"Mental Metalurgy" (continued from previous page)

Posted by TheUnlurker on February 04, 2002

In Reply to: "Mental Metalurgy" (continued from previous page) posted by James Briggs 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.

Oh I don't know, er, let me think, let me think...
maybe it's a vulgarization of "cold enough to freeze the whiskers/tail off a brass monkey". But that just begs the question (sound of a million postings being typed on the subject of begging questions).

I am charmed that you think that this amounts to a game of best suggestions, but forgive me one more time visiting the world of the real; if, as you say, "when cold, a ring contracts in diameter (and) the width of the band contracts" wouldn't these effects tend to cancel each other out?