February 2nd, 2013

krazy koati

I hear them whisper, you won't believe it

I do my honest best to keep conversations going, but there are times it's beyond me. Let me recount one of those times.

For whatever reason, now dimly remembered, I was joking about how something was how liquid metal folks got started. A respondent said he thought they got started in tubs. Why tubs? Well, how else would you keep the liquid from running out? I had the obvious answer: magnetic confinement bottle.

So another person answered that this wouldn't work because by the time you liquefy any metal, it'll have got quite hot, and lost its magnetization. This is ordinarily fair enough: heating something past the Curie point does destroy its ferromagnetism, and there are other kinds of magnetism but nobody cares about them, and I don't know any metals that have a Curie point higher than the melting point.

However, the world is nothing if not more wondrous than you imagine, and I proposed that it could be a magnetic liquid. They're called ferrofluids in the field, and you get them by shaving something magnetic, covering it with an emulsifier, and then blending that into solution. One recipe I found online even described how to do this starting from videotape, which is the sort of thing I'm sorry Mister Wizard never taught us to do because why wouldn't you turn videotape into a magnetic fluid if you could?

The respondent answered this by declaring that such a magnetic fluid was not a liquid but merely a powder in suspension.

As I realized I was trying to talk with a person willing to argue that a suspension was not a liquid, I fell silent. Some conversations must be allowed to die their natural, strangled deaths, fists of pedantry clutched tight round their delicate throats.

Trivia: During the lifetime of King John, nearly a third of England was legally forest. Only the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Kent had no forest. The county of Essex was entirely, legally, forest. Source: 1215: The Year Of Magna Carta, Danny Danziger, John Gillingham.

Currently Reading: The Mathematics of Life, Ian Stewart.