LAPIDARY ARTS and FACETERS DIGEST
Issue No. 170 -Monday July 21, 2003
Moderated by: Thurmond Moore III
Committed to carrying on the fine works of
Hale Sweeny and Jerry Dewbre
POST TO EITHER LINK BELOW:
VISIT OUR WEBSITE TODAY
WOW, BIG List today. Keep up the post. I
like it when you make me work. LOL
Index to Today's Digest
01 RE: Mine Run!
02 RE: Tanzanite
03 RE: Jamb Peg Machines
04 RE: gem sources
05 NEW: New Cutter and First Stones
06 NEW: hand faceting using "tinker toys"
07 RE: Good rough vendors
08 NEW: Buying Rough
09 RE: "Mine Run"=Bad Word.
10 RE: Thurmond's words, Joe Rubin's, and mine.
11 RE: Clearer Communications
12 NEW: Clarifications
13 NEW: in case somebody might be interested....
14 WTB: blue dendritic agate source?
15 FS: Australian Rough
16 BIO: first post hello
Subject: Mine Run!
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 16:46:51 -0400
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (LapidaryArtsDigest)
From: "Jonathan L. Rolfe" <email@example.com>
At 03:26 PM 7/18/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>So I would agree that some hi-grading occurs in most 'mine run'. But I
>would also argue that 'mine run' from reputable dealers still is a
>value, and has a better chance of 'winning' than buying a lottery
Haha! It sure did! :-) That's one of my favorite old rants, ignore it if
it offended anyone. But putting ourselves in the miner's shoes, just imagine!
They FOUND the stuff, and certainly deserve the first look. But no matter
how nice a guy the miner is, if the Cullinane Diamond fell out of a pile of
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 17:11:31 -0700
From: Tim Vogle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I do not know if this is common knowledge, but a friend of mine just got
back from Tanzania. He informed me that starting Jan 1, 2004 all tanzanite
must be cut before leaving the country. He is pretty reputable and just
got back from setting up cutting stations for them.
Tim Vogle's SE Exotic Bird fair'
PO Box 421
Redan, Ga 30074
770-593-3962 fair hotline
770213-5300 beeper and voicemail
Subject: [Fwd: [Fwd: Jampeg]]
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 18:45:05 -0400
To: Lapidary Arts and Faceters Digest <email@example.com>
From: Kreigh Tomaszewski <Kreigh@Tomaszewski.net>
Oops, typo in url. Drop the final l (s/b .htm, not .html). Sorry.
I had an interesting question posed to me today about jam peg faceting
that I don't have the experience/background to answer. I did find some
pictures of jam peg faceting and equipment at
for a starting point, and am hoping some of the experts on this list can
provide an explanation of jam peg faceting procedures and equipment. It
would be appreciated if you copied Tom, who posed the question, on your
replies to the list.
Thanks for helping!
From: "Tom" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 09:14:25 -0400
Dear Sir ,
I can not afford a faceting machine,is there anyway to build a jampeg? I
am in dire need of someway to do some faceting.
Do you have any other ideas on this matter?
Thank you for your time and consideration.
HI Kreigh, Here is a link to an orchid discusson on Jamb Peg
I also found Gerry Wykoffs Store on E-bay where you can get a
CD on how to build one.
Subject: gem sources
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 18:57:09 -0400
To: "faceter's digest" <email@example.com>
From: "Beth & Doug Dover" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Kreigh mentioned his contact who sells true mine run tourmaline. Can you
share any contact information with these guys? I might be interested in
a bag or three of their material!
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 10:01:30 +1000 (AUS Eastern Standard Time)
From: "Alf Blindell" <email@example.com>
hiya peoples, this hobby is very new to me as i have just returned from my
first stone collecting trip, and i must tell you, i had a ball. i went with
my sister and brother in law and between us we found heaps. as we live in
Australia, the gems we found were saphire, opal, garnets, topaz, thunder
eggs,(ge-odes)???, labradorite, and amethyst. we even called in to see a
friend of my sisters and he had me on the faceting machine the very first
afternoon. we stayed there 3 days and with his help i finished cutting 4
stones in 3 days and am now thoroughly hooked on all FACETS of the hobby,
returning home to Melbourne looking to buy a 2nd hand machine.
thank you for running an e-mag like this and allowing me to post
Hi Alf, It is an addictive hobby to be for sure. LOL
Congratulations on your first stones.
