Tom Veatch

Flames of inspiration often leave smoke signals behind.
From mine, these.


Veatch 1991, English Vowels

A U Penn dissertation in Linguistics comprising acoustic physics, articulatory phonetics, surface phonology, dialectology, and historical linguistics, all regarding that most-understood niche in knowledge of that most-interesting species, us.

N+V Humor Theory

Veatch's 1998 "A Theory of Humor"

Self-focusing lasers

Soileau, Franck, and Veatch, 1981, On Self-Focusing and Spot-Size Dependence of Laser-Induced Breakdown. pp385-393 of Laser Induced Damage in Optical Materials: 1980, proceedings of a Symposium Sponsored by the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder Colorado.

Not laser-like focus on self as in the later Veatch, but as in actual lasers doing self-focusing, in which the concentrated laser energy is so great that the material it focusses onto heats itself up and the heat changes its optical properties so light beams don't just cross through at that point but they bend back again and again after the focal point. It doesn't just focus to its focus but keeps on staying focussed at a tiny focal point or line, sometimes producing a tiny explosion as a line or as spots or pops or explosions all in a line inside the material. Nice. Both actually and metaphorically. In which I pressed the Fire button many many times, watching for a bright light, and recording the outcome. In which, further, we discovered that lasers don't actually explode things as much as we hoped.

This was Star Wars fundamental research, which if successful would enable lasers to shoot down satellites, or equivalently, to blind them. The fact that we were working on it, I mean our side of the Cold War, that mere fact alone, was itself enough of a threat to the Soviet Union (the results could have been positive; imagine the military consequences to the USSR!) that they were forced to seriously compete in military R&D and expenditure at the cost of their social, educational, and cultural budgets -- the driving reason they lost the Cold War.

So don't say negative outcomes in research are worthless.

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Modified: 12/20/2021