Re: Screw It

1

Hammer rules all.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:12 PM
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When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like nails.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:13 PM
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A true craftsman neither blames nor praises his or her tools.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:14 PM
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When all you have is an emory board, everything starts to look like Tulane.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:18 PM
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Cry, cry, tighten nuts, cry.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:18 PM
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Poor Chopper. Always chooses hammer.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:21 PM
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Good ol' hammer. Nothing beats that!


Posted by: Ubu Imperator | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:24 PM
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I think it was 3rd Rock From the Sun that said of the allen wrench: "How did they create their entire civilization using only one tool?"


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:24 PM
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The pen is mightier than the sword, and ties with the wrench, but it loses to hammers.

Hammers are defeated by either scissors or rocks.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:26 PM
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10

Hammers are defeated by Jello.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:31 PM
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Um, Cala, you just cited 3rd Rock. Is everything okay?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:31 PM
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12

Jello loses to blowtorch.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:32 PM
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13

I love my ratcheting screwdriver. It rocks my tool-using world.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:35 PM
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11: My dissertation has so thoroughly cooked my brain it's throwing up random examples from bad TV series 15 years ago.

Otherwise, everything's fine. Squerkly blop. Eep.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:36 PM
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Is it this one, Anderson? They're excellent.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:38 PM
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16

Hard to drag race ratchet tools.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:42 PM
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17

There has to be a way to play shnik shnak shnuk in the comments.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:43 PM
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I love my ratcheting screwdriver. It rocks my tool-using world.

Also too awesome for words: combination drill bits that let you drill a pilot hole and countersink in one go.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:43 PM
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19

This flexible screwdriver was one of the best Christmas presents I ever got.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:45 PM
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20

18: Mine is all dull from countersinking in bamboo boards, but it was too pricey to replace lightly. Maybe next project.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:46 PM
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15: Holy shit, $65? I know Snap-On is good, but shit.

19: Where were you 2 weeks ago when I was cinching down a cast-iron sink to metal cabinets, with the frame holes located pretty much directly above the drawer rails?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:49 PM
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The tool in the link in 19 looks like it might be technically illegal in the state of Alabama.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:49 PM
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"Power Tools", as a category, encompasses both the Dremel and the Reciprocating Saw: how can it not therefore be the king of all tool categories?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:50 PM
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21: My tool and I were probably having a picnic in the park. Or playing catch, or rolling sushi, or making crafts. Flexible Screwdriver, you're the best!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:54 PM
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Holy shit, $65? I know Snap-On is good, but shit.

They have a heavy overhead burden to pay the models.*


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:54 PM
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Sifu speaks wisdom in 23. But he does not disprove Becks' point. The Dremel, the Saws-All, and the whole host of power tools are justly acclaimed, but the humble ratchet tools have yet to receive the appreciation which is their rightful due.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:09 PM
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Ratchet tools: the second-most underappreciated tools operated by turning.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:12 PM
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Caroline and I play a variation of rock paper scissors called "Chicken, Gopher, Hobgoblin." Each round, the players take turns making up a new trio of objects and silly gestures to go with them. In each case the first beats the second, the second beats the third, etc.

It is important that at least one member of the trio require you to roll on the ground or jump in the air.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:14 PM
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28: along similar lines, I only relatively recently learned about "Bear, Ninja, Cowboy": thanks, late-in-life undergrad career!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:16 PM
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15: Holy shit, $65? I know Snap-On is good, but shit.

To be fair, I bough mine with a tool allowance. It did 5 years or so heavy (daily) service and now sits around for occasional use, but works beautifully, much better than any other I've used. Tool allowances also meant I have a couple of wrench sets from them, which were a few hundred a pop at the time, but very nice to work with all day.

I've also got stuff like 3/4 drive ratchets. In fact I have about 500lb of hand tools I hardly use anymore, which means other than a couple medium sized toolboxes, a lot of them are thousands of miles away from here (real pain to move them).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:21 PM
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31

And sifu, reciprocating saws have nothing on cut-off saws...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:23 PM
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32

On a more serious note, unless I'm seriously out of date, Dremel makes toys, and for similar $ you can get a rotary that will last.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:30 PM
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33

Reciprocating saw + cast iron-cutting blade = satisfaction. Try it!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:33 PM
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33: erm, have you ever used a cut off saw ?

cast iron. pssht.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:39 PM
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34: Holy mother of Jesus, I want me one of those! I can't imagine what practical need I would ever have for one, but still!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:44 PM
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28, 29: Hooker, Senator, Prosecutor?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:44 PM
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15: No, mine is a cheap-ass $6 special from Home Depot.

However, mine has a thicker handle = more torque = better performance for weaklings like myself.

AND it includes hex bits, for putting together those stupid assembly-required thingies that come with the stupid toy hex wrench.

Yours is very handsome, however.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:45 PM
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38

I can't imagine what practical need I would ever have for one, but still!

You could persuade John Yoo that resignation is in his best interest.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:46 PM
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39

What the Internet is not good for (so far): finding out when and where the first "ratchet" appeared. (Either as a wheel (maybe for use with a water well), or maybe a linear arrangement of notches.) Modern socket wrench appears to date from 1860s, but I assume ratchets in some form are pretty old, earliest use I have found is in the loading mechanism for gastraphetes and ballistas (Greek crossbow weapons) from ~400 BC. (And that strikes me as a fairly advanced use.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:52 PM
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37: they're actually very well shaped, to your hand, so I doubt you get more torque. Maybe, but the handle is less of a problem the the bits, that way. The one I showed you isn't actually the one I have, which is old but nearly the same idea. Came with 40 bits or so, and you can get them for any shape (torx, security heads, whatever). This one ratchets either way or not at all, and has a nice strong magnet. The rachet mechanism won't break without serious abuse.

Being too earnest for a moment: The serious reason these things are worth 10x your home depot one is a) if it breaks, you get a new one free (delivered, no problems) and b) the bits are shaped better.

bit design makes a huge difference to getting messed up heads to behave. I got mine basically for taking old steel screws out of aluminum, which is a pain in the ass.

