Today I learned ...

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Salmoneus
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Salmoneus »

Ser wrote: 27 May 2020 19:21
Omzinesý wrote: 29 Feb 2020 23:01A line on a vowel marked what is written with n not even a nasal vowel in some old orthographies. Maybe this is rather what I suppose. I must check again.
Yes, this was the case in various orthographies around the 13th century. You definitely see this in Old Spanish and Old French, e.g. OSp /ˈantes/ could be written <ãtes> (with ~ on the <a>) or <antes>.
Something I was just reminded of today is that there was something this in English once.

I was looking at a map today, drawn/written in the 18th century, and on it, there's a placename ending -stone. But on the map, this was written as -stoe, with a horizontal line above, running from the midpoint of the 'o' to the midpoint of the 'e'. Having seen it, I remembered having seen it before. But I'm afraid I don't know anything about it.
Salmoneus
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Re: Today I learned ...

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Anyway, he's something entirely non-linguistic.

I actually learned this a few months ago (or maybe late last year), but I forgot, and have just been reminded of it again.



So, you're on a building site, let's say. A guy wants to lift a heavy pallet by attaching them to a cord with a hook on the end. The cord can be steel, jute, kevlar, whatever, doesn't matter. I believe it can also be a twisted rope or cable, though it might get a bit trickier in that case; I'm not sure if it applies to more complicated plaited cords, linked chains, etc - I suspect it basically does but there's more complicated factors in practice.

So, they lift the pallet, but you want to save trips so you load more and more items onto it. But oh no, you overload it! The steel wire (for example) holding up the pallet snaps. Oh dear. But it's OK, the guy has another steel wire. It's the same type of wire - in this case, the same type of steel (I believe if it's a twisted rope it needs to have the same number of strands, degree of twist, etc, for this trick to work), but it's not the same thickness.

Now, you've already found out how much weight the first wire could lift without snapping. But this wire is a different thickness, so how do you calculate how much weight the new wire can lift before IT snaps? It's OK, you can measure the thickness of both wires to compare. But what's the equation you have to use?

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And what I've learnt/remembered is: it doesn't matter!

You can solve the problem through a practical method, without any equations. All you have to do is, if necessary, go back in time (or have been lucky/clever all along), and, as you put more weight on the pallet, keep flicking the wire with something to make it go 'twang' slightly. Observe how high-pitched the 'twang' is just before the wire snaps.

Now, in the current time, with the new wire, keep flicking it as you add weight, and stop when the 'twang' has risen in pitch to just before the pitch it made just before it snapped last time.


Why does this work? Because of a beautiful law of nature: for a given material and shape, a string will always snap at the same pitch, regardless of its thickness. The thicker the material, the higher the tension it can withstand (in this thought experiment, the more weight it can bear). The higher the tension, the higher the pitch of the twang it makes when you flick it. so the thicker the material, the more you can raise the pitch of the twang, by increasing the tension. But the thicker the string is, the lower the pitch of the twang it makes at a given tension. And miraculously these two factors exactly cancel out, so that the string always breaks at the same pitch, no matter how thick it is!



This has almost no real-world utility, but it is strangely cool.
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elemtilas
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by elemtilas »

Salmoneus wrote: 28 May 2020 01:10 You can solve the problem through a practical method, without any equations. All you have to do is, if necessary, go back in time (or have been lucky/clever all along), and, as you put more weight on the pallet, keep flicking the wire with something to make it go 'twang' slightly. Observe how high-pitched the 'twang' is just before the wire snaps.

Now, in the current time, with the new wire, keep flicking it as you add weight, and stop when the 'twang' has risen in pitch to just before the pitch it made just before it snapped last time.
Fascinating indeed! This trick works on fiddle & guitar & bass strings too! Even steel bars. Anything under sufficient and fixed points tension does two things: first it gets shorter -- metal is malleable and stretchy, which is why you can bend notes on a string instrument, but only to a point, and you can feel the tension -- when there's no play, it's probably too tight; and it also rises in pitch, as you well know -- as you tune a bass or guitar, you gently pluck & listen for the pitch rise. Normally, you stop when you get to the right pitch.

