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A bit of culture


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It was necessary to keep a good supply of canon balls near the cannon on


war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the


problem. The best storage method devised was to stack them as a square


based pyramid, with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine,


which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be


stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one


problem -- how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from


under the others. The solution was a metal plate with


16 round indentations, called a Monkey. But if this plate was made of


iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the


rusting problem was to make Brass Monkeys. Few landlubbers realize that


brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.


Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass


indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come


right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, cold enough to


freeze the balls off a brass monkey. And all this time, you thought


that was a vulgar expression, didn't you? You must send this fabulous


bit of historical knowledge to at least ten unsuspecting friends. If


you don't, your hard drive is going to fall off and kill your mouse.





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