Like the $40 wrenches, this stuff only really matters when you use it 200 times a day, but then it's totally worthwhile.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:53 PM
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I love my ratchet screwdriver too. Unfogged truly is the blog for me!

My kids make up endless variations of rock paper scissors. All are noisy. My dad, as he does, wrote a computer programme, so if you're alone, you can still play RPS.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:53 PM
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42

I can't imagine what practical need I would ever have for one, but still!

You have no idea how much fun demolition can be.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:54 PM
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43

bit design makes a huge difference to getting messed up heads to behave. I got mine basically for taking old steel screws out of aluminum, which is a pain in the ass.

This is why I got a cheap-o propane torch. Not only does it work, but it involves FIRE.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 3:55 PM
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43: you can use heat sometimes, but not always. Sometimes and impact hammer is the only way to go. Those snap-on bits are grabby little buggers, and they work well after someone has twisted a wrong-sized driver around in the screw head for you, too. And they work well a bit off angle, etc.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 4:03 PM
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45

Oh, the snap-on stuff is nice. I'm saving up (motivation, not money) to get one of their 1/4" drive flex-head ratchets with a wobble extension with the knurled grip partway down. I used my friend's once a while back when he was keeping his tools at my place, and that is the single most useful tool for motorcycle maintenance that could possibly exist.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 4:29 PM
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46

this stuff only really matters when you use it 200 times a day, but then it's totally worthwhile.

I dunno. There's something inherently satisfying about using the perfect tool for the job. (Inspired improvisation is satisfying too.)

Anyway, I love my ratchet wrenches and other hand tools. Powered stuff is fun but wrenching on a car or bike for a day is (or rather, was) greatly relaxing and restorative.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 4:33 PM
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There's something inherently satisfying about using the perfect tool for the job.

Well, yeah, I wouldn't disagree. I just don't think you can really justify some of this stuff unless you use it quite a bit. ymmv, of course.

On the other hand, like many things, using really good hand tools kind of spoils you for the poorly made stuff.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 4:37 PM
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48

My sisters and I used to play what we called "Paper, Rocks, Scissors With Torture." Every time you lost, the winner got to hit your forearm---but with only two fingers. A good smack with the proper whipping action could raise welts.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who played this way.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:02 PM
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48: your sisters played that way, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:05 PM
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they're actually very well shaped, to your hand, so I doubt you get more torque

Maybe I'm using the wrong word -- lemme tellya bout my college physics class sometime -- but the greater the diameter of the handle, the easier it is to turn the screwdriver. Within the limit of diminishing returns, natch.

Is that "torque"?


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:21 PM
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50: wouldn't the solidity of your grip be more important? I mean, it's not like there's a single point on the handle that you're leveraging.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:26 PM
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50: There are two things going on here. From your college physics, you've got the right idea about torque, it's a vector describing rotation around some axis. By increasing the lever arm (diameter of handle in your case) you increase the torque.

...but... you don't actually care about that directly. You care about the transference of force to the faces of the screw, i.e. the torque the screw itself observes. So there are a few different factors there, but how well the bit fits in the head (how much surface contact) matters, this effects how much you have to push `in' to keep contact, how well they work off the perfect axis, etc.

The shape and size of the handle should help you apply the rotation, but typically when you're having trouble it isn't because you can't apply enough force for rotation, unless you are working at a weird angle in which case handle design can make a big difference (and that snapon is nice this way).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:31 PM
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oh, i should mention of course it matters how good a grip you can get too, so shape and material matter. Especially if you're likely to have oil on your hands, etc.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:32 PM
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soup posted the authoritative response I dearly wanted to write, but which the other thread embarrassed me into softening into a question, albeit a response on his part more detailed and accurate than I would have written.

Oh, FINE.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:33 PM
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Yeah, but I'm annoyingly pedantic. And earnest. I wouldn't put up with me if I were you lot.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:37 PM
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of course it matters how good a grip you can get too, so shape and material matter

Are we still talking about home repair here?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:39 PM
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I don't think so Josh.

Especially if you're likely to have oil on your hands, etc.

Oh my, soup! /fans self/


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 6:11 PM
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but which the other thread embarrassed me into softening into a question

I hope it's not my comment you're referring to. That was meant as a genuine compliment. You're just like Hercules, only except if instead of being strong the myth of Hercules was that he knew all about everything.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 6:37 PM
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It's good to have you back, Brock.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 6:57 PM
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60

Please tell me I'm not the only one who played this way.

Yeah, I've done that. Maybe it's a Mormon thing.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:07 PM
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asilon, the importance of a good grip cannot be overstated. You wouldn't want to lose it at crucial moment, would you?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:10 PM
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Holy crap, that cut-off saw is awesome. I'm feverishly thinking of some way I could justify having one.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:24 PM
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60.---I'm not sure whether I feel reassured to know that, of all people...


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:34 PM
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A man who has a gas powered cut-off saw in his hands need justify himself to no one.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:35 PM
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65

If someone says, "What do you need that for?" just power up your saw and shout "Here's my ID!"

It doesn't make sense, but that doesn't matter, because you have a saw.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:39 PM
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64: Except the man with one of these.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:54 PM
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67

Cut off saws are indeed awesome, but sometimes a Saws All is better for reaching into tight places to saw the shit out of something. For example, pipes that need removing under the floor level of a room that is being remodeled.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:58 PM
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67: yep, sawsalls are better for detail cutting, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:00 PM
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I've used my recip saw a lot. You know the adage, "When all you have is a sawzall, everything looks like something you can demolish with a sawzall."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:04 PM
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69: I was totally amazed by how useful mine proved after I got it. So very many things to cut!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:05 PM
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67 is true, but have you ever cut a pickup truck into small pieces with a sawzall?

Not that sawzall aren't, as you note, useful. And fun! But recall, we were asked:

how can it not therefore be the king of all tool categories?

and given dremel (*cough* Foredom) and recip-saw as examples.....

For example, pipes that need removing under the floor level of a room that is being remodeled.

And with an abrasion wheel and a cutoff you can cut a hole for pipes in your cement floor. So, 6 of one, ....