You can demonstrate the truth of the lesson without the danger of heavy pallets of goods and steel cables flying all over the place by the simple expedient of doing the experiment with a guitar. Just keep cranking on the tuning peg while listening to the string's pitch. When the string goes *tink!* you'll know it's broken. Get another of the same string gauge and crank on the tuning peg until you're a half step below the pitch where the other string went *tink!* and it shouldn't break.

Just use a light gauge string --- you don't want to break the guitar in the process!

Also, don't try this on a violin or upright bass, as you'll probably crash the bridge before coming close to snapping the string.
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Sequor
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Re: Today I learned ...

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I have some replies for Sal's posts in store, but meanwhile:
elemtilas wrote: 28 May 2020 02:19Also, don't try this on a violin or upright bass, as you'll probably crash the bridge before coming close to snapping the string.
Huh... For an anecdotal opposite data point, there was a moment when I was a young teenager when I saw someone, who clearly had no idea what he was doing, cranking a violin's peg so hard that the string snapped, and curiously (to his luck) it did not damage the bridge.

Oh, and that someone was me, but you know, it's a bit embarrassing to admit it even after so many years...
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Salmoneus
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Re: Today I learned ...

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Yes, obviously the law in question is primarily an issue with stringed instruments, but I tried to come up with a more ordinary scenario, rather than having it just be 'a cool fact about acoustics'.
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elemtilas
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Re: Today I learned ...

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Ser wrote: 28 May 2020 02:28 I have some replies for Sal's posts in store, but meanwhile:
elemtilas wrote: 28 May 2020 02:19Also, don't try this on a violin or upright bass, as you'll probably crash the bridge before coming close to snapping the string.
Huh... For an anecdotal opposite data point, there was a moment when I was a young teenager when I saw someone, who clearly had no idea what he was doing, cranking a violin's peg so hard that the string snapped, and curiously (to his luck) it did not damage the bridge.

Oh, and that someone was me, but you know, it's a bit embarrassing to admit it even after so many years...
No worries! We've all broken strings. I've broken violin, guitar and piano strings and managed to break a piano hammer as well.

Yeah, bridge crashes happen. Multifactorial, of course! Especially when changing the strings or adjusting the bridge, you have to make sure the bridge is aligned right: if you don't do that right, when you come to tune the instrument, you'll tip the bridge. Eventually, the tension will cause it to collapse.

In this case, just at the wrong time!.

If the bridge is set properly, as I expect it was in your case, the tension of the other strings will keep the bridge in place while you snap the string!
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Khemehekis »

TIL that Kay Starr, the twentieth-century jazz and traditional pop singer, was of Iroquois descent.
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by clawgrip »

Salmoneus wrote: 27 May 2020 23:56
Ser wrote: 27 May 2020 19:21
Omzinesý wrote: 29 Feb 2020 23:01A line on a vowel marked what is written with n not even a nasal vowel in some old orthographies. Maybe this is rather what I suppose. I must check again.
Yes, this was the case in various orthographies around the 13th century. You definitely see this in Old Spanish and Old French, e.g. OSp /ˈantes/ could be written <ãtes> (with ~ on the <a>) or <antes>.
Something I was just reminded of today is that there was something this in English once.

I was looking at a map today, drawn/written in the 18th century, and on it, there's a placename ending -stone. But on the map, this was written as -stoe, with a horizontal line above, running from the midpoint of the 'o' to the midpoint of the 'e'. Having seen it, I remembered having seen it before. But I'm afraid I don't know anything about it.
I'm a little late here, but if you check scribal abbreviation on Wikipedia, you can find the abbreviation you're talking about and several others.

You can check scribal abbreviation on Wikipedia for more info.
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