Subject: hand faceting using "tinker toys"
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 17:18:07 -0700
From: "F. Lowe" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In answer to the Queries on Jam peg faceting I have a suggestion for the use of
Tinker Toys to cut very good faceted stones .the Facetor or what you hold while
grindding the stone is made by glueing Tinkertoy pegs or dowels into the holes
around the rim of a Tinkertoy spoolor wheel .Four equally spaced pegs are used
for square stones and eight for octogen shaped stones .pegs must extend an equal
distance from the center of the hole and should be sharpened at the end to
reduce friction .numbers are placed between the pegs on the rim of the spool to
help keep track of the different sides of the stone. the dop stick is also a
tinker toy dowel - it has a small metal plate screwed to the end .this plate must
be at right angles to the dowel . this will make for even facets .The dopshould
fit tightly into the center hole . Do not glue in place ! The stone is glued to
the end of the dop on the metal plate .
A 3/4 inch 6x6 plywood block holds apiece of glass or plastic that the actual
grinding is done on.
A number of plywood blocks 6x6 inches abd several thicknesses topped by a piece
of glass or plastic are used to set the angle of the facet by changing the
height of the stack .Two holes are drilled at the rear of the blocks and dowels
are used to keep the blocks in line .A dowel is used to connect the glass
grinding blockto the stack of blocks - Bingo ! you have a hand faceter made
out of tinkertoy set !!
List of parts -- 2 tinker toy spools --- plywood blocks 3/4 inch 1/2 inch 1/4
inch thick-&6 inches square .--- 6x6 inch pieces of Forica or similar plastic
---4 --6x6 inch thick glass plates for grinding plates ---Grits -180--400--600
--and tin oxide for polishing -----small bottle for water and eyedropper
-----small drilled metal plates for dopsticks and small screws .---
when you get your Tinkertoy Facetor together
get some help from a handfacetor user and start cutting for a very very small
investment . GOOD LUCK AND BE A CREATOR !!!
I hope this is of help to the group --Frank Lowe canada
Subject: Good rough vendors
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 20:29:02 -0400
From: "denney.wilson" <email@example.com>
Unless anyone minds, I would like to add two vendors of synthetic
rough to the good rough dealers list. One is Creative Gems. They are
always helpful and honest and you car trust their descriptions. The
other is the Morion Company. Their only drawback is fairly large
quantities but, if you are in business or want to share with friends,
they are absolutely great.
As for natural rough, I have had very good experiences with the
Arizona Mineral Company.
Denney L. Wilson
Subject: Buying Rough
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 18:19:10 -0700
From: "Galarneau's" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When buying rough to determine if you got a good deal you must have
something to measure your rough buy against. I buy rough stones solely
for the purpose of cutting them and resale. To determine if the rough
is worth buying I spend a lot of time and money purchasing finished
stones from the large cutting centers of the world. I buy their poorly
cut stones in lots of 100+ carats. This gives me an idea of what that
quality rough would cost. Over the years I have determined that a good
parcel of rough will cut out to no more than 25% finished weight.
Normal yield is 15% or less for the whole parcel. I generally use 20%
as a guideline. That means that the finished stone in question had to
weigh 5 times more as a rough stone than the he finished stone. If the
finished stone is selling for $10 per carat, the rough should have sold
for $2 per carat just to break even. I assume they want to make a
profit of at least 25%. That lowers the price of the rough to $1.50 per
carat. When you look at rough from your supplier compare the finished
stone with the rough. Then compare the price. This comparison will
tell you if the rough is worth the price.
This leaves out any discussion about disclosure of treatments because
you are not going to get an honest answer from any of the cutting
centers. Also in 100 carat lots you can find a whole group of gemstones
that cost between $1.00 - $5.00 per carat in tourmalines, beryls,
quartz, and garnets. I have found that buying rough is a losing
proposition in business. Just my opinion and 25 years in the business.
Subject: Re: "Mine Run"=Bad Word.
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 18:54:43 -0700
To: email@example.com (LapidaryArtsDigest)
From: Tony <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> So I would agree that some hi-grading occurs in most 'mine
Any inspection, let alone high grading precludes the use of the
term 'Mine run'. The best you could call it is gem gravel.
> But I would also argue that 'mine run' from reputable
> dealers still is a value,
I have had fun and value with gem gravel purchases by the kilo
but have never bought anything called 'mine run'.
