Thinking - Electronics - Education

I'd like to take this self created opportunity, to comment on my experience of the South Australian education system.

It was really, really boring.

For example, the following two phenomena would have got me very interested in science, but were conspicuously absent.

Did you know that if you stick a powerful magnet on a battery, then reach a copper wire so that it balances on a point at the top, and just slightly touches the magnet on the bottom, the device creates a stack of rotational motion?

I didn't, and I've been to school.

It looks like this...

And if you add that failure to educate me to this other example, you see why I'm a little disappointed...

In this second video, the rare earth magnet creates a magnetic field in the copper pipe, and that reacts with the magnet using ordinary magic.

 Both videos are real, but totally lacking in my childhood experience. 

Not happy.

120 Things in 20 years - When thinking about electronics, and education, I want my money back. 


  1. When I was a, wait, actually, I was grown, but just barely. Which, come to think of it, is still pretty much the case...but anyway, I lived in Texas back then, and there was a lot of oil well drilling going on in those days. I don't know what they did with them, but they dropped a lot of these little magnets around the drilling sites, and my brothers and I would find them and take them home.

    Because magnets are cool.

    These were cylindrical, like the one in the second video, but smaller, maybe 1/2" in diameter, and just a bit more in length. They had little copper caps that fit over their ends. The caps didn't stick to the magnets, being copper, but when they were on the ends, something kept them there.

    That was the first strange thing.

    The second strange thing was that with the caps on, the magnets were much, much stronger than with them off.

    I've never known why. But I'm guessing it has something to do with that second video.

    Also, your recent comments gadget is broken.

  2. I like it.

    A mystery without a solution.

    RE: comments gadget, thanks.

    Do you know about cow magnets?

    Perhaps they were cow magnets.

    Cow magnets are a feeaky thing, and until it's been proven to not be a hoax, it's almost pointless trying to convince people thay are a real thing.

  3. There. Now it's not broken.

    It simply isn't there any more.


    I'll fix it when I find a way.

  4. Yeah, I know about cow magnets. Cows don't have the quiet, easy lives they are depicted as having, just strolling around munching grass and chewing their cuds all day. Cows have to put up with a lot of indignities. And I don't mean just being milked or turned into steaks.

    Before my dad convinced me I wanted to be an engineer (which I didn't, but it took me another 20 years to figure that out, by which time I had long since become one), I spent my first semester at Texas A&M University as an animal science major. I learned more stuff about cows in that one semester than I even knew there was to know. Like the fact that a single cow produces 20 gallons of saliva daily. Oddly, that fact has outlasted most of the calculus concepts I learned during the next few years. The thought of someone having had to somehow figure it out to begin with fills me with questions I probably don't really want to know the answers to.

    They have pastures full of fistulated cows at Texas A&M. Have you heard of those? They're cows with screw-on lids on their stomachs, so you can reach right in and take stuff out. Because, apparently, saliva isn't the only bovine bodily fluid that animal scientists find fascinating.

    Maybe my not becoming one of those wasn't really such a bad thing.

    Also: Good job on the applet fix. :)


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