Thursday, January 07, 2010

Brass Monkey Weather!

The term "Brass Monkeys" is an accepted phrase used in the English language to indicate that the ambient air temperature (or weather) is cold. This use stems from a longer phrase "It is cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey". This generally perceived as a humorous reference to some unfortunate Brass Monkey who loses his testicles if the weather is too cold. Another derived phrase (but irrelevant to our story) is "it's cold enough to freeze your balls off".

The origin and true meaning of this phrase is actually totally unrelated to any form of animal or its testicles. Back in time to the period of the Napoleonic War, the great gunships of this time carried many cannons on various gun decks. As an efficient method of storage and delivery of cannon balls to the cannon for firing, a "Monkey" (this term is used to define a table and/ or a rail) made of brass was used to hold the balls. In very cold temperatures the brass would contract or even break thus allowing the cannon balls to roll off the Monkey onto the gun deck. Hence the sailors would say "it is cold enough to freeze the balls off a Brass Monkey".

Now brass has interesting properties, made from Copper and Tin, it is a good conductor of electricity and is hard wearing. Some of my VHF / UHF projects in the past required tuned lines, so I used brass for some of the thinner gauge lines because you could buy it at a hobby shop quite cheap.

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