal, and checking the back, he could see it was from his American friend, Jonathan Fortney. He broke the seal and started reading. He had to smile. Jonathan could be quite droll. The suggestion that his new wife might want to spend all his money on fine jewelry was clearly a joke. His Dina wasn't like that. "Hmmm, instructions on making synthetic rubies and sapphires attached." Always interested in the American cheat sheets, he checked through the bundle of pages until he came across the notes.
There were several pages, so he checked the time. "Plenty of time for a quick glance before lunch."
" . . . Corundum, a mineral consisting of aluminum oxide, Al2O3 . . . "
"What?" Phillip stared hard at the paper in his hands. "Ruby and sapphire are a form of aluminum?" He turned to look up at his model of the aluminum pyramid with the strategically placed faceted gems. Gems that included rubies and sapphires.
He slammed a fist down on his desk. It felt so good he did it again, and again.
A slightly worried Maria Blandina poked her head through the doorway. She could see her husband standing over his desk, and it looked as if he'd been pounding it with his fist. "Are you all right, Phillip? I heard some banging."
"Yes, Dina. Everything's all right. I have just realized why my special pyramid doesn't work. It's not the members that are supposed to be aluminum. It is the facetted gems. Of course it didn't work. With both the facetted gems and the structure itself made of aluminum, there was no balance."
Dina relaxed. It was just a problem with his aluminum pyramid. Not that she understood Phillip's fascination with pyramids, but if her brilliant husband was interested in them, they had to be important. "That's very nice, Phillip," and just to prove she had been listening, she asked a question. "What should the structure be made of?"
Phillip sighed. "I don't know. I'll have to research various materials until I find the one that gives balance." He stopped speaking and looked at Dina with some concern. "Darling, you're looking a bit pale. Do you feel unwell?"
Dina didn't feel all that well, in fact. "Perhaps it's a bit warm in here."
It had been Dina's American friend, Gerry Stone, who started it. Phillip had been teaching a group of laborants the new science when Gerry disagreed with something he said. The laborants had been aghast and horrified that someone should disagree with him. If it had been anybody but the Frau Kastenmayerin's friend, Gerry Stone, of the House of Stone, Phillip was sure blood might have flowed. But Gerry had raised some interesting questions. They had entered into a lively debate, moving into the seminar room so Gerry could use the blackboard to explain his interpretation of the new science. Soon senior laborants joined in. Then, hesitantly at first, the junior laborants had started asking questions.
After that, Phillip's teaching seminars had turned into in-house seminars where anybody could stand up and talk about what they were doing or hoped to do. The lively discussions had forced Phillip to work even harder on his reading of the American text books so that he could answer the laborants' questions.
The gentle hubbub of conversation petered to a halt as Phillip, notes in hand, made his way to the podium. Today's seminar was about the current status of his exploration of the invigoration of the Quinta Essentia of the Human Humors.
Phillip knew that some of his laborants didn't believe that he would ever be able to invigorate the Quinta Essentia, but one day he hoped to prove them wrong. Until then, any idea was a useful teaching tool. He had to prepare himself for any possible question the audience might ask, and the laborants had to understand the new science well enough to ask intelligent questions.
While Phillip stood behind the podium checking his notes, Hans Saltzman and another laborant erected the stand holding the book of flip sheets he had prepared for this presentation. He waited patiently for the laborant to return to his seat and for Hans to place a cloth covered stand beside the podium. When Hans indicated he was ready Phillip turned to his expectant audience.
"Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for coming for this seminar. As you all know, I have been investigating the invigoration of the Quinta Essentia of the Human Humors. I have high hopes for my research, but, as I'm sure you know, there have been problems." He answered the many grins and smiles with a smile of his own.
"My scale model pyramid," he waited while Hans pulled away the dust cloth to reveal the scale model aluminum pyramid, "failed to invigorate the Quinta Essentia of the Humors in selected laboratory animals. My first thought was that the framework of my pyramid," he ran a finger along the metal frame of his model, "was constructed of impure aluminum. The Americans confirmed this. Of course I immediately demanded that they provide me with pure aluminum." Phillip waited for the light laughter to settle. He doubted anybody believed he had demanded anything. His views on dominating American females were well known. "They in turn told me that they were currently unable to produce pure aluminum. Which reminds me," he searched his audience for a familiar face. "Kurt, what progress are you making with the aluminum project?"
Kurt Stoltz answered from where he was seated at the back of the seminar room. "Slowly, sir. We've successfully produced some cryolite. However, to make enough to try and make aluminum, we'll have to make larger batches of hydrofluoric acid, and well, we're still experiencing difficulties producing suitable vessels that the acid won't dissolve. You'll remember what happened to Jochim Fritsch."
Phillip swallowed. The surgeons had been forced to amputate Jochim's right arm below the elbow. It had been a very high price to pay for a moment's carelessness with hydrofluoric acid, and the accident only reinforced his belief that he wanted nothing to do with the stuff. "How is Jochim?"
"The stump has healed well, Doctor. And he is becoming amazingly dexterous with his hook."
"Very good, Kurt. I'd like you to continue experimenting with the hydrofluoric acid, just be extremely careful. Now, where was I?"
"Pure aluminum for the framework of your pyramid, Herr Doctor," Hans Saltzman, his personal assistant, volunteered.
"Thank you, Hans. Right, pure aluminum." Phillip found his place in his notes. "Lacking pure aluminum, I was forced to shelve the project until such time as it became available. However," He paused dramatically. "There has been a new development. Recently, a good friend of mine in Grantville sent me a 'cheat sheet' on the production of rubies and sapphires." Phillip smiled at the sudden shifting of bodies on seats. "Yes, that is correct. The Americans know how to make gems. But that wasn't the most important aspect. No. What I found interesting was the identity of the major components of the gems. Corundum, also known as aluminum oxide."
