The Old Ticker by Lothar Speer
The second installment in the Mystic Rampage series is on its way to being published. Before it becomes available, I wanted to share some of the additional content. This is 1 of 6 illustrations by Lothar Speer. It shows up late in the book, but it’s my favorite image. The character depicted is known as the Old Ticker, who showed up at the end of Made to Be Broken. The reason I like this picture so much is because the character is a scientist and while discussing what to include in the scenery I was able to use some of my lab experiences. I sent Lothar images and links to information on different kinds of spectrometers and nuclear magnetic resonance machines. I even sent him some information on particle accelerators, although I don’t have any direct experience with those. The scene became cluttered quickly, so not all the equipment I suggested could be included. Ultimately, Lothar decided to put in a High-Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC), which is the device on the left side of the page. Basically, there are two phases: the mobile liquid phase is a fluid that contains the component that is being measured, and the stationary phase is a solid granular material which the analyte will adhere to in certain conditions. It’s been about six years, but I had some experience with a machine like this while assisting a grad student. He was trying to develop a novel method for detecting an organic compound that was a common water contaminant. He made a solution of the compound in a certain pH, flushed it through the solid phase to make it bind to the medium, and then changed to a solution of a different pH which caused the analyte to dissociate and reach the detector. To verify that it worked, he needed to run the test as many times as possible, which meant people needed to stay by the HPLC and restart the procedure as soon as it was finished, over and over and over again. That’s exactly the kind of job that tends to be put on undergrads (good times).
The equations on the chalkboard are from a class I took last year and is basically just a photocopy of a notebook page. It pertains to electron configuration and breaks the overall angular momentum (J) into components of orbital momentum and spin (L and S). I did not send Lothar information on the author of the textbook the material came from, so I might as well do it here: the course text was Quantum Chemistry (sixth edition), by Ira N. Levine. It's a very dense book but the examples are extremely helpful. Quantum chemistry isn’t exactly my area of expertise and I was hesitant about including the equations since I’m not entirely sure they’re accurate. In the end, I decided that even if they’re not correct, having them on the chalkboard still conveys that the character is a man of science, so I decided to ask for it to be put into the illustration. Overall, the Old Ticker was a fun character to write and I hope people enjoy how I portray him throughout the second book.
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