Sunday 19 April 2015

Disruptive Influence

I can remember the thrill it was as a little boy to shuffle across the wall to wall broadloom carpet in my slippers and when I got to the table a spark would jump from my finger. I had no idea that first time it happened what was going on. The subsequent three or four thousand times I was well aware what would happen and I suppose that I learned something of static electricity. Of course, my older brother did his learning by shocking me when I least expected it.
Image result for carpet static electricity 
Whenever we had balloons in the house we would rub them on our heads and then stick them to pretty much any surface they would stick to. By the end of the day the walls were covered, we were covered and there were bits and pieces of balloon all over the house. “But Mom…it’s science!”
 Image result for balloon static electricity
I can remember a scout leader teaching us how to save ourselves if we were ever lost in the woods. Well, we could save ourselves if we managed to have a sewing needle, a piece of cork, a plate to hold water (very still), and a magnet. By stroking the needle against the magnet it becomes magnetized and then rest the needle on the cork and it will point out magnetic north. Of course this assumes that you actually know where you came from initially. Personally, I think it would be far easier to carry a compass than all of that other stuff that would make a poor compass at best. That might be why I was kicked out of scouts for being a disruptive influence. Many years later I was almost kicked out as a scout leader for the same reason strangely enough.
 Image result for pin and cork compass
In school we learned how to make an electro-magnet by wrapping a wire around a nail and then hooking the ends of the wire to battery terminals. When the teacher told us we were going to make an electro-magnet I had visions of those huge things that wrecking yards have that pick up cars and toss them around like they didn’t weigh a thing. My nail and battery could barely lift an iron filing and really struggled to pick up a coin. Perhaps if I had a bigger battery…
Probably one of the coolest weird things you could do with electricity is lighting a bulb with a potato. You needed two pieces of wire, a potato of course, a very small bulb and a couple of nails to shove into the potato. When I first heard this, I thought to myself “BULLSHIT!!!” It turns out that it actually works amazingly enough. It isn’t powerful enough to do anything with, but the bulb lights up and is powered with a potato. Crazy.
 Image result for potato electricity
I thought the potato thing was pretty incredible and would be impossible to top. As usual, I was wrong. Today I performed an experiment that I saw on Facebook. Most things you see on facebook won’t work as advertised and I expect to be disappointed. This entry today said that with just a paperclip, a small piece of paper and two coins I could recharge a cell phone. Hmmmmm… I collected everything together and did what the video told me to do and my dead cell phone started to charge! I know, crazy!

I didn’t wait to see if it would actually charge the phone enough to make a call or send a text, but if I am ever in a situation where I am no where near a power outlet, need to make a call, and in my pocket I just happen to have a paperclip, paper and two coins, I will give it a go. It would be just my luck that there would be no cell service.

Mind you, just like when I was in scouts all of those years ago, it would be much easier to keep the phone charged when I am going into the wilderness. I guess I am still a disruptive influence.

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