There are many instances of true 'Mine run' but rarely in the
field we are interested in. It is common practice for
prospectors to sell mining rights to their claims especially for
metal ore finds. The purchasers of the 'Mine run' use their own
personnel and equipment to remove the material. Ownership of the
claim does not change hands usually.
'Mine run' from gem deposits is usually handled similarly. A
company will arrange to purchase total output from a find and
generally organise and oversee the extraction process. The owner
might not even see the output for the duration.
For all intents and purposes as it applies to the interests of
this group I have to agree with Jon, there is no such thing as
Subject: Thurmond's words, Joe Rubin's, and mine.
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 19:12:42 -0400
From: "Douglas Turet" <email@example.com>
On Wednesday, Thurmond posted this note to all of us:
Ultratec has taken a beating these last few issues.
I hope that they catch wind of these discussions
and modify their methods to improve their company
and customer support. Most of the discussion has involved
customer support issues not a direct slamming of their product.
It is ok to air issues such as this in an effort to get an improvement
from a company but we must be careful not to directly slander or
make any false statements about anyone. We have seen the
trouble in the past from such things. Hopefully manufacturers will
use a forum such as this to look and listen to their userbase's concerns
instead of yelling lost revenue and lawsuit. That would be a trajedy indeed.
Several Manufacturers do maintain a subscription to the list and I am sure
they are "learning" from the mistakes of their competition.
...But what I consider to be the most important piece of information of
all was left out: the need to double-check our facts before *we* make any
comments, at all. In the case of one of my mentees/students/clients, he'd
sent his last set of laps back to their manufacturer, all but "yelling" (in
print) about how shoddy and defective they were, because they weren't 100%
flat (i.e. the familiar 'tic-tic-tic' sound, at each facet's completion).
For another, you'd have thought it was the end of the world when he received
parcels of Kenyan Tsavorite Garnet and AAA-color Zambian Amethyst that each
contained sparse smatterings of those locations' classic fingerprint
inclusions. And, again, more recently, there's Terrie Masters' misfortunes
with that garage-built piece of mechanical refuse which contained two or
three Ultra Tec parts and was subsequently labeled "an Ultra Tec" by both
she and a handful of others, who didn't know any better, either.
In all three of these cases, the biggest culprits to be blamed are the
one-two punch of product ignorance, coupled with the arrogance that comes
with pride of ownership, when any product fails to be as outstanding as we'd
In some cases, this is well-founded, such as when a piece of machinery
is purchased brand-new off the showroom floor and fails to perform as
advertised, or when a raw material is purported to be of premium quality,
and offered at top dollar, but (again) fails to live up to it's press. In
those listed above, however, it is up to the prospective buyer to heed those
ancient Latin words, "Caveat Emptor", and invest enough time into learning
about the intended purchase's product(s) to know what it is that he or she
is looking at, when it or they appear. To do otherwise -- to then point the
finger and accuse others in an attempt to deny and evade our own culpability
in having made an ignorant and foolish purchase MAY temporarily dull the
pangs of angst, and MAY provide us with a sense that our indignation is as
righteous as we might like it to be, but leaves us neither wiser nor better
equipped to overcome such circumstances, when next they arise!
In the case of Terrie's machine, it's flea market-esque sellers should
be strung up by their gonads in some town square, somewhere, for taking such
unfair advantage of her. Note that I said "flea market-esque"; I mean this,
verbatim. I call them this because Terrie did not buy that thing from Joe
Rubin at Ultra Tec, or from an Ultra Tec dealer, or even an Ultra Tec user!
She bought it from some dealer she'd met at a rock and mineral show who
claimed that it had been the posession of an old man who'd died, leaving the
machine behind. (Uncomfortably reminiscent of the used car dealer whose
"great deal" belonged to a little old lady who'd only driven it to church on
Sundays.) As I've said numerous times before (including once, here), that
Rube Goldberg construction she'd paid her hard-earned money for was not an
Ultra Tec, nor did it more than passingly resemble one, and the sad but true
facts of the matter are that it is not capable of being used as a faceting
machine (as is), and its buyer did not know that, at the times of its
purchase (she'd been sold the base and mast/head assemblies separately).
