Re: Goo prophylaxis

The Low Golden Willow (
Wed, 27 Aug 1997 12:44:53 -0700 (PDT)

On Aug 27, 11:16am, Carl Feynman wrote:

} Organic stuff is mostly carbon, bonded to other carbons, and to hydrogens.
} Diamond is carbon bonded to carbon. The carbon atoms in the two cases have
} the same energy, but the hydrogen that you throw away in going to diamond
} can be reacted with air to release water and enormous amounts of energy.

First point: there's energy in more than the bonds. Diamond is higher
energy than graphite on the surface; it's kinetics that prevent diamond
from decaying into lower forms of carbon. I don't know if these
magnitudes are comparable to bond energies, but I don't think diamond
and charcoal can be treated the same.

Second point: I don't know if "energy" is entirely the right
concept. As I remember, reactions are thermodynamically favored if the
free energy of the reaction is negative:
dG= dH - T*dS
G being free energy, H being enthalpy, T being temperature, and S being
entropy. I think I can safely say that diamond has a lower entropy than
coal, meaning dG would be more positive, and less likely to happen.
I don't know what the entropy of living organisms or nanite structures
would be like. Both lower than coal, presumably.

Burning stuff gives energy, -dH, but turning it into diamond would be a
negative dS, giving -dH - (-) giving -dH + something, which may well be
a positive dG, and thus non-spontaneous.

I have no intuition about buckytube nanites, which these days might seem
easier to make anyway.

} Chemically speaking, this is the process that forms charcoal by burning wood
} with insuffcient air. A diamondoid goo attacking a forest would probably
} look like a wildfire that left living charcoal in its wake.

Thank you! Let's think about this. What happens to charcoal if you
light it in oxygen? What happens to very finely powdered charcoal if
you light it in oxygen? I've said before that very small and rapidly
moving particles of carbon residing in oxygen while exposed to UV seemed
somewhat flammable. Maybe nanites wouldn't spontaneously combust. But
methinkest that my first answer to Nicholas should have been "oh, I'm
being attacked by a sea of gray goo? I'll toss out a burning match..."
Flamethrowers also exist.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

"Ah hates crickets...He is as invisible as God but with a MUCH louder
voice." -- JMS