Universal Solvent

Jørgen Andreas Bangor jorgenb at ifi.uio.no
Thu Apr 27 20:28:01 CEST 1995

Universal Solvent

Now I've read the story twice. First I read it one part each week as
they were published, and then I read the hole story. I agree with 
Even -- this story shouldn't have been serialized. There are almost
no changes of scenes, and therefore there doesn't seem to be any 
natural places to break it. Although it does make good cliffhangers,
the excitement isn't exactly the same after having waited a week.

Strange enough, it wasn't until the second time I read it that I 
noted the episode with Little Helper and that robot mouse. Although
I'm not so sure that poor Mickey deserves this, it is quite (very)
funny to find these things. This is something of what makes your 
stories so special.

As several others have done, I have also tried to figure out what 
would happen in later the story. This fight against the nature is 
indeed exciting and interesting. When the problem is an animal or a 
"human" you can, at least in most cases, make an influence on the 
oposite part, and then affect the result. That's not so easy with 
the laws of physics. They usually do as they want to any matter what 
you are trying to do about it. Still there are a few strange things 
in the story, but I don't mind that as long as it makes it a good 

As I said, I tried to figure out what would happen. A, IMHO, nice
solution would be to let the blob of solvent absorb all the mass of
the matter it dissolved. This would of course make it difficult for
Scrooge to handle it, but I think it would make it even more 
dangerous than how it acts in the story. If it absorbed all the mass,
it's gravity would increase, and it would turn itself into a black 
hole. Well, the earth would have been destroyed anyway. That would
give the choice of being thrown out into space when the earth couldn't
keep itself together anymore, or being sucked into the solvent.

About the solvent -- this isn't really a solvent, is it? Since the
"dissolved" material is extruded, the solvent is really a compound 
that squeezes matter together. It's not like removing every third 
atom ;-), but it pushes the electrons against the nucleus of the
atom. There's a lot of space in an atom, so that shouldn't be 
impossible... The problem is that when the electrons get too close
to the nucleus, it will try to push them back. That can happen quite
violently. So, is the solvent leaving a little bit of itself on the
outside of the compressed atoms to keep them together? Wouldn't this 
make all the compressed atoms into tiny nuclear bombs that will go
off when the outer layer of solvent disappears? Let's hope it
doesn't :-)

Another thing that puzzles me is the air in the shaft. When the blob
goes down into the earth and "removes" all the matter it hits, a 
vacuum is created. You've all seen "Airport" haven't you? ;-) When a 
hole is blown in the fuselage of the 707, the air is pushed out into 
the lower pressure on the outside. In this case there is a much lower 
pressure in the shaft, and air is pushed from the surface of the earth
into the shaft. Then when the table hits the hole, the shaft is closed,
and no air can pass. Since the blob is still travelling against the 
center of the earth, the air pressure in the shaft is getting lower
and lower, and the table is pressed harder and harder against the
hole. To be able to get into the shaft, the pressure on the table must
be removed. This is done by building a house over it, and removing the
air from it. The pressure will now work on the house. Now the pressure
will actually be higher in the shaft, because of the air that got into
it, and the table should be very easy to remove. 
     Well, one of the properties of a gas is that it will try to fill
any container it occupies, therefore I find it a bit strange that all
the air that got into the shaft fell down to the bottom of the shaft.
I think it should be occupying almost the entire shaft, although it
would be in a very low concentration. This would spoil the point that
they suddenly was able to breathe close to the center, but the point
later in the story that they could breathe when air was starting to
leak into the shaft wouldn't be affected.
     I was wondering if the air could be pulled down by the 
gravitational forces, but since those forces are getting less and less
significant the closer it gets to the center, and the internal 
termic forces of the air would spread the gas into a biggest possible 
volume, this can not be the case. This means that the entire shaft would 
probably be filled with air, but in such a low concentration that it 
wouldn't be possible to breathe in it. 

The heavy diamonds made a good gag, and led to the conclusion that the
solvent wasn't usable, so I won't comment on them ;-)

Enough nature. Over to the story.

It all starts with Scrooge's usual greed for more money. He goes to 
far, and he doesn't only put himself, his family and his money in danger,
but the entire earth. Nice idea :)

Believe me, I have tried, but there isn't easy to find anything to
criticize in the story. One thing that maybe is a bit unusual in your
stories is that Donald actually gets a good idea when they are trapped
in the shaft. 
I wasn't sure if I dared to hope that this would happen, but to my great
joy, they run into the Hermies and Fermies. Of course this "people" 
wouldn't be too happy about seeing the ducks, and they act accordingly.
I'm glad to see that they still have got the hat :) Ah, but here is
something strange, although in the colouring. As far as I know, Barks
wanted this people to all be coloured in one colour. Something else
would be stupid. This is done correctly in Norway, so it does look a
bit strange when they suddenly appears in a lot of fancy colours now.
Was the idea of running into these people what inspired you to write 
this story, BTW?

The gag with the truck in the tunnel was a good one. Of course the 
ducks panic when a big truck is suddenly coming towards them in high
speed, and they hides behind the umbrella. Then "glorp". The truck,
after being partly dissolved, reminds me of a popular movie.

Ah, there are so much else that also should be mentioned, but I think 
this is starting to get long enough...

The ending is pure Don Rosa. Not neccesary to say anything more about 
that, I think.

Yes, this must be one of your best stories. I like stories that makes
the reader think a little.


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