Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Lightning Captured in Plastic


This Post was published originally on 1/26/2020.

For unknown reasons it failed to appear on my Blog page.

If you read it previously, I apologize for my confusion.

Lightning caught inside Plastic

 Ben Franklin tried to “catch lightning in a bottle” to charge a Leyden cell in 1752. From Ben’s basic research, primitive as it was, he coined terms we still use today -- capacitor, dielectric, and electrician. The key term for today is “dielectric.”

Ben demonstrated the dielectric (glass) held the “charge” from the lightning inside the Leyden cell (foil lined glass-bottle.) Modern physics defines a “dielectric” as a substance or medium that can sustain a static electric charge within it. (That same “static spark” kids find when rubbing their feet on a wool carpet and touch another.)


In the early 70’s, I conducted medical research using linear accelerators to create electron beams to find medical benefits. One of the “Gee Whiz” things we did in the lab was to use a large piece of Lexan plastic as a target for the electron beam. Lexan is a “dielectric.” When the beam passed through the Lexan it charged the dielectric with 65-kV of energy. When the electron beam passed through, the Lexan glowed with an internal light called “Cerenkov Radiation.”

Sci-fi fans may recognize some of these terms from early Star Trek and sci-fi novels. “Captain, the reactor is leaking. Its glowing with Cerenkov Radiation.” Or “Jim, the flux capacitor needs to recharge before we can go to warp speed.” (If interested in Cerenkov Radiation, Google it and look at Dr. Don Lincoln’s excellent YouTube video with a minimum of technical details.)

As Ben Franklin discovered, the dielectric holds its charge. The “tree” that appears inside the Lexan in the above photo was created inside when its 65-kV charge was shorted to ground at a point on its base. The internal electric energy sought the easiest path to “ground” and melted a path inside the Lexan as it burned its way through. Like true “lightning,” it flashed and dissipated in an eye blink.

The “tree” captures the effect of a lightning cloud-strike to ground with about the same energy as it recreated for Ben Franklin’s “Lightning in a bottle.”

Fortunately for the United States, Ben didn’t pursue his scientific interests and joined the group seeking independence from Great Britain. Ben Franklin was the only founder to sign all four founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance (with France), the Treaty of Peace between Great Britain, France and the United States, and the U.S. Constitution.

 I hope you found my bit of nostalgia enlightening. (Pun intended.)

 Meanwhile back at the “ranch,” I’m busy working on two new westerns series and a collection of western short stories.

Thanks for riding along,

Frank Kelso

Merry Christmas to All

This Post was published originally on 12/21/2020.

For unknown reasons it failed to appear on my Blog page.

If you read it previously, I apologize for my confusion.

 Merry Christmas to All!

 As part of my book launch in Nov, I hosted a FB Launch Party on LitRing’s Facebook page.

The theme was “Westerns,” and the “Yellowstone” series. About 600 people attended on-line as we (LitRing, my publisher, and I) gave away over $200 in prizes to those folks posting on-line. I asked lots of open-ended question to get people participating. A popular question was “who/what was your favorite TV western show/personality”?

 I mentioned Gene Autry was a big favorite at our house because one snowy Christmas in Kansas City, MO in 1942, Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, and a trio of women singers played a two-night gig. (Gene was a BIG Movie Star in those days.) My Dad knew the theater manager and arranged for a few of us to visit backstage before the first show. Never bashful, after listening to the entertainers’ complain about living “out of a suitcase” and eating “hotel food,” Dad invited the whole troupe to our house for a home-style family meal.

 Mom and Dad were doctors, and at the time all seven children lived at home. My two oldest brothers were just discharged from the military and at home. We had a large 6-bedroom two-story home with a banquet-sized dining room, and a full-time cook.

 Gene Autry was coaxed into joining the troupe and stayed until 10 PM when my oldest brother drove him to his hotel in downtown. Gene was a cordial, soft-spoken man. He and my Dad swapped a few stories. (Some of them may have even been true.) Smiley and the woman’s trio spent the night at our house. At the end of the meal, Dad’s favorite expression was, “Eat all the food from your plate – what you don’t finish goes in your pancakes in the morning.”

