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Miscellaneous Queries

Learn about Brass Monkeys - the Memphis Three, Disk, Disc or Disque???

Q: How do you spell disque in English?, is it disc or disk? -- Ken

A: In the US it is disk and in the UK and everywhere else it is disc. This is complicated a bit by some vinyl enthisiasts who insist that their flat black recordings be called discs. The diskette that was once very popular was abbreviated to disk. To further complicate things the CD when it was developed together by Phillips and Sony was described as The Compact Disc. So now you know -- David martin Edmunds Oct 2014 Ref:0578

Q: Foolscap Paper: Why is foolscap paper so called? -- David Murchison Reply

A: The most popular paper of this size had a watermark of a fools (joker's) head and a cap. http://thetipsbank.com/paper-sizes.html -- Dave Sharpe Tarzana LA 7th August 2007

Q: Right Angles in nature. Why are there no right angles in nature? -- Peter Broadbent Reply  (Ref:1113)

A: Interesting idea, however if you are talking about living things I have to agree that I know of no examples, however nature in the form of crystals - what about the common salt NaCl crystal, it is a cube and Alum crystals are rhombic and have a square profile when viewed from the apex. I would go further than my previous assertion and suggest that the right angle found in a salt crystal is better than any achievable by human technology.

There are some numbers that occur regularly in nature - Fibonnacci's constant is one such-- Axel Klystron
12th sep 2005

Q: - What does the abbreviation P.P. stand for - This is used when someone is signing a letter on behalf of someone else? -- Darren Corbie Reply

Answer - p.p refers to per procurationem (by agency), a Latin phrase meaning that you are signing the letter on somebody else's behalf Alison Letherbridge Sutton Surrey England 12th August 2007

Q: Third Pyramid at Giza. What is the name of the third, the smallest Pyramid at Giza, I was told that they are Cheops, Chefren and something beginning with the letter N -- Cedartree-- Reply 

Q: Will Linux be killed off by the SCP litigation. Everyone should go over to the operating system to keep it alive. I believe that there are systems that fit on a floppy and some that can be run direct from a CD. Anyone out there can direct me to free sources. Thanks  -- splyffie blimp Reply 

Q: Interactual software to run DVDs on your computer. I am mad that I have been scammed by the big Movie companies. I need to load special software which forces me to watch adverts downloaded from the internet. Is it legal in a civilized country? -- Dave Esmond Tarzana Reply

Q: Brass Monkeys: In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannon fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? -- Reply

The best storage method devised was a square based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon.

There was only one problem -- how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with 16 round indentations. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys."

Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.

Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!" (And all this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you?)

You must send this fabulous bit of historical knowledge to an unsuspecting friend..... If you don't, your floppy is going to fall off your hard drive and kill your mouse -- Ray. Comment 

A: Could be from a HebrewSemitic for phrase shiver-frozen "freeze the balls off a brass monkey" See the discussion on:
-- the reverend Comment

Q: RNA. What is RNA and how does it differ from DNA? -- Robin Lee Reply 

Q: The SETI Project. Surely if there were to be a superior species it's planet would not be polluted with microwaves and therefore would not be visible to the radio telescopes used by the searchers? -- gReply 

Q: Israeli Settlers? What is a safe and acceptable strategy for the Jewish settlers? What will happen to them when the Palestinians get their own state? Do some of them wish to become Palestinians? Who will they pay taxes to? I am neither an Israeli or a Palestinian, but I do hope these guys can get it together. -- Rafael DeSouza Reply 13 April 2003 

Q: Deaf Baby. I read about the Lesbian couple who have succeeded in bringing in to this world a profoundly deaf baby which they insist is preferable to having a hearing one. I was shocked and angry when I heard this and feel that they must be breaking a law of the USA as well as God's own Law. -- Anne Gouldstone Reply 

A: Well it could be the start of a trend, blind babies stupid babies, hairless babies, limbless babies you name it and perhaps the human species could eventually end up as brainless little hairless spheres with holes at the top and bottom being fed and rolled around by robots, even needing assistance in reproduction -- Axel Klystron Reply 

Q: World Trade Centre. What do we do after we have cleared away the rubble. Do we build another twin towers or a Garden of Remembrance? -- Yates O'Brien. Reply

Q: Special forces in Afghanistan. "Hearts and Minds" Will the raw hurt from the bombing of the World Trade Centre make us be tempted to act without first getting at least some of them on our side and how should we go about it. Can the Coalition replace Osama and the Taliban in the hearts of the Afghani people?  For special operations to succeed it is always better to have the local people on one's side. The British SAS gave a very high priority to this aspect when involved in Oman and in conditions not too different from the terrain in Afghanistan - and they were dealing with somewhat similar people. -- Sand Spider Reply 12th Dec 2001

