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This area has been established to allow you, our visitors and contributors, to get to know one another a bit better, or to discuss subjects of general interest, without feeling obliged to restrict your postings to language-related topics. But we draw the line at floccinaucinihilivilification.

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Post by BILL KENDRICK » Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:37 pm

Now, for you purists out there, I'll substitute this word for--VIBRISSA--The stiff hairs growing in or near the nostrils of certain animals, acting as organs of touch---yup, just like cat whiskers. To further confuse things, and date myself, have any of you out there in cyberville ever put the vibrissa to a chunk of galena in an attmept to extract electromagnetic waves from the ether? If you are able to answer this conundrum, you qualify to attempt to break the Imperial Japanese Naval Code.
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Post by Laurie Reinders » Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:45 pm

No, I haven't.

As I'm turning into a cybernerd, I did instantly find that this is known as a 'Galena Detector' & that a 'chunk of galena' is lead sufide (PbS).

I faintly recall my high school Chemistry teacher discussing such a 'tool' in class one day.
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Post by dalehileman » Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:54 pm

Yes, about age 8 at a small town in the Upper Peninsula. In the daytime we didn't get skip from Chicago and other such clear-channel stations so all I could hear was one or two locals. The daytime reception was blamed on iron deposits but I have always doubted that
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Post by Shelley » Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:20 pm

Shoot, I thought you were talking about static electricity generated by rubbing a balloon against your hair! Guess I don't get to contemplate Japanese navals, after all. Shoot.
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Post by Laurie Reinders » Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:54 pm

Rubbing a balloon against your hair (or your baby's) is more fun then as there's not much giggling involved in deciphering.
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Post by russcable » Thu Jan 26, 2006 8:10 pm

dalehileman wrote: Yes, about age 8 at a small town in the Upper Peninsula. In the daytime we didn't get skip from Chicago and other such clear-channel stations so all I could hear was one or two locals. The daytime reception was blamed on iron deposits but I have always doubted that
Translating from 1938-ese via Wikipedia (I had to look it up, so I thought I might as well share): "Clear channel stations are AM radio stations that are designated as such so that only one or two 50,000 watt powerhouses operate at night on each designated frequency, covering a wide area via sky wave propagation. " and "the Upper Peninsula" is the north part of the state of Michigan for those of us not intimate with US geographical nicknames.
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Post by Laurie Reinders » Thu Jan 26, 2006 8:17 pm

The U.P. is indeed the north part of Michigan or as we Wisconsinites like to call it...Wisconsin ;)
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Post by haro » Thu Jan 26, 2006 10:25 pm

Correct, the Upper Penisula is that part of Michigan between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. As stated elsewhere by my humble self, in the UP it's called "da UP," hence its inhabitants are "da Yoopers," and their still pretty heavy Scandinavian accent is called "Yooperish." Their only connection, other than through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan is the "Big Mac," sometimes also called "Mighty Mac," the Mackinaw Bridge across the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. 'Mackinac' is sometimes spelled 'Mackinaw' and always pronounced like the latter. "Mackinaw, that's the law; Mackinac, pain in the neck" (old proverb in the Mac area). Are we enough off topic now?
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Post by Laurie Reinders » Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:17 pm

Da Yoopers are the original recording artists of "Grandma got run over by a reindeer"
...a fun fact but whey off topic ('cheesy' pun intended)
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Post by russcable » Fri Jan 27, 2006 12:03 am

AFAIK, Da Yoopers are the original recording artists of "Grandpa got run over by a beer truck" (1993) not "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" (1977 - Randy Brooks, 1984 - Elmo & Patsy)
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Post by BILL KENDRICK » Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:01 am

You win Laurie--it is indeed a component in a crystal set. Got mine when I was 8 years of age. I used the bed springs for my antenna-worked great! You go to the head of the class in the school--the one in down town Tokyo. And by the way folks, I AM a Yooper from the U.P. of Michigan-the Soo to be exact. For all of those who have never heard of the Garden Spot of he U.P., that is Sault St. Marie (Michigan). And, it is not the one by the same name, full of Canucks, on the other side of the straits. You folks are just TOO sharp for me, I'll have to be more devious:)

Thanks again for all of your input. Bill
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Post by Wizard of Oz » Sat Jan 28, 2006 2:29 am

.. ok so it's picky picky but Bill I think several of your posts should be moved to Addict's Corner .. the idea of creating the extra divisions at Word Wizard was to try and keep things a bit sorted .. great fun Bill but if you are to become a regular contributor it helps if you use all the site .. just a thought ..
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Jan 28, 2006 2:59 am

WoZ makes a reasonable point. I have since moved this posting to 'Addict's Corner'.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Jan 28, 2006 3:39 am

As any 1950s nerd (not sure what they called us back then) will tell you crystal sets were big in those days. I think I sent away for mine and it couldn’t have cost more than a few bucks, if that much. The CAT’S WHISKER (1915) itself was a piece of wire or a needle of some sort that one pushed into a little circular cup (I’m guessing about 3/8 in diameter) with a galena crystal in it, which formed a rectifier contact which did what a diode or transistor does today – change A.C. to D.C. The crystal looked like lead and I thought it was soft like lead, but now that I think about it, that doesn’t sound right for a crystal. Anyway, the thing that amazed me about the crystal set is that it had no visible source of power – no battery, no plug, no amplifier, no nothing. Magic! There had to be enough power, though, to get the sound of the radio stations in the headphones, and I guess the radio signal itself was all the power that was needed, because the proof of the pudding was that it worked!
<1915 “Adjust the wire until the pointed end presses on the crystal and you will have what is called a CAT-WHISKER detector.”—‘Book of Wireless Telegraphy’ by A. F. Collins, page 205>

<1923 “A crystal called ‘Radiocite’ . . . used with a ‘CAT’S-WHISKER’ contact, and the pressure necessary is extremely light.”—‘Daily Mail, 28 June, page 13>

<1924 “Even the newest of scientific toys, the radio, uses such a Greco-Latin vocabulary; the solitary exception is the CAT’S WHISKER, easily latinized as a ‘saeta felina,’ or, to use the actual zoological term, ‘vibrissa.’— ‘Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 63, No. 1621, January, page 166>

<1948 “The CATSWHISKER can be mounted in slots at the top of the copper base pins, using a dummy crystal..to align the tips of the wires.”—‘Electronic Engineering,’ XX. 354>
(Oxford English Dictionary)
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Ken G – January 27, 2006
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Post by haro » Sat Jan 28, 2006 9:52 pm

Ken, I still have a galena crystal from my Dad's radio set of the early 'thirties, and it's fairly hard, unlike lead. It pretty much looks like a fragment of silicon. By the way, point-contact silicon and germanium diodes were produced and widely used way into the 'seventies. I still have hundreds of them i my lab.

You are right, the crystal radio set used the energy of the radio signal and nothing else. The AM signal was rectified, leaving only either the upper or the lower half. The HF carrier wave got stripped by the coil of the headphone, sometimes improved by kind of a simple low-pass filter.
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