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BOFH and the chemistry lesson

Managerium is known for its denseness

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Episode 19 "OK," The PFY says looking over the inside of The Boss's machine. "I'll take a quick look at it, but at this stage I'm fairly certain that it'll just need a new seal and a smoke recharge and be back up and running in no time."

"Sorry, did you say smoke recharge?"

"Yeah?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, obviously the smoke seal's gone which is why you saw it. If we replace the seal and recharge the smoke it'll probably be as good as new."

"What are you talking about?!"

"Your machine."

"I know you're talking about my machine but what's all this crap about smoke recharges!?" The Boss snaps irately.

"Okay, your machine gave out a bit of smoke and died - yes?"

"Yes."

"Which is why I suspect the smoke seal on one of the chips has gone, letting out the smoke and causing the machine to fail."

"Which smoke seal?"

"I don't know yet, I'll have to test the chips."

"Test them for what?!"

"To see if the smoke's got out."

"What the hell are you talking about, there's no smoke in chips!"

"What?" The PFY asks in jus the right tone to imply doubts as to The Boss' sanity.

"Computer chips - they don't have smoke in them!"

"Ah" I weigh in. "I think you might be a little mistaken - most microelectronic devices have smoke in them."

"Rubbish!"

"Course they do!"

"Ridiculous!"

"Well how do you think electronic devices work then?"

"They're collections of transistors.."

"And how do transistors work?"

"Silicon junctions?" The Boss responds, slightly unsettling me with his in-depth knowledge.

"Some are silicon, some are germanium. But they're not pure silicon, because it's not actually conductive."

"nyyeeess" The Boss says slowly, indicating that we're (thankfully) at the outer regions of his knowledge.

"So an impurity is introduced to the silicon to make it a partial conductor."

"Mmmm," The Boss says, verging on the mental depletion zone we call Dummy mode. All I need now is a little gate voltage to his mental mosfet and...

"And the addition of an impurity is called doping and the dope we're talking about in this case is managerium, a very very dopey compound"

*** DUMMY MODE ON! ***

"Managerium?" The Boss repeats doubtfully. "I've never heard of it."

"I'm not surprised," I respond, pullstarting the bullshit generator "Whilst it's extremely commonplace extraction of pure managerium is extremely rare. It is one of the last elements in the periodic table and with an atomic weight of 347, it's extremely dense."

"Uhh... huh..." The Boss mumbles, indicating that his mental "bag full" light is on, only I can't stop because I'm on a roll.

"So the silicon is doped with Managerium in a process known as superdoping to make the basic junctions required for microelectronics. Superdoping involves the fusion of managerium particles onto a silicon wafer in microscopic amounts."

"YES YES, I SEE, BUT WHAT THE HELL'S THIS GOT TO DO WITH SMOKE!?!!"

"AS I WAS ABOUT TO SAY," I continue. "The microscopic amounts are achieved by superheating managerium so that it changes from a solid directly into a gas - a process known as sublimation."

"Managerium being well known as a subliminal material," The PFY adds, stealing my in-joke.

"Yes."

"And so when the smoke seal in a chip breaks the Managerium is free to break it's covalent bond, resulting in a gas which looks - because of Managerium's denseness - like smoke."

"So when a computer has smoke coming out of it, it's really Managerium escaping?!" The Boss asks

"Exactly?"

"Is the gas harmful?!" The Boss gasps.

"Uhhh...." I say, haltingly.

"What is it?" he gasps again. "I may have inhaled some - I certainly smelt something!!!"

"Well the good news is that if you're affected by it you'd never know as it affects the mental system - although it IS a cumulative poison."

"Well what are the symptoms if it's bad?"

"I... I'm not sure. I know you get headaches."

"Headaches?!" The Boss blurts, grabbing his forehead.

"Increasing amounts of Amnesia is another symptom. It starts out with small things and just gets worse and worse." The PFY adds.

"How much worse?!!!!"

"Well, advanced cases forget everyday things like the names of people they just met, license plates of cars they used to own, their dreams, the last thing they read before they put a book down at night - that sort of thing - but I mean that's only the really bad cases."

"Bloody Hell," The Boss gasps, rushing from the room gripping his head tightly.

The ambulance was overdoing it a little, but he did insist after I "remembered" that inability to concentrate was an indication of a near fatal dose of the material that had an atomic weight of 347 which was actually almost same as a combination and Uranium and Silver both noted for their relative paucity in conjunction with quartz deposits in the African subcon.....

"So do you think we should replace the faulty power supply?" The PFY asks, pointing past the fan to the huge scorch mark where a capacitor used to be

"Nah, chuck it in the bin. And if he asks - we never had this conversation and he never brought his machine in..."

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2005, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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