To tell you the truth though, I had a 120000+ BTU torch once that was probably more fun. Or the industrial sand blaster, or the 11 ton press I got to play with a bit... fun.



Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:20 PM
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64: Except the man with one of these.

Maybe, except the cut off saw will cut up the chainsaw pretty fast, so that guy only gets one go.

chainsaws are kinda crazy though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:22 PM
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72: But with the right bar the chainsaw's got a lot more reach. Until the guy with the Cat takes out both contestants....


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:30 PM
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74

yeah, reach is a problem. You can block with the blade though, and once the chain snaps, a chainsaw is just a really lousy club.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:32 PM
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75

I can't believe we're talking about this.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:34 PM
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I can't either. Especially since the Borg would totally fuck a chainsaw up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:38 PM
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Army of Darkness taught us that a chainsaw is a pretty sweet weapon.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:40 PM
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74: Yeah, we'll probably have to wait until they get the Baghdad Colosseum up and running to figure this one out for sure.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:40 PM
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Youtube has it all.

Pit scene from Army of Darkness.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:48 PM
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Army of Darkness taught us that a chainsaw is a pretty sweet weapon.

Yes indeed. And Dead Alive taught us of the usefulness of the lawnmower against zombies. (Um, very graphic duh)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:41 PM
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Also: ben w-lfs-n is a tool.

(really? 80 comments and no takers on that?)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:42 PM
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82

But is he a good tool?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:44 PM
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He excels at toolishness, so my inclination is yes. He's certainly not underrated as a tool as such. And something about Dasein that he can fill in later (being as is his Being always already toolish in that manner).


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:48 PM
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39: I think it it's coz it makes the noise ratchit, ratchit rattccchhit.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:55 PM
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39, 84: I finally found one reference that claims that the ancient Greeks invented it (and its initial mention seems to be in regard to crossbow weapons), they seem to also have come up with the screw. It really is an ingenious bit of simple engineering. Definitely worth a Eureka! or two.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:07 PM
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I am the best tool.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:35 PM
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re: 85

The ancient greeks were bad-ass at that sort of stuff.

See, for example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

which is one of the coolest bits of ancient tech, ever.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:53 AM
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I keep wanting to start a petition to get the hammer added to the list of simple tools (lever, inclined plane, etc). It's just as effective of a means of force multiplication as a lever.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 1:21 AM
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When the only tool you have is a Phillips scrwedriver, the whole world looks like a Phillips screw of slightly the wrong size.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 1:26 AM
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When the only tool you have is a Phillips scrwedriver, the whole world looks like a Phillips screw of slightly the wrong size.

If your people hadn't invented the Whitworth screw, this problem would be much reduced.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 1:33 AM
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asilon, the importance of a good grip cannot be overstated. You wouldn't want to lose it at crucial moment, would you?

I, um, no ... erm ... back in a few minutes ....


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 2:46 AM
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I keep wanting to start a petition to get the hammer added to the list of simple tools (lever, inclined plane, etc). It's just as effective of a means of force multiplication as a lever.

I'm withholding judgement on this one until I hear the argument in favor in more detail. It seems to me that the hammer derives its usefulness from a combination of force multiplication through leverage (i.e. the rotation of the arm around the socket) and force preservation through a hard striking surface that doesn't "give" as much as a bare hand. So there is an argument that the hammer is a variant of the lever, just as the screw is a variant of the inclined plane.

OTOH, the hammer in the sense of "heavy object used for striking something" very likely preceeds all the other simple tools, so might be considered the Ur-tool.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 5:49 AM
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You have no idea how much fun demolition can be.

Sadly true. I have a modest amount of experience with demolition, but I never got to wield one of those. The most fun part of it was swinging a sledgehammer into solid structures. Most of it was the drudgery of pulling nails with a Wonder-Bar and dragging away the wreckage. The guy who had all the fun was the operator of the backhoe who got to collapse the roof with the hydraulic arm.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 5:53 AM
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So there is an argument that the hammer is a variant of the lever

ever tried to lever in a nail?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:05 AM
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Neither power tools nor ratchetting tools are as awesome as pyrotechnic tools. Thermite is great (instant welding powder), thermic lances are fantastic, and PE4 is the King of Tools - you can use it for everything from digging holes to panel beating (really; if you want to make a very large, very accurate dome of metal for the top of a fuel tank, and you don't have a press big enough, you build a jig, lay the flat metal across the top, immerse in water and detonate a lot of charges in the water; the shockwaves blast the metal into shape around the jig).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:06 AM
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95: Fascinating. How is the jig constructed? Is it cast in a sand mold?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:17 AM
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ever tried to lever in a nail?

Ever tried to hammer in a nail without leverage? (N.B. a pneumatic drill gun does not count as a hammer for the purposes of this rhetorical question.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:19 AM
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"drill gun" s/b "nail gun", obvs.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:20 AM
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You actually do lever nails out with a claw hammer. It wouldn't seem that hard to design a lever device to lever them in, though it would be pretty useless compared to the hammers we already have. Some heavy-duty staplers use a lever action with a long handle, rather than just a a hammering effect.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:23 AM
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I hammer my nails in by pushing heavy weights up an inclined plane and then dropping them on the nail.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:45 AM
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More seriously, the hammer-plus-wrist is a lever, but what's driving in the nails is the impulse, not the leverage. You can hammer nails in with a rock.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:46 AM
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but what's driving in the nails is the impulse, not the leverage.

But the impulse comes from the force of the muscles multiplied by the leverage of the arm (and of the handle, if you're using a hammer instead of a rock). In fact, the arm is a compound lever, with fulcrums in the shoulder socket and the elbow joint.

Then again, the body is not part of the tool per se, so I'm not sure which side I come down on. Like I said, I'm waiting to hear a more thorough exposition of the argument in favor of the hammer as a simple tool.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 6:54 AM
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But the hammerness of the hammer is in the handle, which is a lever. I have tried to hammer nails with a flat, handleless hunk of steel of the appropriate weight, and the handle really does help a lot. And not just because it keeps your fingers away from the area of contact.

