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A 3 Pyramid Puzzle

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I came across this puzzle in Arthur C Clarke's novel "The Ghost of the Grand Banks". In one of the several sub-stories the young daughter of some very bright parents gets into trouble at school. Then came the second puzzle - if you join 1 tetrahedron and 1 square based pyramid (whose triangular faces are also equilateral triangles) how many faces are left? All the kids answered 7! (4 + 5 -2), except for the girl in question, who said 5. She refused to retract her answer, and was accused of stubbornness and just being plain difficult. A letter was sent home. MORE...

A Magic Book about the Black Dog (His name was depression)

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The company I work for is running some seminars as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. One of the speakers was Matthew Johnstone, Kiwi, artist, advertising creator, survivor of the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Centre, and a sufferer from depression. Matt spoke about his long struggles, and how he eventually composed his book "I Had a Black Dog". Matt is a great communicator and cartoonist, and his book has few, but well-chosen words, and great cartoons. It tracks the course of his own depression and recovery (not cure). He spends a lot of his time now touring around speaking to any who will come to hear, including struggling farmers in the drought ravaged parts of Australia. MORE...

An Old Steam Winch

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We saw this interesting old steam winch at the wonderful museum at Wollombi in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia. Here is the text on the placard:- MORE...

Cheap, Durable and Simple Painting of Galvanized Steel

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Years ago in my job as a mechanical engineer in a large oil refinery I read a book put out by the galvanizing industry association here in Australia. I can't remember the title, but I do remember the section on how to make paint stick to it permanently. More precisely, what sort of paints will do the trick. If you are not after a super hard or shiny finish, there is a paint that is commonly available, cheap and durable, and comes in an almost infinite range of colours. What is this magic paint you ask? Plain old water-based external house-paint! In Australia we call it "acrylic" paint, though it isn't always a true water-borne acrylic resin. In the USA I believe it is known generically as "latex", though again this is a misnomer, as it has nothing to do with natural rubber resin (ie, real latex). MORE...

Money Bags HOAX Email

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We got this email (below) this week assuring us that July 2011 is the special event of a month with 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. So the tale goes, this only happens once in 823 years. "The proverb goes that if you send this to eight good friends money will Appear in next four days as it is explained in Chinese FENG SHUI." MORE...

Tardus Image Gallery

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I've made a gallery of the images on this web site, in case anyone is looking for a picture or photo, or wants to find its source. There are 2 gallery pages that are automatically regenerated at frequent intervals:- MORE...

Targus AMP06 Wireless Presenter Mouse

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If you do many computer-based presentations this little gizmo is a real boon.

The Good Oil

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Before I retired I worked for over 30 years in the oil refining industry. A friend asked me to give a talk about oil at a men's shed night in a farming community, so here is "The Good Oil" (his title suggestion, not mine, though I think it a very good one. In Australian slang "the good oil" is something that is reliable, or true, something that delivers on its promise). As the aim is for a quick yet interesting overview, with a time suggestion of about 15 minutes, this is of course not in any way comprehensive, but I hope it is useful. I will of necessity break two cardinal principles:-

The Virtues of Thin Grinding Discs

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Metal cutting wheels (disks) for angle grinders come in a number of thicknesses. I've always used the thicker 3mm ones in my handheld angle grinder, because they ought to be more robust and less likely to shatter.

3mm thick metal cutting wheel

MORE...

Using a Pair of Vise Grips as a Nut Cracker

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As my hands get older and stiffer cracking nutshells becomes a problem. It occurred to me that what was needed was a nutcracker with a compound action, so that a larger force could be exerted on the shell without needing the strength of Hercules. It would also help if there was some way to prevent the nut being crushed completely when the shell does give way. At that point it flashed into my mind that I already had several such devices in my workshop. They are called vise-grips They already have the compound action, so that they can strongly grip worn or frozen metal parts, and the jaws do not fully close unless you want them to. MORE...


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