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   xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Mar 17 01:00 AM

Mar 17, 2009: Roundest Thing, Evah

Wolf came up with this item. It's a ball of fused quartz, and the most perfectly spherical object ever made by man.

Quote:
Itís only the size of a ping pong ball, but its surfaces are so smooth that were it blown up to the size of Earth, the tallest mountain would be only eight feet high.


Actually it's one of four.
Four? I'll buy making one to, you know, see if you can, but making four means they must have a use for them.
Yes, they go in a space probe.

Not the kind of space probe they used on Burt Campbell.


They're used in "Gravity Probe B", which has been up there a couple years now.

Quote:
Einstein's theory of General Relativity predicts that Earth, by rotating, twists space and time around with it, forming a mild vortex in the fabric of spacetime around our planet. Researchers call this "frame dragging." Most physicists believe the spacetime vortex is real, but no experiment to date has been sensitive enough to detect it unequivocally.

Enter Gravity Probe B.
They've wanted to test this since the 50s, but nobody had the balls.

Quote:
It was originally proposed 47 years ago (!!) ó but was delayed for decades waiting for funding, waiting for the shuttles to be built to get it aloft, then discovering that, whoops, the shuttles couldnít actually handle that sort of payload, then designing a rocket to finally get it aloft. They also had wait for all manner of engineering breakthroughs to make those spheres. But what a metaphorically lovely finale: The most perfectly round objects ever made by humanity, flying through the void on one of the purest scientific quests ever.
The whole complicated story can be found here, and here, where they explain all about the Gravity Probe B project...


EXCEPT, how they made the damn balls.


Crimson Ghost  Tuesday Mar 17 01:48 AM

So round...

So firm...

So fully packed...



SPUCK  Tuesday Mar 17 05:49 AM

Wow.. They have a lot of balls!



capnhowdy  Tuesday Mar 17 07:26 AM

I thought for a minute they had captured the terminator and cut his nuts off.



Pie  Tuesday Mar 17 08:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimson Ghost View Post
So round...

So firm...

So fully packed...
Who stole the Keeshka?


glatt  Tuesday Mar 17 08:44 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
They've wanted to test this since the 50s, but nobody had the balls.
Hee hee.

This was a cool IotD. Thanks Bruce and wolf!


Sheldonrs  Tuesday Mar 17 09:54 AM

Bah! You want to see something REALLY round, check out my stomach the day after Thanksgiving.



Gravdigr  Tuesday Mar 17 12:20 PM

Probably the most expensive balls evah...



Coign  Tuesday Mar 17 12:36 PM

Read the wiki for a current timeline. What I read from the ending is that the results, although indicative of proving the space-time warp, will be too inaccurate to determine definitive results.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_Probe_B



wolf  Tuesday Mar 17 01:58 PM

Nerdgasm.



Clodfobble  Tuesday Mar 17 09:29 PM

I want to touch it. What do you think something that smooth feels like?



Sperlock  Tuesday Mar 17 09:53 PM

Pinball, anyone?



Crimson Ghost  Tuesday Mar 17 09:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
Actually it's one of four.
Four? I'll buy making one to, you know, see if you can, but making four means they must have a use for them.
Yes they do.

They're in the process of making the worlds fastest marathon runner.

Ball bearings and a stick shift
old, old joke



Beest  Tuesday Mar 17 11:06 PM

Make your own, instructions are here.

Requires four slightly wobbly sewing machine motors



xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Mar 18 01:38 AM

Ah, thanks Beest. A ball grinder, I should have known, after all I married one.



Crimson Ghost  Wednesday Mar 18 02:09 AM

And we have a winner.



classicman  Wednesday Mar 18 10:24 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
A ball grinder, I should have known, after all I married one.
Only one?


xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Mar 18 11:39 AM

Only one grinder.



Wombat  Wednesday Mar 18 05:57 PM

It's a shame that the jam jar distorts the ball so it doesn't look at all round. I'd have thought they could do a better job of making a publicity shot which actually shows off its roundness.



Crimson Ghost  Wednesday Mar 18 11:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
Only one grinder.
Be it grinder, hoagie, sub, or hero, one is never enough.


xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Mar 19 01:46 AM

One of those was all I wanted.

@Wombat, there's a better picture at the second link.



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