Day 6: Accurate Weighing Balance
day! Began with a helicopter ride up and over Franz Josef Glacier. Was
awake most of the night - too excited to sleep, at the prospect of this
flight (small child!). Had been hoping hard that the weather would hold.
blue sky - and a 'copter ride to die for. We swooped over smooth desert
- like snow-fields; craggy folded, madly-blue ice sculptures; over deep
fissures - of intense blue, over snowy, jagged tips of mountains and over
the whole Frank Josef Valley. The finale was swooping over a valley choked
up in cloud … skirting just above cloud level, in pointed bits of tree-top
sticking out of the cloud. Woosh! Just amazing. I just love helicopters.
Had tears in my eyes over the snow fields. Just excruciatingly pretty.
finally - we get "dumped" at the sawmill - our 'home' for the next 6 weeks.
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, with some more gentle hills nearby.
We are so, so lucky!
So - our challenges.
Pretty nervous - just how hard are they going to be?! Jonathan - a metal
detector!? Now that's hard! Me and Mike L - an accurate balance, to weigh
the kilos of gold Mike B and Ellen are going to collect.
A weighing balance
… it seems very straightforward. Mike L seemed a little disgusted - it's
just too easy, and not dramatic enough. He thought we'd be able to do
it in a day.
- making one that can weigh the amounts of gold M + E can get - I think
is pretty hard. Mike B thinks they're going to get 5 - 20g. I can't believe
that. I'd be thrilled to bits - but there's NO WAY. So - We decided we
needed to make a balance that could measure 5 - 20g - but could also weigh
things of past 10 - 100 mg.
We messed about with
a metal rod - a balance arm. It worked fine for 20g kinds of weights -
but wasn't so hot for ½
kg. And it needed to work for ½ kg - since that's the only weight
we actually have that we know is a particular weight. It's a 500g bag
of sugar. And if we can't weigh that accurately none of our weights will
knocked up another balance using a razor blade as a pivot, but it still
wasn't any good for 500g. Then we talked about using a length of tube
- fill it with sugar and the height would relate to the mass of sugar.
I was a bit less excited about this - the sugar probably packs differently
when wet and the amount you push it down the tube will affect the height.
BUT - if we could start with sugar - then say compare it with water -
that might work. And water has a density we know - 1 gram per cubic centimetre.
(If only we had some known volumes - eg, if 5 cm3 - we could
just do it all based on water. Sigh!
Anyway - I had a very
cold, sad end-of-day. I counted the number of nails in a big bag that
balanced against the sugar (12,081) and went off thinking we must be able
to do better than sugar tubes.