 Smiley Burnette and my mother hit it off and they stayed in touch with one another for years after Dad passed. She visited him several times on the set of “Petticoat Junction,” a mid-60s TV show where Smiley, as usual, played the comic relief before he passed in 1967. The trio from Southern California had never seen snowfall before and my older brothers took trio sledding in Penn Valley Park as the woman wore the middle kids’ winter gear.

 The next morning, our cook, Suzie, fixed bacon, eggs, hash-browns, and pancakes. One of Suzie’s specialties was pancakes with whole-kernel-corn in the batter. After biting into one of the corn-pancakes, one of the women’s trio said, “WOW! Doctor Dan wasn’t kidding! He put last night’s leftovers in my pancakes.”

 The Christmas visit by Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, and the trio is one of my family’s traditional memories at Christmas. I hope you enjoyed it as much as my family does.

 Frank Kelso


A BIG THANK YOU to all of you who bought and reviewed my latest release, “South in the Fall.” It reach #1 Best seller in its category during launch week and was an Amazon “Hot New Release” for the next 3 weeks.

PPS: Amazon Prime is featuring “The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn: in Jan & Feb 2021.



Hurricanes, COVID, and Elections


This Post was published originally on 11/9/2020.

For unknown reasons it failed to appear on my Blog page.

If you read it previously, I apologize for my confusion.

 Hurricanes, COVID, Elections?? – I’m ready for this year to end.

 Hurricane Sally did a U-turn and wandered in circles for a day before striking the Alabama coast. Zeta cut across Mississippi and hit Mobile, AL, hard, and now, Eta started west across Honduras, then turned 180 and went east to Cuba, and is predicted to turn southwest for a day and then increase to hurricane-strength before turning north again to hit - ????

 The people making WEATHER predictions aren’t doing any better than the people making Election predictions.

 I have GOOD NEWS in the midst of this confusion – I’m releasing my latest book.

“South in the Fall” is book #3 in The Apprentice Series, and it’s a #1 New Release on Amazon.

I need your help in keeping it’s #1 position after the book goes on wide-release on Nov 11.

I’m hosting a Book Launch Party on Thuursday, Nov 12, from 7-9 PM on Facebook.

It’s on the LitRing FACEBOOK page and the Launch Party is YELLOWSTONE-themed.

The FACEBOOK link is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LitRingVIP

 If you’re a Yellowstone fan, the prizes will Yellowstone items and Season 1 and 2 DVD prizes.

I could NOT figure how to award Amazon PRIME prizes direct to winners (winners would have to be a Prime Member), so prizes other than Amazon gifts & cards will be sent by Snail-Mail.

Did you get the HINT? Lots of prizes (Gifts cards, books, and Yellowstone gifts) for those who join the party on-line & answer trivia questions on the YELLOWSTONE TV show and its cast.

 “South in the Fall” is only 99c until Dec 1st. Buy one and send a few as early Christmas presents.

(Yes, you can send e-books as a gift with a message to recipient in the “Buy for Others” box on the middle right-side – if you have their email URL.)

 In the GIVEAWAY category, Book #1, “The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn,” is FREE Nov 11-15. Please consider sending a few as gifts to your friends for a Christmas present.

This is a Win-Win for both of us – your friends appreciate your thoughtfulness of a gift, and I win because Amazon counts the traffic, and promotes my books to other buyers at no-cost to me.

Liz and I appreciated your concern and prayers for our safety. God Bless you all.

 I appreciate your continued support, and thanks for riding along.



My neighbor and I hired the same contractor to replace our roof shingles. Our contractor started on his roof today, and they will do my roof when they finish my neighbor’s on Thursday.

While the Sally huffed & puffed during the storm, we survived. We had a little water damage inside, but the house is sound. (a leak got to a stack of print books – anyone want a water-damaged print copy??? The Bad News is it costs more to mail the books than they are worth damaged.)


A late posted PS for news on the book release

The screenshot below is from my Amazon Kindle-page where I brag that the new release achieve Amazon “Best Seller” and on Nov 15 was listed as “Hot New Release.”