"Mental Metalurgy" (continued from previous page)

Posted by James Briggs on February 04, 2002

In Reply to: "Mental Metalurgy" (continued from previous page) posted by TheUnlurker on February 04, 2002

: lot's of wild speculations about brass monkeys by Ms Camel et al (who's Al?)

: James Briggs said:
: "As the one who originally posted the the 'powder and brass monkey' explanation, and also a bit of a scientist, I have to point out that a coefficient of linear change gets magnified quite a bit when applied to a ring..."

: Hmm! You assert this without evidence or argument, scientific or otherwise. If I were forced to speculate as to how a heated ring expands under heating I'd probably say:

: If the temperature is changed to cause a 1m bar to expand by 1 unit then the circumference of a ring of diametre 1m would expand by pi units (i.e. 3.14 and a bit units).

: Maybe that's what you meant by "magnified".

: _*BUT*_ the diametre of this ring only increases by 1 unit, so what's your point?

: Cordially,
: TheUnlurker

: PS: Which bit of a scientist did you post? I can't find it anywhere.

A degree in Medicine! Physical objects have 3 dimensions. When cold, a ring contracts in diameter, width of the band and its height. Thus it shrinks significantly, enough to squeeze tightly backed iron balls (with a much less co-efficient of expansion/shrinkage than brass) out from the ring. In any case, this discussion is about the origin of the phrase, and not about the physical properties of brass - or iron, come to that! Do you have a better suggestion for the origin? I'd welcome it.