Saturday, 17 August 2013

Moebius and Stones

From 'Kallee and Other Stories'
          I'm still sorting through all the stuff we had to clear from my late parents' house before we sold it. Not just their stuff, but the stuff they'd kept belonging to four children.
          A lot of favourite old things came to light. I've already blogged about one here - the book, Kallee and Other Stories by F. G. Turnbull.
          But we keep on finding other things.
          My Dad worked as an electrical rewinder. That is, he repaired electric motors, rewound their coils when they were burned out, replaced ball-bearings. He had to calculate the thickness of copper wire required and the number of turns needed to carry the required voltage. The number of coils altered according to the gauge of wire. Ball-bearings too, had to be ground to exact dimensions. Decades before the metric system was officially introduced, Dad was working in 'thous', meaning millimetres.
          (An aside, but I remember making a special trip to buy him
Casio Calculator: Wiki commons
one of the first calculators, which was nearly the size of brick.
This would have been the late '70s or early '80s. I had to club together with other family to afford it, and it had to be a 'scientific calculator', to be capable of the calculations Dad had to do. 'Do you really think he'll get any use out of it?' my mother asked anxiously, when she saw how much it cost. Any use? He wore it out. He was so thrilled with it, he almost smiled when we gave it him.)

          Anyhow, Dad worked with a lot of copper wire. As children, some of our play-things were twists of pretty copper wire, and old ball-bearings (some as big as golf-balls.)
          One of the things saved from my parents' house is this.

           It's a Moebius Strip, made from a piece of scrap copper. Dad read about this curious geometric figure - 'a surface with only one side and only one boundary component,' and he wanted to make one.
          He took a strip of copper, gave it a half-twist, joined the two ends and soldered them together. Run your finger around the side or the edge and you trace both sides and both edges without ever having to lift your finger from the surface. It's the same with the sides. It's a two-dimensional object in a three-dimensional world: it has only one edge and one surface.
          Dad stamped my name on the strip and gave it to me as a paper-weight. I don't think I've ever used a paper-weight, but I still have the Strip. I always loved the bright, orangey colour of the copper wire, and I think Dad's Moebuis Strip is a beautiful thing.

          A friend, Leslie Wilson, sent me a 'seer-stone' as a little gift once, It's a flint with a hole right through - a hole bored by natural forces. Such stones have always been regarded as magical, and one was said to have been owned by the Brahan Seer.  He called his an 'adder stone'.
          For some time now I've kept my seer-stone inside the moebius strip, in dogged expectation, or hope, of something weird happening. I'm not quite sure what.

          The small, brown stone is Leslie's gift. The larger one was given me by Davy, on his return from a trip when I couldn't accompany him. It's holed, revealing interesting little matrices in the stone, but the hole doesn't go all the way through.
          The stones and the moebius, working together, have produced nothing. As far as I know. Yet.
          But all three together? They have to constitute a charm, at the very least.

          And there's a Blott this week. Maybe the 'fluence of stones and strip can get us one for next week too, if we're lucky.



Bill Kirton said...

I want a copper mobius strip now.

madwippitt said...

The moebius strip explains the time travel theme in the Sterkarms though!

Blott - Nigella. Good choice ...

Joan Lennon said...

'fluence ... what a great word!