If you don't want to read the story, the images are posted here!http://www.liftport.com/gallery/album/31-cntsilver-alloy-wedding-rings/
The “Rings” Story
So about two years ago, two strangers sent me a message.
That’s not uncommon; I’m a pretty ‘public’ figure if you’re in the space/geek/advanced technology/science fiction community. What was unusual was that they tracked me down, personally. That’s a little harder. Most people - if they’ve heard of me at all - know me by my ‘persona’ as “The Space Elevator Guy”. In fact, I sometimes write that on name badges at conferences… People hardly ever know my actual name, nor my role in the project.
So this guy, Josh, sends me a message (I’ve edited parts of each of these three letters, for privacy considerations and, believe it or not, brevity...) :
In your last newsletter, you asked that anyone who was interested in buying carbon nanotubes email you. It's not a scientific application by any stretch of the imagination (unless you count the fact that my fiancé is a science major), but my fiancé and I were talking about getting carbon nanostring wedding bands. (Diamonds may be forever... -despite the fact they evaporate?-... but gold wears away fast.) So, what might be the cost of enough carbon nanostrings to make wedding bands out of?”
Here’s my response:
When I read your note below, I laughed. Not out of humor, but out of joy. I love that idea! Really, it’s amazing! Unfortunately, current state of the art is probably not as strong as you want… But I have a couple ideas.
Let me flip your question around on you – forget how much it might cost. I don’t think it’s realistic for you to purchase raw Carbon NanoTubes at ‘fair market value’. Quite frankly, it’s unlikely that you can afford it.
Let me know what a realistic budget is for you and your fiancé. If it’s possible at all, I’ll cap my charge to that number (even though it will likely exceed that. Consider the difference as my wedding present.)
If it is within my power, and it might not be – and if my idea works, and it might not – I will do whatever I can to get you your rings.
What’s your number? We are going to have to talk about this. I’m looking forward to chatting with you. If your fiancé knows about this, then we should probably include her in these conversations. I suspect that a ring of CNT will be unconventional, and we are going to have to talk about design and techniques available. It is probably NOT what you are thinking right now. So be prepared to be flexible and creative.
Please don’t talk to anyone about this. 1) I don’t know if it can be done. 2) If it can be done, I want you to have it first. 3) If you guys go through with it, expect your wedding to get mentioned on CNN… I’m not joking.
So we should talk.
Thanks for your interest in our project. Thanks for your brilliant and beautiful idea. And if it works, thanks for including my vision to change the world into your very personal lives. I don’t take that for granted.
Take care. mjl
Finally, here’s Josh’s reply.
First off, thank you very much for the offer. I was amazed actually that you made it. (What you're doing, both you and LiftPort, never cease to amaze me!)
And yes, my fiancé does know about this, I was talking to her about it when I initially emailed you at first, and she loves the idea. (As an FYI, we're both huge fans of the Space Elevator work, and plan to do whatever it takes be among the waves of pioneers going up once the elevators get running.)
I look forward to talking to you more,
Joshua (& Elizabeth looking over my shoulder and grinning.)”
What are the rings, exactly? Ok, so what are these things, anyway? I took Josh’s original request, but it was totally unworkable. Simply put, if I could make a ring like Josh wanted, I’d be able to build the complete Space Elevator… that tech is still a ways away.
Instead, I took silver, and melted Carbon Nanotubes into it. The temp needed for this is delicate. Some tubes burn up, while others mix into the silver ‘soup’. A metallurgist with 25 years in the field has said that the new alloy has some “interesting” properties. There is a strange ‘crystallization’ to the metal once it cools. We don’t really know why; or what this means. It needs study. There is other ‘stuff’ about this alloy which lead in some exciting directions, but as yet, we have not explored those.
In essence we’ve created a unique silver+carbon nanotube alloy. We would like to brand this material “Mithril” after J.R.R. Tolkien’s super-material in the Lord of the Rings… so far, the foundation’s branding people have not returned our calls. (According to their website, it’s an 8 week process.)
These are the notes that Josh left on the Kickstarter ‘comments’ page a couple days ago.
My wife and I were the ones who the prototype rings were made for (the ones at the $750 reward level). I suggest to *anyone* getting married sometime after today (or who at least hopes to) to hop on that one.
• Reason #1 - Use this line when you propose, "Many men promise their brides-to-be the stars. It's a very rare man that actually delivers." At which point you can explain the ring, and the potential bride is thusly wowed.
• Reason #2 - It REALLY shows that you're planning on a better world for your children - aka, you're awesome husband material.
• Reason #3 - Awesome conversation piece.
• Reason #4 - Someone shows off their gold ring, and you can say, "How quaint."
• Reason #5 - The working name for the metal is awesome. I won't say more without Michael's permission. But let's just say, the name is very... enchanting. When the people who see you hear what metal your ring is made of, they'll do a double-take and then demand more information.
• Reason #6 - There are very interesting properties to these rings that are fun to show off. Again, not going to go into detail without Michael's go ahead.
• Reason #7 - It's one thing to give a wedding ring to your loved one. It's a completely different thing to give a wedding ring to your loved one that's a piece of history.
• Reason #8 - Gold wears away easily, these rings may be able to be passed onto your great great grandkids.
What do you get?
So what do you get? The minimum ring set (yes, that’s been a question, you get two rings) is $2000. The price can climb from there, depending on how detailed the “fine” elements of the ring might be. Filigree is out; we can’t do it. The CNT creates pockets of impurities, and the alloy simply cracks. In thin lines, the CNT can’t mix with the silver. We learned this the hard way, through trial-and-error. So that means it’s a basic band. But it shines up beautifully. Silver typically tarnished quickly. Josh tells me that almost a year later, they’ve never had to shine their rings. We don’t know why…
So there have been questions about the price. I can’t set that, specifically, until we talk. If you want a lot of stones, that complicates things, and raises the price. If you want large stones, that simplifies things, and raises the price.
But here’s an important detail – if you have a maximum budget – like Josh+Liz had, we will work within it. I promise.
What does the deposit cover?
The deposit is a place-holder. Kickstarter needed a specific dollar amount for the category, but this ring didn’t fit that model. So the deposit is simply a placeholder. If, after we talk, we don’t wind up making your rings you will be refunded your deposit. However, the second stage requires hiring the metallurgist. Since she’s not on my team’s staff, we have to cover her expenses. So you MIGHT get charged $250 even if we don’t create the rings for you. You will get plenty of warning before this occurs.
How does this happen?
First, we’ll talk. You tell me about what you are looking for. We can do this all over the ‘net. I never met Josh+Liz, we didn’t need to. (Actually, I didn’t meet them until the day of their wedding. Forget cute little girls in frilly dresses – I was invited to be the ring bearer! It was a lot of fun!) Anyway, we didn’t need to meet in person, during the design and construction phase, and simplifies the process a lot. Show me pictures of styles you like. We’ll tell you which ones we can do. Then, if things look good, that’s when we bring in the metallurgist to start the true-blue design process, sizing, selecting stones and settings and that sort of thing. We’ll talk a lot during this step, take careful notes, and then we go to work to create something one-of-a-kind; made of the strongest material in the world…
There’s a secret…
I can’t reveal it yet. Maybe two or three… When I do, you’ll like it.
P.s. We're $410 away from $70,000, in case anyone was watching.