Q: Suds in Fountains. One of our juvenile friends put suds in our neighbours fountain. Is there a way to neutralize the suds? -- "m&m parkscurry" Reply (Ref:0191)

A: Epsom salts can be used to dissolve soap suds -- Ed

Q: Innocent? -
"The Memphis three are innocent", The inevitable verdict of anyone who has seen the documentary films "Paradise Lost" are we seeing a twenty-first century equivalent of the "Salem Witch trials". Anyone out there convinced otherwise???????? -- Richard Budkiewicz Chicago (Ref:0868p) Reply

Q: Spindle. What does the term spindle mean in the phrase we come across continually on forms; "Do not spindle, fold or mutilate?" -- "Boots" Reply (Ref:0454p)

A: Spindle  Have you ever seen a flat base, sitting on a desk, that appears to have a long nail coming up out of it,  or something sharp and pointy that was stuck in it from the bottom, that is a spindle. Sheets of paper  used to be stacked, or held in one place by this method, probably in days of old, way before post-its.  Each paper ended up having a hole in it from being impaled on the spin --Hutch 9     6/15/2003

A: What's a spindle?   Hi, A spindle is an old-fashioned piece of office equipment-essentially a small stand with a stiff wire spike on top. It functioned as a last-in-first-out file or to-do list. As memos or tasks arrived on your desk, you might put them on the spindle for latter action. Some word processors let you place deleted text on a "spike" for later pasting back into the document. This function mimics that of the spindle. Machines that process paper (various readers, bank equipment, etc) don't tolerate the holes left by spindle use, so you seldom see spindles anymore. -- Bob Schetgen, KU7G

Answer #2: What's a spindle? Good afternoon - the term "do not fold, spindle or mulilate" refers to the really old system of office equipment where secretaries and often bosses had a little stand with a nail like device coming straight up out of a base. You pushed people's messages onto the "spindle" for them to read when they came back to the office. I haven't seen one in 20 years.... In other words, they to not want a hole punched through the form. Hope this answers your question. m  -- 05 May 2003

Answer #3: In days gone by, a common item on office desks was a "spindle" - a sharp spike that stood upright on a stand, upon which various bits of paper (receipts, checks, reminders to pick up a quart of ice cream on the way home) could be impaled so they would not blow away or get lost before they could be properly handled. With the advent of computer-produced "punch card" checks, the act of "spindling" (impaling that check on that sharp spike) rendered computer checks useless - "spindling" created an extra hole that the computer "card readers" could not read, and so rendered the check void. That's why government checks, which still have the little square holes in them for card readers to read, still tell you not to "spindle." One extra hole, and your check is toast. -- L. Fullerton, University of Washington, Seattle Washington 98195    

Q: Homeless People?: What did Mayor Giuliani do with all the homeless people?  Megan Docherty - Reply (Ref:0703p)

Q: Scotland: My holiday in Scotland left me very pleased with the country and its people, however I am a bit confused! Is Scotland a country within the United Kingdom (or Britain as some people call it)? Is England the same as Britain? If Scotland, Wales England and Northern Ireland are countries, then what is Britain? is it too a country? Are these places regions? Am I confused? -- Reply (Ref:0777p)

A: The Scots are a Nation, some of us live in a country called Scotland which shares a border, a parliament and a monarchy with England, Northern Ireland and Wales. we have our own legal system and second parliament and we are a member of a grouping of nations known as the UK. We do need an agreed definition of all the above as even I am a bit confused -- Dave Kay Comment

A: Reply to Dave Kay - We have our own parliament now -- David Sutherland

Question Yttrium: Yttrium in Sweden has lots of rare earth elements that could only have been the result of major atomic activity. Has anyone come up with an explanation for the strange concentration of these materials?? Also the thin layer of iridium that was laid down at the time of the end of the dinosaur's era has not been linked conclusively to a giant meteor strike in Central America. Richard Gotrik  London Ontario Canada (Ref:0832p)

Question, Separating Siamese Twins: Should we allow Siamese twins to be separated? An English court has decided that, even though one of a pair of twins will die, that surgery to separate them should take place. Some Doctors are saying that they will both die in six months time if the operation does not take place. -- McGlitchie Reply (Ref:8707p)

Q: Bluetooth What is this Bluetooth thing will it make my life easier?? -- Roxanne Spong Denver -- (Ref:4877p)

Question: Recently an embryo was selected and a baby produced so that he could save the life of her sister by donating cells.  Were the doctors right to do it??? If we could afford it I am sure that we would -- Anon (Ref:9813p) Reply

Q: Can the ultraviolet radiation used by dental surgeons to cure fillings cause cancer. --  McGlitchie Reply  (Ref:9722p)

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