In general I have nothing to add in the area of "really cool tools I've used" discussion, but I'll do well once we shift to the "ineffective substitutes I've used when the right tool was not to be found" discussion.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:04 AM
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I'll do well once we shift to the "ineffective substitutes I've used when the right tool was not to be found" discussion.

Emerson, the less said about the unfortunate episode with the axle grease, the better.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:06 AM
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I don't think that the majority of the force amplification in a hammer does come from the leverage; it comes from the sudden stop. A hammer works by storing kinetic energy in the swing and then releasing it in the impact; that's not like the physics of a lever.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:09 AM
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I have tried to hammer nails with a flat, handleless hunk of steel of the appropriate weight, and the handle really does help a lot

yeah, but try to push nails into a table by using leverage and you will quickly see which bit is the real business end of a hammer. I mean, really, if you had to pick one bit of a hammer to do some hammering with, would it be the head or the handle?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:12 AM
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This is far and away the nerdiest conversation I've ever seen.

That said, a hammer is a level attached to a rock, and thus more complex than the simple tools listed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:27 AM
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I don't think that the majority of the force amplification in a hammer does come from the leverage; it comes from the sudden stop. A hammer works by storing kinetic energy in the swing and then releasing it in the impact; that's not like the physics of a lever.

It is and it isn't. The leverage (especially of the arm, but also of the handle) is essential to generating the kinetic energy.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, though. I think the rigorous argument in favor of the hammer as simple* tool would proceed approximately as you have begun: that the heavy weight in motion is a kind of capacitor for kinetic energy.

*This argument only works for the hammer as an instrument for breaking things. As an instrument for driving nails, it has to be considered a compound tool, since the nail itself is a form of inclined plane.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:29 AM
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This is far and away the nerdiest conversation I've ever seen.

Considering the source, I don't believe that statement for an instant.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:30 AM
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I normally just drive nails in with my thumb, but most people can't do that.

I can see that the hammer isn't really a simple tool. But I still say no lever, no hammer.

I can imagine a leverless caveman nutcracking hammer, I suppose.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:38 AM
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I normally just drive nails in with my thumb

As my late and dearly missed uncle used to say, "[Knecht], you swing that hammer like lightning. You never hit the same place twice."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:41 AM
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When I was working as construction labor I could consistently drive a nail all the way in with two strokes. A friend had a friend who could do it with one stroke (without setting the nail at all).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:45 AM
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The hammer's definitely an application of a lever. Don't listen to dsquared.

I drive nails with my forehead.

Sorry, that's into my forehead.

Is that a different conversation than the one we're having? I can't remember.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:46 AM
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There is consensus as to what is on the list of "simple machines" even before you consider the hammer. The Wikipedia article briefly touches on this. I was surprised to see the screw listed there as I had always thought of it as basically an inclined plane to which you apply torque (similarly, hammer does not make it onto my list).

That said, everyone should go home and have a beer tonight (even if you are not having a mid-life crisis) in honor of the unknown geniuses who first conceived of the ratchet (and pawl), screw and hammer.

Oh, and count me in on piling onto dsquared.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:53 AM
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Using a wedge, I will insert "no" between "is" and "consensus" in Stormcrow's comment, as he meant to do. I, tool-maker, am helpful.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:56 AM
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114: There is no consensus

Is that a nail in my forehead or ... where am I?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 7:56 AM
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I believe that Jack Handey nominated something for the list of simple machines, but I can't google it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:00 AM
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I think if you use the hammer properly (swinging motion), it works as a lever with a weight on the end.

It also helps to have a well-balanced, shock absorbing hammer.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:00 AM
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A friend had a friend who could do it with one stroke (without setting the nail at all).

This would seem to require some extraordinary timing with the nail-holding fingers.

Has anyone here ever used that goofy hammer with the built-in nail-setter? Like a magnetized bit with a channel that holds the nail? Seemed like a pretty stupid gimmick, but you never know.

Hammer as lever: when doing trim work, I occasionally remember to stop being so careful, slide my hand down to the end of the handle, and let loose. Much more effective.

Then I tap around the divot I've made in the trim, to make it less apparent.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:08 AM
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115: as he meant to do

Among the multitudes that Sifu contains is the uncorrupted version of all my (maybe everyone's) intentions.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:16 AM
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119: Not really. I could consistently drive a nail about 2/3-3/4 of the way in on the first blow. It takes good timing, but not freakishly good timing. Getting the impact exactly right was what I couldn't do.

I was a very ordinary hammerer, and then I had a job hammering one nail after another for three days. (Putting plastic on a greenhouse). It's not like being a concert pianist, you get the motion down pretty quickly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:19 AM
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The leverage (especially of the arm, but also of the handle) is essential to generating the kinetic energy

Not essential at all; one could hammer a nail in by dropping the hammer head vertically down on the nail - this is actually how a piledriver works and a piledriver is clearly a kind of hammer. A ball-and-chain (for demolition) is also a kind of hammer, and clearly isn't any kind of lever.

I don't see how one could gerrymander a definition of a machine that the hammer doesn't fit (it pretty clearly does give you a mechanical advantage in terms of force out versus force in), and I think that the example of the piledriver pretty clearly demonstrates that the class of hammers isn't a subset of the class of levers.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:28 AM
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OK, what we call a hammer is a complex machine, lever plus piledriver.

As for the piledriver being a simple machine, I think it's too brutish. The whole idea of 'simple machines" was that they were ingenious ways of making a hard job easy, whereas a piledriver is pretty much your classic example of caveman brute force: take something really, really heavy, pull it up, and drop it straight down.

And if you use a pulley, it's a complex machine again.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:32 AM
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The whole idea of 'simple machines" was that they were ingenious ways of making a hard job easy

Bashing someone's fucking brains in used to be a real chore.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:39 AM
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Maybe the piledriver should be defined as the zero level of machines, against which all other machines are measured. Sort of like the original Adam or formless primal matter of machineness. The "Me Ogg! Me smash!" of machines.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:41 AM
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A piledriver is hydraulic, a kind of force multiplier specifically excluded from the list of simple machines for reasons that I can't quite figure.