Where Joe Rubin and Ultra Tec are concerned, not a single syllable I've
read about them, lately, are either fair or true. Joe is the owner and
C.O.O. of Ultra Tec Manufacturing, and has always stood proudly behind
everything he and his company have produced. While there may very well have
been times when he and/or his underlings were so overwhelmed by orders that
they fell behind in their replies and correspondence, they've always gotten
back (to me, at least) within a few days to a week, and Joe, personally, has
consistently been both friendly, professional and extremely generous with
his time and help, whenever I've needed it. In fact, his professionalism and
consideration, combined with the overall reliability of the Ultra Tec
faceting machine are the reasons why I considered it such an honor when he
asked me to be the company's authorized representative for the Eastern
Massachusetts area, last year, and why I immediately accepted.
As I've said so many times before, Terrie Masters is a great friend to a
good many of us, myself included, and she has every reason under the sun to
feel slighted, cheated and abused, where her faceting machine purchase is
concerned... but not by Ultra Tec. The negative feelings related to that
machine of hers properly belong to the dealer who cheated her, and were only
magnified and misdirected by those others who'd informed her that the
machine was, indeed, an Ultra Tec, and should therefore be "made right" by
Joe Rubin and his people. After my last posting about this, Joe sent me the
letter which appears, below. I think reading it for yourselves will tell all
that really needs to be said about the man, the machine and the company. As
for me, I've set aside a few different kinds of faceting and cabbing roughs,
as well as small faceted stones for sale to all of you (and others), the
profits from which will go towards the purchase of a fine, new faceting
machine for Teresa. (For those wondering, I will not be accepting so much as
a cent of profit from these goods, until she has her machine at home and set
up, and I've trained her how to use it.)
"That's my story, and I'm a-stickin' to it!"
Douglas Turet, G.J.
Lapidary Artist, Designer & Goldsmith
P.O. Box 162
Arlington, MA 02476
Tel: (617) 325-5328
Fax: (928) 222-0815
From: "Joe Rubin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Doug Turet" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2003 19:01:34 -0700
xxxxxxxx forwarded Teresa's open letter--and forwarded, afterwards,
your response. Your answer was exact and accurate, and I thank you.
I saw on Teresa's face that she was unhappy about my communication with her
at the Show. I probably should have approached her afterward to ask her
more about what looked like unhappy feelings. My interest in seeing the
machine was just that--"interest"--and I didn't think (after our phone
conversation) that I had held out much hope in regard to the possibility of
"fixing" the machine. I feel that her condemning Ultra Tec
"service"--without explaining that it wasn't quite an Ultra Tec that was
being dealt-with in the first place (and it isn't an Ultra tec when she
"unloads" it either), was not fair.
I like the letter (xxxxxxx also forwarded) where the man wrote "Who is this
guy at Ultra Tec"--Joe Rubin--the people he deals with, everyone else at
Ultra Tec, treat him OK. Right on.
Anyhow--I'm sure Teresa is every bit as nice as you say. I guess my
communications needed to be clearer.
Thanks Joe, I learned to cut my first stone from your video and cut on
an old Stanley Model (R3043) .
I would be glad to have you as a list member if you are interested.
Direct vendor input only helps all parties concerned and in your defense,
none of this was about "YOUR" equipment but rather communications. It is easy
to fall into the trap of commenting on a situation without all (or any) of the
facts. Thanks for writing to Doug so we can put this issue to bed.
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 21:33:26 -0400
From: "Douglas Turet" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hi again, Gang,
For what it's worth, there seem to be a couple of misconceptions still
afloat about Terrie Masters' faceting machine and Ultra Tec's service
policies. (This my very well be my last posting on the matter.)
1) The stripped threads.
(Dennis attempted to address this one, Thursday) Fact: There's nothing wrong
with the worm gear threads on the machine's mast. Although these are neither
the same thread nor as evenly turned as those you would find on a true Ultra
Tec, and although they do not operate as smoothly as those on the "real
McCoy" do, they certainly will work well enough, if the clamps on them are
loosened and lubricated sufficiently. Where the problem does lie is in the
place where there *should be* a fine adjustment screw -- that is, the
finely-threaded 1/8" diameter, vertical bolt with the knurled steel or
aluminum adjustment knob, just behind the back of the quill, and/or in front
of where a dial indicator would normally mount. In lieu of this bolt (on
Terrie's machine) there now exists a smoothly-bored, unthreaded, 4-5mm hole,
running straight through from the top of the quill's yoke to it's bottom,
thereby rendering the machine useless, since angles cannot be properly
2) Ultra Tec's service policy, and/or which products to stand behind.
