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“ It looks dangerous because it is... even though this one was a small one, only about 100,000 volts. ”

Dr. Charles Crawford about the 'electron gun'

Terminator 3 borrows electron gun

Fri 10 Jan 2003 | 00h00 GMT+1
Info: TF News search

He's back... And this time, he's packing a weapon that looks an awful lot like a contraption made in Wilton. Part of the inspiration for the labs and equipment in the new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, "Terminator 3 - Rise of the Machines," came from Kimball Physics.

Dr. Charles "Chuck" Crawford, founder of Kimball Physics, wasn't sure how or where the set designers came across an electron gun manufactured by the company for NASA. But they had, and they wanted to put that ominous-looking gun in Schwarzenegger's hands.

"They (the movie people) contacted us quite a while ago," Crawford said recently. "They wanted to lease a couple of our electron guns. We were concerned that if we sent them one, it would get damaged - they are quite expensive. If I'd thought, what we should have done was send them one with no insides."

Instead he sent them pictures and specs of the gun so the movie people could build a model. Crawford also sent photographs of the Kimball Physics labs.

One of the electron guns was sitting on a table in the conference room during an interview. It was a shiny, silvery, very futuristic-looking high-tech weapon about 4 feet long, looking like something straight out of the "Terminator" films.

"It looks dangerous because it is," Crawford said, explaining that this one was "a small one, only about 100,000 volts."

An electron gun is used to produce a stream of electrons with a well-defined kinetic energy. Smaller, less powerful ones are commonly found in all vacuum tube applications, such as TV picture tubes. Bigger guns, such as the one Kimball Physics makes for NASA, use more energy and look scary enough to be a perfect fit for a muscle-bound cyborg.

Earlier this fall Crawford received a letter and several photographs from Bryan Hurley in Los Angeles, speaking for "Terminator 3." The letter notes, "Although our lab does not resemble yours, the photos you provided have inflected the tools and the stations."

That is, they borrowed the look for the movie set, including the gun.

The movie is scheduled to be released in July.

Crawford founded Kimball Physics in 1970 as a consulting firm after a stint as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He later purchased a failing company in Massachusetts and moved into manufacturing.

"We started making the electron gun for NASA for testing space craft materials," he said. "NASA is very pleased with them and we have found some other customers. We have a new contract with NASA to construct a new type for a new method of building large things in space."

Kimball Physics is currently in the initial phases of planning for a new research park and laboratories, to be in the new zone recently approved by town voters.

"We've talked to several architects," Crawford said, and to people at the state, "but the economy is down. We hope to get started in a year or two."

But turnabout is fair play. In a reply to Hurley's letter, Crawford says, "In looking at your set photos, some of what you built is usefully innovative (you clearly have talented designers). The photos were shown to members of the Wilton Planning Board, and they were delighted. So your make-believe movie sets are now influencing designs for new real laboratories."

Having liked the first "Terminator" better than the more-popular sequel, Crawford said, "I'll be interested to see the movie."

Till then, hasta la vista, baby

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