austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

The power is there at your command

I was driving home from the extruded office product when I saw far ahead of me a brilliant, lingering explosion of light that reflecting off the clouds and lingering in a curious, blue-green, silent glow. This sort of thing always inspires fantastical thinking from a person with my natural inclinations, so I started out thinking the obvious --- a power transformer blew up --- and slowly adopted alternate explanations --- the start of a thunderstorm; an extraterrestrial starship accidentally destroying the Atlantic Ocean (it was way off course for Grovers Mill); a plane crash at or around the Air Force Base; a chemical factory I couldn't prove existed having a major accident --- and slowly ruled out alternatives.

The major reasons to suppose it wasn't lightning were that it didn't look anything like lightning, that there were no follow-up lightning bolts, and that it'd be an odd time of year to have a lightning bolt. On the other hand, it was extremely cold yesterday, pretty comfortably warm today, and tomorrow is predicted to top off at rather cozy, which does signal that out-of-season thunderstorms are plausible. Add to that that as I drove in the rough direction of the glow there started a little sprinkling of rain and the thunderstorm case seemed unproved. I did pop my audio book out for a moment to listen to the news radio, but they didn't have anything yet. Of course, they're in New York City.

Perhaps coincidentally when I got home there was a pretty major blackout for a couple of towns which are sort of north and east of home, with tens of thousands out of power. It wasn't clear as of the time Eyewitness News broke in about this what the cause was, but I feel pretty good about the ``exploding transformer'' theory.

Trivia: An 1891 exhibit at the Frankfurt Electro-Technical exposition in Germany showed the transmission of 100-horsepower the distance of 109 miles, from Lauffen, at 30,000 Volts, impressing people with the technology of long-distance electricity transportation. Source: Engineering In History, Richard Shelton Kirby, Sidney Withington, Arthur Burr Darling, Frederick Gridley Kilgour.

Currently Reading: A Short History Of British Expansion, Volume 1, James A Williamson.


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