In 1994, I bought a half-kilo of some of the most awful, sandy and
unstable Lightning Ridge Potch-and-Color Opal I have ever seen or heard of,
from an Opal dealer I'd never seen or heard of, before, while at the Tucson
show. That parcel cost me $500, and was represented to be "a very good buy".
Instead, it turned out to be a very *quick* "good-bye" to both my money and
my time, since not even a single stone cut from it remained intact, so much
as a full day after cutting! Every stinkin' last piece of the stuff crazed
and shattered, some of it during dopping, some during cutting, and all
within 24 hours of it. Now, this past Wednesday, in his "CLARIFY" posting,
Bill B (Tymib@aol.com) said "I totally BELIEVE they should have made a real
effort to HELP."
Think about it, Bill: since Ultra Tec didn't make the machine in
question, isn't your statement an awful lot like my expecting or demanding
that you fix or replace the Opal rough those scoundrels sold to me, back in
'94, since you also sold Opal from that same part of the world? If two
pieces of your rough wound up in a three-kilo lot of some of that garbage
that was sold to me, would that make you either responsible or liable for
the quality of the entire parcel? If not, how would you feel if a whole slew
of people began circulating rumors and posting damning letters about you and
your rough, on the basis of a situation exactly mirrors that one?
While I agree 100% with you about the importance of attitude when
dealing with customers, and while I've been equally fortunate not to have
had much bad press through the years, I think it's really important to keep
the facts in perspective, here: Terrie got snookered into buying a machine
that was not made by Ultra Tec, and then was disappointed when Ultra Tec's
owner refused to stand behind something he hadn't made. Is it conceivable
that he could have offered to thread a 1/4"x20 carriage bolt into that hole
for her, and/or brazed a hex-nut onto the head of that bolt, in lieu of the
missing adjuster? Perhaps he could've, but only if his company's
manufacturing schedule would have permitted doing so -- and don't forget,
faceting machines are just a very small sideline-portion of the products
Ultra Tec makes.
In the end, we'll probably never know what Joe Rubin's options were, at
the time; the only thing we *do* know, beyond the slightest shadow of a
doubt, is that he and his company were not responsible for manufacturing
Terrie's machine, and cannot therefore be held responsible for making it
functional. Could he have been nicer in his approach to her when refusing to
try to bring something someone else had made up to Ultra Tec's
specifications? Sure, chances are pretty good that he could have. (And even
he admits that he probably should have taken more time with her, that day.)
But I don't think that "faux pas" warrants the kind abuse he and his company
have taken, here, as a result of this misunderstanding, and he surely
doesn't deserve to have his character assassinated any more than Terrie
deserved to be misled into believing that she was getting the machine I've
had such good luck with, when she was sold "that thing".
Thanks for taking the time to consider this, folks.
Douglas Turet, GJ
P. O. Box 162
Arlington, MA 02476, U.S.A.
Tel. (617) 325-5328
Fax: (928) 222-0815
Subject: in case somebody might be interested....
Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2003 07:59:38 -0500
To: "LapidaryArtsDigest" <email@example.com>
From: "Carol Carter-Wientjes" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I ran across an auction on ebay yesterday that I thought somebody in this
group might be interested in. The seller's name is "plumedude" and he is
selling off all of his lapidary equipment along with what sounds like a lot
of nice rock material. If I could afford it myself....but since there "ain't
no way". Boy, this fellow must REALLY love his wife and the new house he's
May the lapidary gods smile upon you, Carol
p.s. if you type in the search keywords SAWS & SHOP you'll pull up the
Subject: blue dendritic agate source?
Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2003 11:45:07 -0500
To: "LapidaryArtsDigest" <email@example.com>
From: "Carol Carter-Wientjes" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Does anybody happen know a source of blue dendritic agate? The blue,
white, w. black dendrites? I keep seeing it already cabbed but can't
seem to find any rough/slabs (via the Internet). Any ideas?
Thanks as always :-) Carol
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 11:35:17 +0930
From: "Eric" <EricWD@bigpond.com>
Concerning silver topaz rough. I have some here that I will sell on at
US$1.50 per crt flawless under 20crt. ea. Over 20crt. ea US$2.00 per
crt. over 50crt. ea. by negotiation.
I also have non treated sapphire rough to sell on. 1 to 3 crt. ea
various particolours US$5.00 per crt.
3 to 5 crt ea various particolours US10.00 per crt.
5 to 8 crt ea various particolours US15.00 per crt.