The problem, I think, is that dsquared isn't thinking about the concept of "simple machine" in terms of the actual physics description; a rock is not a force multiplier. It has a certain mass, and a certain translation, and it transfers that to a corresponding acceleration of a smaller mass. Attach a lever to that rock, and you are able to accelerate the same mass by the same amount with a different amount of force. The lever, therefore, is the simple machine. The rock is, well, a rock.

The chain in the ball and chain is acting as a lever, I think, being taut. You could probably come up with some interesting example of like a whip or something that would take more work to fit into the framework, but really, who cares?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:44 AM
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Has anyone here ever used that goofy hammer with the built-in nail-setter? Like a magnetized bit with a channel that holds the nail? Seemed like a pretty stupid gimmick, but you never know.

I've seen them, but think they are a gimmick. They would only slow down the typical carpenter.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:46 AM
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I don't see how one could gerrymander a definition of a machine that the hammer doesn't fit (it pretty clearly does give you a mechanical advantage in terms of force out versus force in)

I'm still thinking this one through, but defining a simple machine as something that confers mechanical advantage, it seems that a hammer (even D-Squared's weight dropped from a distance) would be something like the opposite of a simple machine.

Work is Force times Distance, and you can define a machine as something that accomplishes Work by enabling the application of a smaller Force over larger Distance. That's consistent with the definition of mechanical advantage.

But isn't a hammer something that accomplishes Work by applying a larger Force over the same (small) Distance?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 8:49 AM
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a rock is not a force multiplier

Yes it is. Proof: if it takes a force of 200 newtons to break a coconut and the maximum force my weedy arms can exert is 150 newtons, then I am going to starve to death in a coconut grove. If on the other hand I can find a rock weighing 100 newtons I am going to be eating coconut for dinner, because if I lift that rock up six feet and drop it down, then the force exerted by that rock at impact (assuming that this is a normal coconut and the stopping distance is short; if it is a squashy green coconut with the husk still on I am fucked) is going to be much greater than 200 newtons.

I'm moving the object I'm applying force to by a smaller amount than my swing, but that's also true of a crowbar (think of the two ways of breaking a padlock - crowbarring it and hammering it - are we really going to say that the crowbar is a machine doing work while the hammer isn't?). I'm definitely exerting a bigger force on the coconut than I'm capable of generating without a hammer.

I think the reason that the hammer (and its inventor, MC Hammer) got screwed by the simple machines people is that there isn't a simple formula for the mechanical advantage you gain; it depends on the rigidity of the thing you're hammering.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:02 AM
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dsquared is right - the hammer is not a lever. The whole idea of the lever is that the work you do is equal to the work you get out, where work is defined as a force applied through some distance. A lever is handy because it lets you apply a relatively small force through a large distance in order to move a heavy object (i.e. apply a large force) through a small distance. Or the reverse, if that's what you need. But the product of force times distance is the same on both ends of the lever (in other words, there is no free lunch.)

this is NOT what you are doing with a hammer. When you swing a hammer, you are taking advantage of the properties of rotational motion - the heavy head of the hammer moves with the same angular velocity (degrees of arc per second) as the part in your hand, but with a much faster linear velocity, since it travels through more inches in the same amount of time. So you maximize the speed at which the head travels, hence it's kinetic energy, by holding the hammer as far from the head as possible (but you also give up some control, which is another issue altogether.)

How's that for pedantic? And I haven't even had my second cup of coffee yet.


Posted by: Nicole | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:02 AM
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128: A lever is just a lever. Sometimes you push on the long end, someties the short. Depends on what you have a lot of compared to what you need.
For instance hydraulic lifts in a garage are the "opposite" of a jack. You're looking for speed, not mechanical advantage per se.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:10 AM
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I sincerely hope that nobody reading this thread is a high school physics teacher.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:12 AM
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High school physics teachers are simple machines.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:13 AM
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132: I'm a former high school physics teacher, (and current, part-time college physics teacher). You all have detentions.


Posted by: Nicole | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:14 AM
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I'm just going to start calling a hammer a pully.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:15 AM
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as long as you don't start calling it a pulley, Sifu, I won't say anything.


Posted by: Nicole | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:16 AM
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130: Which too me describes a class 3 lever. Just like golf clubs, tennis rackets, baseball bats etc.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:18 AM
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pushme, pulleyou.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:20 AM
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This thread is making me think the nails in the forehead weren't such a good... thought... about thing... doing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:22 AM
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Also I'm with JP Stormcrow. I think Nicole's stuff about rotational motion is lot of smoke and mirrors designed to distract us from the fact that levers also use those same properties of rotational motion.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:23 AM
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Agree with 140, but D-Squared's point does not rely on the heavy object being connected to a lever. It could, as he says, be dropped from a great height. So the question is whether the general class of tools consisting of "heavy object accelerated to ample velocity" qualifies as a simple machine. I think I still maintain that the answer is no, based on the argument in 128. But I'm not confident I'm right.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:27 AM
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I think the rotational motion thing is a red herring; the essential property of a hammer is that it stores energy and then releases it. Some hammers that you can buy in shops might be attached to levers but that's another question - hammering is distinct from levering.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:27 AM
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My understanding of 130 is basically that hammers create free energy, and can be used to construct a perpetual motion machine.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:27 AM
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142: but that's an essential property of anything with mass.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:29 AM
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144: you might as well say that being an inclined plane is an essential property of anything that isn't parallel to the ground.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:30 AM
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145: indeed I might. You just don't know how crazy I'll get in this thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:31 AM
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the essential property of a hammer is that it stores energy and then releases it

I'm with you up to there. But I think a consistent (and non-pedantic) definition of simple machine could exclude a whole class of objects that have this property (stretched spring, bucketful of water suspended in a tree, piece of rubber tubing pulled taut, compressed air, loaded crossbow, etc.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:32 AM
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137: class 3 levers are defined by levers where the force is applied between the load and the fulcrum. Not sure where you see the fulcrum in a hammer - where it's held? If that's the case, where is the force being applied?

