Steve Dix...Comedian?

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09.05.2007 08:39 - Induction Course

This story takes place in about 1989, when I worked at a Naval Subcontractor noted for developing magnetometers. Hopefully I'm not breaking the Official Secrets Act by telling you about this. It was a fun place to work (for a while), and I could tell you a few stories about things like stirring your tea from under the table by using a 1-nanotesla magnet (which is about the size of a housebrick and hurts a lot when it lands on your foot, as I found out to my cost) to move the spoon, or to bugger up computer monitors (don't, they explode after a while) or to build huge 1-tesla dipoles for magnetometer calibration - a magnet so powerful that it would interfere with the ignition of the car towing it, and which caused problems by being attracted to other traffic when being towed. I could also tell you stories about my mad Irish boss, who planted one of these housebrick-sized magnets underneath our hire-car as we entered Portland Down Naval research station, to "see if the security guards notice it" (they were equipped with mirrors to check for bombs). This was the same mad Irish boss responsible for the macrame owls . But I digress.

We had a work-experience student who was told to build an interface circuit for a 1-Henry Inductor. He spent a day and a half arsing round in the lab looking for a 1-Henry Inductor, but could only find a 1-nanohenry one in the component tray.

For a good reason.

We only had one 1-Henry inductor, and it weighed close to three tons, which was why it was kept outside in it's own special shed, in plain view, at the end of the carpark, with a sign on it saying "1-Henry Inductor".

We all knew this, of course, but we were running a betting pool on how long before he worked it out - which took two days.

What was really depressing was that he tried stringing all the small inductors he could find together to make a 1-henry one.

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