24 May 1997
Source: Mail List cypherpunks@cyberpass.net

These messages refer to an item of USG complaint against Jim Bell.

To: cypherpunks@EINSTEIN.ssz.com (Cypherpunks Distributed Remailer)
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 21:07:52 -0500 (CDT)
From: Jim Choate <ravage@EINSTEIN.ssz.com>
Subject: carbon fibers (fwd)

Forwarded message:

> Subject: carbon fibers
> Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 21:11:00 -0500 (CDT)
> From: ichudov@algebra.com (Igor Chudov @ home)

> Reading all the discussions about Jim Bell, I became interested in
> the carbon fibers that Jim allegedly planned to use to disrupt the
> work of compiters.

> I would appreciate if anyone explained me how these fibers work, how
> small and thin they are, and so on. I am also curious when and how this
> use of these fibers was invented.

Carbon is commonly used in electronics because when compressed it generates a small voltage, a la your phone receiver.

It can be both a insulator or a conductor depending on how one fills the outer valence band. Because its 'natural' state is -4 (it has 8 positions and only 4 are filled with electrons) it makes a fair conductor. Yet, it is not listed in most Activity Series for metals. I believe the idea is that since it is a reasonable conductor that when it falls across parallel lands on the pcb of a cpu it will short the lines. This would not only affect the reliability of the data because of current leakage but might in some cases cause an actual failure because of incorrect voltage or current.

Some relevant physical data to consider: 1

Data from the Periodic Table:

Carbon (C)
Valences +2, +4, -4
2.62 g/cm3 @ STP
M.P. 4100
B.P. 4470
Hexagonal crystal structure
Electronegativity 2.55 (metal)

(If anyone can find the conductivity I would appreciate it, it wasn't in [1] or the CRC that I have)

1 The Addison-Wesley Science Handbook: For scientists, writers, and science buffs
G.J. Coleman, D. Dewar
ISBN 0-201-76652-3

Jim Choate

To: cypherpunks@algebra.com
From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 22:18:20 -0700
Subject: Re: carbon fibers (fwd)

At 10:50 PM -0500 5/23/97, William H. Geiger III wrote:

>In reading the complaint Jim was using a copper coated carbon fiber mesh
>that was then to be processed (probably cut up and ground) into a fine
>powder so it could be delivered airborn. I think that the critical
>ingredient was the copper coating and not the carbon itself though it
>should have an additive affect for the reasons mentioned above.


Why make things so complicated? As I have been reading the articles and complaints, it seeemed fairly clear that what was being talked about were conductive fibers (I read the complaint as saying "nickel-coated," not "copper-coated," but this is a minor point). Think: fibers like fiberglass batting, except conductive rather than insulating.

(This is some of what the EE used on the Iraqi defense stations to disable them.)

The whole idea of them being airborne suggests small fibers. Not powder, as I visualize the plan.

Having said this, a lame idea. Maybe a single computer system would go offline for some period...such outages happen all time anyway. Between backups in other offices, in other buildings, etc., no lasting effect.

Further, I'm willing to bet the ventilation ducts do not enter directly into "the computers." Between ordinary PCs and workstations, and even VAXes, nearly all of them draw their cooling air from ordinary room air.

(My lab up near Portland, coincidentally, had one of the first VAX 11/780s, surely larger (though not faster) than any 9-1-1 system now likely to be installed...and it drew its cooling air from the surrounding room.)

The point being that airborne fibers would have a tortuous path to follow from a rooftop duct down past the various filters (often HEPA) to get to the inside computer rooms, and then past the foam filters typcally near the box fans on PCs (or probably somewhat better filters on Suns and workstations and Unisi.

In other words, pie in the sky for actually knocking out any service for a significant amount of time and with any significant chance of success.

(I wouldn't be surprised if Jim didn't do some experiments on real systems...that's what I'd do. Got to characterize the process before even considering actual use. And if done properly, one might even be paid as a consultant for doing such studies. Doesn't make one a criminal for buying the raw materials, nor even for joking about it...especially given the implausiblity of it actually working. Just idle speculation.)

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws. 
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
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