140: if "smoke and mirrors" = "physics", then I agree with you. Yes, levers rotate, and you can use levers to rotate things at the same angular velocity (but different linear velocity) as the rotation you put into it. But calling a hammer a lever is like calling a whip a lever - focusing on surface features rather than actual function.


Posted by: Nicole | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:33 AM
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148: according to Wikipedia there are some chancers who want to claim that the wheel and axle is "just" a kind of lever. Good luck to them I say, they'll need it.

147: I think all of those things are machines; I don't see how one rules them out, other than by the same sort of stipulation that rules out hydraulic machines. My guess is that they all get left off the list because they fail the "simple" part of the test, where "simple" is taken to mean "having a simple expression for the calculation of their mechanical advantage" rather than its ordinary meaning.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:37 AM
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148: the force is being applied by the hand to the portions of the shaft that are beyond the fulcrum, which is going to someplace along the hand.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:38 AM
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149: it seems like you're arguing that the "simple machine" category is kind of useless, in which case I agree with you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:39 AM
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ACK! A hammer does NOT store "free" energy. The potential energy (when the hammer is poised) is stored in the gravitational field. That gets transferred to the kinetic energy in the hammer, which gets transferred to kinetic energy in the moving nail (plus stuff like thermal energy in heating the wood, the nail and the hammer, molecular kinetic energy in the form of sound etc.)

and the rotationl motion bit is not a red herring - it's why you grip the hammer at the end and not in the middle if you want to maximize how hard you drive in the nail with one blow (ignoring the control issue, of course.)


Posted by: Nicole | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:40 AM
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You can see why they're called simple machines!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:40 AM
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class 3 levers are defined by levers where the force is applied between the load and the fulcrum. Not sure where you see the fulcrum in a hammer - where it's held? If that's the case, where is the force being applied?

The fulcrum is the heel of the hand just underneath the pinky finger. The force is applied at the other edge of the hand. Ergo, class 3 lever.

Also, there is compound leverage involved, as there are additional fulcra at the elbow, wrist, and possibly shoulder joints.

A whip to me seems to have a similar function as a hammer, in that they both seek to apply a large force over a small distance. The difference is that the hammer creates the large force with a large mass and moderate acceleration, while the whip creates the force with a moderate mass and a large acceleration (taking advantage of the properties of waves to accelerate the mass at the tip). Neither of them, AFAICT, are creating mechanical advantage at the point of contact.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:42 AM
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154: but creating mechanical advantage is the point of a lever - aren't we arguing whether or not a hammer is a lever?


Posted by: Nicole | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:46 AM
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Neither of them, AFAICT, are creating mechanical advantage at the point of contact

The hammer, at least, definitely is. As I note above, you can crack a nut with a hammer that you can't crack by squeezing. So at the point of action, you're exerting a large force over a smal distance, after having exerted a small force over a larger distance while you were swinging the hammer.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:46 AM
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156: you can't crack a nut with a hammer that you couldn't crack by hitting it hard enough with your fist, were your fist hard enough. So if the difference is hardness, is a closed fist a simple machine? Is a forehead?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:48 AM
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152: hmm, perpetual motion machine, you say?

thanks, teach!


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:49 AM
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I really shouldn't get sucked into this. Go pedantry.

142 is right; 130 is essentially correct about how a lever works, but a little bit sloppy about the hammer (and the sentence about work and levers). Rotation is not needed, but it can be convenient because the velocity achievable and our physiology.

A hammer works because you impart momentum to it and it exerts a force (proportional to its mass and velocity) on whatever it hits. It's a balance of how much mass you have and how much velocity you can reasonably impart and how much control you have (ever try to drive shingle nails with a 10lb sledge?).

What is perhaps confusing people is that if you rotate it around an axis (your wrist or shoulder) you are taking advantage of the lever arm of the hammer and/or your arm, but that's a system larger than just the hammer itself.

Unless you are pulling nails with it, in which case it's being used as a lever.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:50 AM
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soup very politically avoids the key question of whether it can be categorized as one of the existing simple machines.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:53 AM
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the fulcrum, which is going to someplace along the hand.

Specifically, the wrist. Compare holding a hammer stiffly and whacking it at the nail (caveman-style) with holding it a little looser and snapping the wrist at impact.

The center of rotation is the elbow or shoulder, so the wrist acts as a multiplier, or something. The single-blow nailing Emerson describes certainly relies on wrist action (plus, probably, a 24 oz. head and 2-3" longer handle, if it's a roofing/framing hammer).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:53 AM
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I'll say again -- and I don't exempt myself from this -- this discussion is so idiotic. Where are we, the Mythbusters forums?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:54 AM
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I can't believe I got sucked into it either, Sifu.

152: No, it is a bit of a red herring, because you don't use all hammers the same way. But we are getting (more than) a bit pedantic about the difference between the tool itself and the action used.

Typically, i.e. carpentry nails, you're going to use the rotation to get a higher velocity, hence higher kinetic energy as you note. Slogging a big sledge hammer after a few hours you're probably being lazy and just dropping the damn thing (basically). Still works though. It's also quite possible to use a small hammer linearly (e.g. in constrained spaces) which will quickly teach you how much easier it is when you can get a good swing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:55 AM
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156: true, you can crack a nut with a hammer, but you can also crack a nut by dropping a rock on it - those are the same actions. If you were using a hammer like a lever, you'd have to either exert a very large force (larger than the force needed to drive the nail) through a small distance (smaller than the distance the nail travels), or a small force through a large distance. And by distance, I mean the distance each end of the lever travels around the fulcrum. The distance that you swing the hammer is not the distance around the fulcrum (unless you hammer the way 154 describes, by only pivoting the hammer around your thumb - which is a very inefficient way tohammer) - it's the height, from whence comes the potential energy.


Posted by: Nicole | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:57 AM
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Specifically, the wrist.

I'm not sure about that, and this goes to Soup's point that the system is larger than the hammer itself: your wrist and your elbow are working as fulcrums when you swing a hammer. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that your arm contains levers, and that the hammer is a force multiplier.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 9:57 AM
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As I note above, you can crack a nut with a hammer that you can't crack by squeezing. So at the point of action, you're exerting a large force over a small distance.

