I remember the old days breaking open a carbon-zinc battery and messing around with the carbon rod and the zinc casing. I guess I always was going to be an engineer. Certainly my parents had no clue of the potential (pun unintended) dangers and never a word was spoken about it.
We used to plate our copper pennies with mercury to turn them silver. And I often used to rub a piece of asbestos to get the fibres off.
Some stuff we did know was more dangerous though. We used to wander up to the railway lines (my best friend's father worked on the railways) and place a coin on the track and stand back. Then we would rush up to retireve the disfigured coin.
All these memories from a simple battery. Maybe we should call it battery backup!
I guess we all did dumb stuff. I took out the carbon rod from a battery, then connected it to the big alligator clips of a 12v car-battery charger. It makes a very very thick white smoke for a few seconds, then glows orrange. Makes a good prank, when put into my dad's speaker cabinet. At least I thought so at the time...
Coins on the train, I had a good laugh. Me and my cousin did spent lots and lots of time at the railway side. We invented a 'coin-from-the-track'- removal installation. The problem was this: With fast trains, the coin jumped far far away never to be found again. But with slow heavy cargo trains, the coin was flatter, just flipped off the track due to the lower speed.
We had this enormous switch, 100m of cable and a small electromotor + battery very close aside the track (really! ;-)
The train came... "Oooh it is a fast one!". One of us flipped the switch and the coin was saved. Actually it was more fun to save the coin than otherwise. The installation turned out to be very successful. Somewhere we have a metal sigar box full of very very flat coins.
I think these funny fantasies made us to become engineers, I am certain about that.
An interesting if useless bit of information, it's actually a federal offense to damage a coin in that manner, although I have a vague recollection of doing it myself when I was about 6. Slightly more useful info, if you drop money in Thailand or Malaysia (not sure which) and stamp on it with your foot to stop it rolling away you can be jailed for placing your foot on the kings face (must be Tahiland, I don't think Malaysia has a king). I read about this happening to a German tourist back in the 80's
it's actually a federal offense to damage a coin in that manner,
I doubt that US law would extend to what was Rhodesia, but I'm sure it was against the law there too. Hell everything was against the law- you couldn't warn anyone about a police speed trap up ahead because it was defeating the ends of justice.
Slightly more useful info, if you drop money in Thailand or Malaysia (not sure which) and stamp on it with your foot to stop it rolling away you can be jailed for placing your foot on the kings face (must be Tahiland, I don't think Malaysia has a king).
I once wrote a blog for the late lamented Microcontroller Central about an issue I nearly had insulting the King of Swaziland. I wonder if Max would be intersted in re-publishing?
:-) I forgot how international EEtimes was for a second.
I live in Oz and we have the same law regarding coins/currency as the US and I believe the UK is the same so I wouldn't be surprised if Zimbabwe's earlier government would have been any different. Re the Thai law there are probably only a handful of countries with something similar.
Not that I have ever done the 'train flat' coin thing, but someone I used to know said that if you tape the coin to the track, it won't fall off the track and gives it a chance to get squished by more wheels. It isn't illegal for the government to destroy its own coins. But the person actually doing it must have sanction, I imagine.