There were noisy intakes of breath as various members of the audience realized the significance of this discovery. "Yes," Phillip agreed. "If both the gems and the structural members were aluminum, then the pyramid was out of balance." He shook his head in disgust. "All that time and effort wasted because of a lack of such basic knowledge." He gave his audience a searching stare. "And let that be a lesson to you all. Make sure you know the composition of everything you intend using before you commence your experiment. It will save you considerable disappointment. I speak from experience." Phillip gave his model pyramid a gentle pat before indicating to Hans that he should cover it again.
"This brings me to the current state of my research into the invigoration of the Quinta Essentia. Obviously the members can not be formed of aluminum. Which begs the question, what should the members be made of?" He nodded for Hans to reveal the first page of the flip book.
"The human spirit is embodied within the mind, even if the spirit itself is not physically of the mind. But as the various experiments of the various scientists have proven, as my own extensive electrical experimentation has shown, the mind, and therefore the spirit embodied within the mind is effected by electrics."
Phillip walked around his electrical demonstrations. "The external gross electrics of the sparks of the Wimshurst machine . . . " He patted the machine before moving to the batteries. " . . . the more subtle electrics of the various batteries . . . " He flicked a switch completing a circuit, turning on a weak light. " . . . all have their effects on the spirit, but the electrical nature of the mind, and of the spirit actually happens at far too minute, far too small a level for these gross manipulations to effect with the subtlety that is needed to perfect the union of mind and spirit. This happens at a microscopic, or as the learned ones of the future said, a quantum level."
Phillip, now well into the swing of things, indicated that Hans should show the next page. "Now, as Oerstaed proved, electric is linked to magnetic." After a moment to check that his audience was following, he moved over to the large chart of the elements the Americans called the Periodic Table. "Free flowing electrons found in electric metals such as, nickel, copper, silver and gold, platinum, cadmium and cobalt . . . " He tapped each element with his pointer as he named them. " . . . will be strongly influenced by the magnetic potentials. But in all things, balance is the most needed. The metals with poor electric potentials like zinc and tin are too difficult to effect to provide the balance needed by the body. Similarly, the freely electric metals like copper and gold and yes, even aluminum, do not provide enough resistance to the electrons. Only in the middle do we find the needed balance, and that balance is most favorably found in nickel."
Hans flipped the next sheet revealing the important facts about nickel. "A framework of nickel can intercept the grosser variations of the magnetic influences, while allowing penetration, and indeed, influence of the geomagnetic forces which link our spirits to the world."
Phillip let his eyes roam over his audience. Everyone appeared to be deeply interested. "One might think that iron would be preferred, since iron is so often thought of as magnetic." He shook his head. "But one would be wrong. A balance is required. Iron is too magnetic for the Quinta Essentia humanum to be distilled. Aluminum, for all its other virtues is utterly transparent to the grosser magnetism. No, it is in nickel that we find the balance of free electrons and magnetic potentials which provide the shielding from those grosser variations while allowing the quantum development of the magnetic vector potentials which influence the human body at the quantum level. With this, we can look for behaviors, expressions, dreams, or fantasies, which express the true nature of this elimination of the quantum distortion."
Phillip smiled at his audience. "Nickel is a new metal, but not unknown. It should be easy to obtain a supply of the required ore. In fact, I have already sent an order to Annaberg for ore for research purposes."
He held up his hands to silence the sudden noisy intake of breath. It was obvious that many in the audience well remembered what happened the last time he'd ordered ore for research purposes. "Do not panic. I learned my lesson with Sphalerite. That mistake will not be repeated. I placed the order with Ostermann Transport using the new scientific unit of kilograms."
"What ore are we talking about, Herr Doctor?"
Phillip located the source of the question. "Kupfernickel." He nodded at the shocked looks he received. "Yes, that's right. The miners in Annaberg are dumping nickel ore. The price I was offered was," Phillip exchanged grins with Hans Saltzman, "extremely attractive. I am approaching completion of my calculations, and hope to soon begin the effort to produce the needed nickel members. Now, are there any questions?"
Michael Siebenhorn, Kurt Stoltz, and Hans Saltzman walked out of the seminar room together. "So, Hans, what does the good doctor know about making gems? Will he be trying to do it himself?"
Hans squinted at the sun, then adjusted his pale blue Gribbleflotz "gimme" cap. "I don't think so, Kurt. He's intensely interested in making his nickel pyramid. He feels he's very close to proving his theory."
"I've spoken to several Americans about his investigations, Hans. Most of them laughed. None of them believe such a thing is possible."
"I've heard the same, but that is no reason not to support his researches. One never knows. Maybe the Americans are wrong. We won't know until the doctor runs his experiments."
"In the meantime, Hans, what can you tell us about Kupfernickel?" Michael asked.
Outside St. Martin's in the Fields a few days later
Phillip was worried about how he would be received by Dina's parents. It had come as a shock, but a pleasant shock, to discover that Dina had had no idea that he was a wealthy man. It was nice to know she had married him for the man he was and not what he could offer. However, her friend Herr Stone had indicated that Dina's parents had heard rumors that he was some kind of charlatan. Herr Stone had quickly assured him that they didn't believe these rumors. This news should have reassured Phillip. And maybe it would have, if Herr Stone hadn't expressed an interest in seeing his doctorate.
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- The Grantville Gazette Staff