I'm almost prepared to concede that d-squared (really, water moccasin) is right, based on a definition of simple machine as something that confers mechanical advantage. But for a hammer to qualify, mechanical advantage has to be undersood as either a force multiplier or a distance concentrator, which is not entirely consistent with the definition of mechanical advantage that I learned in school. OTOH, the wedge seems to have been accepted into the order of simple machines (I was taught that a wedge is a compound machine consisting of two inclined planes), and a wedge definitely works as a distance concentrator.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:05 AM
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it's the height, from whence comes the potential energy

Not really true in practice, except for the lazy sledgehammerer case that soup mentions. The kinetic energy most definitely comes from the swing, which is imparted through compounded leverage across several fulcra. I buy the notion of a "typical" hammer as a system consisting of several levers and a heavy object.

The real question is whether d-squared's "ur-hammer" (heavy object, possibly dropped from a height) represents a simple machine. The concentration of force across a short distance comes from the sudden stop (i.e. the entire force of the rapidly moving heavy object acts across the few micrometers that the nutshell "gives").


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:12 AM
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165: Depends on the hammering motion. TBH, I was reflecting on the motion I was using for trim nailing the other day, which used the elbow as axis, wrist as fulcrum. But driving a 16d nail, you'd certainly rotate about the shoulder, with elbow and wrist fulcra.

As for hammer as force multiplier, I'm not sure how this applies, but: to crack a nut in absence of a hammer, you'd hold the rock in the palm of your hand and pound stiffly, not at the fingertips with a wrist snap. Some of that is control (and not wanting to smash finger), but most of it is ability to control rebound. Even with a loose wrist, a hammer won't bounce back except from extraordinarily hard substrates.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:12 AM
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The kinetic energy most definitely comes from the swing

A rigid, massless hammer isn't going to do you any good.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:16 AM
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whether d-squared's "ur-hammer" (heavy object, possibly dropped from a height) represents a simple machine.

Coconuts dropping from trees don't seem like much of a machine to me.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:24 AM
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Only because you deny God's agency, Jack Mormon.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:35 AM
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God's creation is not a machine-world, ogged. Natura naturans, biaatch.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:37 AM
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Is this reminding anybody else of the Ogged Test of w-lfs-n's Theorem of Penile Elasticity discussion?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:38 AM
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I'm going to nail you, JM. Natura naturans just is God, and "machine" here doesn't describe some artificial, constructed thing, but a way in which force is applied.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:44 AM
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you can't crack a nut with a hammer that you couldn't crack by hitting it hard enough with your fist, were your fist hard enough. So if the difference is hardness, is a closed fist a simple machine? Is a forehead?

I think we're pretty much agreed that an arm is a lever so yes.

If anyone's still trying to save the canonical list, you can also add that a perfectly rigid lever (and all the other machines on that list) acts instantaneously while hammering necessarily takes time.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:44 AM
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reminding anybody else of the Ogged Test of w-lfs-n's Theorem of Penile Elasticity

A lot of things remind you of that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:45 AM
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Is this reminding anybody else of the Ogged Test of w-lfs-n's Theorem of Penile Elasticity discussion?

I hadn't thought about it before, but now that you mention it, I realize that this discussion and ogged's test share a fundamental property: after the third or fourth iteration, they both become indistinguishable from wanking.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:46 AM
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a perfectly rigid lever

Buy one today, and get a pair of frictionless spheres at half price!

Notice to our valued clients: the ideal gases advertised in last weeks circular are no longer available.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:50 AM
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I'm going to nail you, JM.

Oh baby.

a way in which force is applied.

What kind of a way?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:51 AM
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[pedantic physics lecture redacted]

see, I can resist after all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:54 AM
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I still think I'm right. Probably a pile driver and sledge hammer are simple machines in some fancy-schmancy "rational", "scientific" way, but the story of the simple machines is supposed to be part of the story of mankind's movement away from brutishness, and the pile driver doesn't contribute to that story.

Though we can ask: was there an even more brutish, pre-pile-driver / sledge hammer stage of human development? A stage in comparison to which the pile driver can be regarded as an elegant solution?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:58 AM
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Oh baby.

I get this a lot.

What kind of a way?

You said that a coconut falling from a tree didn't seem like a machine, but a machine is just something that does work, or transmits energy, so I assumed that you denied the machineness of the falling coconut because you were blind to the work--God's work--being done.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:59 AM
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God's creation is not a machine-world

Is so. Lasers and rockets manifest physical phenomena not seen anywhere in creation untouched by the hand of man. Maybe He-3 superfluidity also. Certainly d-wave superconductivity.

And in a different way, Maize even before Bt and the chihuahua.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 10:59 AM
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Though we can ask: was there an even more brutish, pre-pile-driver / sledge hammer stage of human development?

you've clearly never been to Wales.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:03 AM
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a machine is just something that does work, or transmits energy

Isn't that to broaden the definition of "machine" to uselessness? At that point, "machine," "god," "Jackmormon," and "energy" effectively mean the same thing.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:04 AM
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you've clearly never been to Wales.

And now he never will.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:05 AM
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When the only tool you have is a rusting industrial estate and a lot of prescription antidepressants, the entire world looks like Wrexham.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:06 AM
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Isn't that to broaden the definition of "machine" to uselessness?

Not if you're defining work more strictly as the energy transferred by a force.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:07 AM
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Mostly I'm just fucking around, JM. Surely you, at least, have something better to do than to keep arguing about this with me.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:08 AM
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At that point, "machine," "god," "Jackmormon," and "energy" effectively mean the same thing.

Teilhard de Chardin after 4 drinks.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:09 AM
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"machine," "god," "Jackmormon," and "energy" effectively mean the same thing.

when the only tool you have are these shrooms, everything looks like God and energy and machines


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:10 AM
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189.---Hmmpph. Yes, plenty, and I don't want to do any of it.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:13 AM
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---Hmmpph. Yes, plenty, and I don't want to do any of it.