The topaz is from O'Brien's Creek outside Mt Surprise in Nth Queensland.
The Sapphire is from Rubyvale outside Emerald in Central Queensland.
I was not really ready to sell on. Have recently purchased scales and
digital camera in order to catalogue stones. but a recent posting has
spurred me on.
Stones will be individually photographed and described. I can email pix
of stones to interested parties. Post and Pack US3.00. despatched on
receipt of funds PayPal or direct transfer to account. Stones returned
within 60 days in same state as despatch refunded or replaced less
If list members can mail me direct with the size, colour, etc. I will
send pix and details of stone available.
Regards Eric from OZ
Subject: first post hello
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 10:28:39 +0300
From: "rehema kolly" <email@example.com>
Hi, I have a friend who keeps sending me on a few issues and so I decided to
join and look happily to learning from all the experienced people with such
I own a jewelry shop and do faceting. I am not great at it but i try hard.
I have a facetron and was shown how to cut by an srilankan gem cutter when i
visited there a long time ago. I enjoy my cutting and the end product is
good enough in results so as to set in my jewelry i make and sell.
I read with interest the mention of the Tanzanite wish that (john(?) had in
a post and since i have once been to the town of arusha where the tanzanite
comes from I was wondering how he could get that much tanzanite!..or perhaps
he was just having a dreamful moment and sharing it!.
If you have some spare I would be interested in a few pieces...
I cannot think if anything else to add, so I hoe that gives enough bio for
Thanks in advance to you all.
RESOURCES FOR LAPIDARIES:
PERSONALS: (General Lapidary and Faceting)
Lurking is fine, but participation is better for learning !
Post something from your experiences in gemcutting today!
TODAY'S FUNNY ~
Subject: TODAY'S FUNNY
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 01:22:58 -0500
From: gembin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Overheard conversation of two old-timers at a recent WW II veteran's
"Hey Joe, remember all that saltpeter they gave us servicemen back in
"You bet I remember it, Doug. They made us take them pills and even
mixed that darned stuff in our food! What about it?"
"Joe, you remember it was suppose to cool us yanks down so we wouldn't
get lustful when we was around women??"
"Yeah , I remember that stuff only too well, Doug!!"
"Well Joe...... Would you beleive that lousy no good stuff is finally
beginning to work!!"
Submitted by: ~ Doug Smith
REFLECTIONS AND TIDBITS:
Subject: [Fwd: question in physics]
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 19:00:43 -0500
From: Downey <email@example.com>
This legend, the truth of which is not necessarily related to
its value, concerns a question in a physics degree exam at the
University of Copenhagen: "Describe how to determine the height
of a skyscraper with a barometer."
One student replied: "Tie a long piece of string to the neck
of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of the
skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the
length of the barometer will equal the height of the building."
This highly original answer so incensed the examiner that the
student was failed immediately.
He appealed on the grounds that his answer was indisputably
correct, and the university appointed an independent arbiter
to decide the case. The arbiter judged that the answer was
indeed correct, but did not display any noticeable knowledge
To resolve the problem it was decided to call the student in
and allow him six minutes in which to provide a verbal answer
which showed at least a minimal familiarity with the basic
principles of physics.
For five minutes the student sat in silence, forehead creased
in thought. The arbiter reminded him that time was running
out, to which the student replied that he had several extremely
relevant answers, but couldn't make up his mind which to use.
On being advised to hurry up the student replied as follows:
"Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the roof of the
skyscraper, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it
takes to reach the ground. The height of the building can then
be worked out from the formula H = 0.5g x t squared. But bad
luck on the barometer.
"Or if the sun is shining you could measure the height of the
barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its
shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper's shadow,
and thereafter it is simple matter of proportional arithmetic
to work out the height of the skyscraper.
"But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it, you could
tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like
a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof of the
skyscraper. The height is worked out by the difference in the
gravitational restoring force T = 2 pi sq root(l / g).
"Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it
would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the
skyscraper in barometer lengths, then add them up.
"If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about it, of
course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pres-
sure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and
convert the difference in millibars into feet to give the
height of the building.
"But since we are constantly being exhorted to exercise inde-
pendence of mind and apply scientific methods, undoubtedly
the best way would be to knock on the janitor's door and say
to him 'If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give
you this one if you tell me the height of this building'."
The student was Niels Bohr, the only Dane to win the Nobel
prize for Physics.
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