Thaumatubes (< thaumata “wonders, miracles” > thaumaturgy) are a means to incorporate non-conductive materials into technomantic and robomantic circuits. They consist of a miniature bell jar to contain the materia magica and some electronic components.
In the photographed example, the Thaumatube contains a piece of trinitite (glassy rock from the Trinity nuclear bomb test) fastened to a piece of Communion wafer using thin copper wire. This hybrid is suspended from two copper pins that run through the cork base of the tube and into the solderless breadboard beneath. A white LED is soldered between the two pins and glued to the cork; when electricity flows through the pins the LED illumes to signify the Thaumatube’s activation.
A small computer (Adafruit Trinket M0 — I adore these) on the breadboard assists in demonstrating the Thaumatube’s operation. There are essentially two ways to connect the tube to the computer:
- a digital output pin toggles the LED on when the tube is active and off when the tube is inactive
- a digital input pin (via a pullup resistor) detects when the tube is connected thus activating the circuit or enabling some subroutine
I first wrote about tubes such as these in Technomancy 101, and I have since refined the design for use in my forthcoming Talismachines and Robomancy works. Conceptually, Thaumatubes blend container schemata (see Sørensen’s A Cognitive Theory of Magic) with electronic tubes such as vacuum tubes and LEDs as a symbolic or indexical sign of “on, active, activated, operating, powered, &c.”