The key to unfogged success, right there.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:14 AM
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Hey kids! You know what's cool? Ratchets!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:14 AM
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erm, unfogged's success (whatever that may be)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:14 AM
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195: unfogged's success (whatever that may be)

Digitally dancing on the tattered remains of John Yoo's dead law school career.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:15 AM
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I don't want to do any of it.

In that case, you don't know jack about physics. Probably because you're a girl.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:16 AM
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I barely squeaked out a B+ in high school physics. My father, whose PhD is in theoretical chemistry (basically particle physics), was unimpressed.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:19 AM
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In fact, the old "Beyond the Fringe" comedy troupe did have a sketch about the "bad" method of getting out coal: running at the coalface and butting it with your head. ("Hackin and hewin" was the modern, efficient method). "Welsh" was not specified, possibly for PC reasons.

Yes, I could have been a judge but I never had the Latin, never had the Latin for the judging, I just never had sufficient of it to get through the rigorous judging exams. They're very rigorous, the judging exams, they're noted for their rigour. People come staggering out saying, "My God, what a rigorous exam" - and so I became a miner instead. A coal miner. I managed to get through the mining exams - they're not very rigorous, they only ask one question, they say, "Who are you", and I got 75 per cent on that.

Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:20 AM
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(basically particle atomic physics)

Don't let him see that post, either.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:22 AM
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200 was uncalled for and snarky. sorry.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:22 AM
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Never apologize, never explain. JM is a big girl, in the good, non-fat sense of the word "big".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:24 AM
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Yeah, fuckedifIknow, really. He told me once that his post-doc work had to do with bouncing light around crystals, if that elucidates anything.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:25 AM
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If an atom isn't a particle, soup, why's it so goddamn useful for mining coal?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:27 AM
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203: so, akin to basketball.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:27 AM
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but the story of the simple machines is supposed to be part of the story of mankind's movement away from brutishness, and the pile driver doesn't contribute to that story.

But! A large part of why otters are cute is that they have invented the hammer despite their non-human nature.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:29 AM
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203: Yeah, I've messed about with some problems in it to a trivial degree. Even quantum chem is mostly about interactions on the scale of atoms and even molecules, Particle physics is about what's going on inside those atoms. From a physics point of view, it's a different world (but there is a blurry boundary there somewhere).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:29 AM
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204: you get a particle soup in vacuum, not in coal mines.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:31 AM
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bouncing light around crystals, if that elucidates anything

A brilliant, if possibly unconcious, play on words.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:32 AM
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I think we are missing the most important point here, which is that I am right.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:32 AM
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In your youth as a miner did you go at coalfaces with your head? It must be a dying art.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:38 AM
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I think we are missing the most important point here, which is that I am right.

In my personal heuristic for deciding which side is more probably right on unfogged threads, the alignment of d-squared versus Sifu is the equivalent of a circuit split in the appellate courts. I need LizardBreath, the ultimate arbiter of what is good and reasonable*, to weigh in before I can decide.

*Except as regards gender issues, in which case LB is invariably right when she disagrees with B., and wrong otherwise.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:43 AM
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I am willing to concede that "simple machines" as a category with any application besides introductory physics lectures is a deeply, deeply flawed concept. I am in no way willing to concede that hammers don't use leverage.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 11:50 AM
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211: Are you trying to insinuate that I'm working class Emerson? Come over here and I will lever your ass with my foot.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:04 PM
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So the legend of young Davies' escape from the minds is entirely my invention? I must have mistaken you for D.H. Lawrence or some guy like that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:06 PM
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"Mines". Damn.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:07 PM
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Yes, I could have been a judge but I never had the Latin

That was Peer Cook, I believe. He also invented the Plib, and the wheel, although he never got credit for the latter.

The ratchet is nothing without the pawl, but does anyone ever remember the pawl? Is there a national holiday to celebrate the pawl? I think I'm going to found an order of Pawlene monks.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:11 PM
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Someone stole the T from Peter. It will probably turn up in some future comment, pretending it belongs there. There's an entire society of people who obsess about Ts. They're called T-nuts.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:13 PM
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Someone stole the T from Peter.

You have to rob Peter to pay Pawl sometimes, Michael.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:15 PM
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210: Right, for some values of "right".

I will admit that I narrow-mindedly focused only on the standard hammer with handle. (And it is used as a lever (part of a system of levers...), this I will believe to my last dying breath, Maxwell.) The place of "hammering" itself and various implements to aid in that in the hierarchy of tools is of interest to only the terminally useless interesting.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:16 PM
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217: but does anyone ever remember the pawl?

See 114.2


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:17 PM
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See 114.2

The pawl, always a parenthetical aside, never the full and equal partner; that's the ratchetarchy at work.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:24 PM
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that's the ratchetarchy at work

Yeah. If you think the three-fifths compromise was disgraceful, just look at the gradations inside a standard socket wrench set: three eighths, nine-sixteenths. What remains of dignity?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:42 PM
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222: that's the ratchetarchy at work.

Simply ap-pawl-ing.


Posted by: Lovey Howell | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 12:50 PM
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Not wishing to prolong the discussion, but got to thinking about hammering vs. splitting; you start hammering with the pointy end of the rock and voila! you are using a "simple machine"! (And then there is the subtle difference (common to stabbing and cutting as well) between the action of using the wedge to increase the pressure by reducing the surface area over which the force is applied (which is basically enhanced hammering) versus the splitting motion aided by the actual faces of the wedge.) Not to mention hammering versus grinding - mortar and pestle (or maybe just the mortar) as another simple machine candidate. All of it just more grist to the mill for lack of utility of the simple machine concept.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-10-08 2:25 AM
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96: to be honest, I have no idea. Sounds about right though.

I see from this description that I wrote "jig" when I should have written "die". Sorry.

http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/explosive-forming/explosive-forming.html

I'd like to think that in the future this technique will be so advanced that we will just put a big lump of steel in a water tank, set off a sequence of carefully judged and timed explosions, and pull out a Toyota.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-08 4:36 AM
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