Metal Detectors - Tuesday, December 8, 2015

You thought there was no way the headlines for this blog could ever get more exciting than "The Encyclopedia" or "Watching Paint Dry."  Well, today is going to prove you wrong, because we are going to dedicate our time to talking about metal detectors - a most underrated innovation of the late-18th century.  As inspired by the examples of this fine piece of machinery displayed right next to the golf clubs that inspired yesterday's theme.

The first metal detectors date to the beginning of modern electrical technology.  Thomas Edison made his greatest advances in developing his light bulb beginning in 1881, but it was seven years before that when Frenchman Gustave Trouve created a hand-held, battery operated device to assist in locating and extracting bullets from human bodies.  Early machines used a coil that created a magnetic field to locate hidden metals (and no, we are not scientific enough to adequately explain that).  They were not especially effective and, in the case of the 1881 shooting of 20th United States President James Garfield, served only to confuse already unremarkable doctors in the search for the bullet lodged in his body.  The bullet did not kill him, the infections inspired by the surgeries to find the bullet did.

The first actual American patent for a metal detector was given in 1925, to a man named Gerhard Fisher, who accidentally located metals when he was working to create a radio direction-finding system to help with navigation.  Metals in the ground interrupted his signal and he had an eureka moment.  While some people see the metal detector as nothing more than a gadget used by people in the search for hidden treasures or lost keys, their value is much more relevant than that.  During - and more significantly after - war, they discover concealed landmines.  They can also be invaluable in locating veins of iron or other metals to assist in mining.  But the ones on display here at the American Treasure Tour are likely just the type you would use to find missing keys, possibly at the beach, where dad lost them after taking a dip in the ocean having forgotten to take them out of his pocket first.  Silly, silly dad.
QUESTION:  When Alexander Graham Bell used a metal detector to assist the doctors in finding the bullet embedded in President James Garfield's torso; however, it proved unsuccessful.  What was a primary reason for this?
A)  The bullet was ceramic, and the detector could not find it.
B)  A doctor had already removed it but didn't tell anyone, so he could keep it as a souvenir
C)  The metal detector had no power, which was discovered later
D)  Garfield was lying on a bed with metal springs, which caused interference.

WATCHING THE WHEELS.  Today was a sad day for music thirty-five years ago, when the mentally imbalanced Mark David Chapman shot and killed former Beatles frontman John Lennon outside his home in New York City.  Lennon was only forty when Chapman, a former fan of the Beatles who accused Lennon of hypocrisy in his life and ignoring God's edicts, shot him in the back four times.  Lennon died later that night while in the hospital.  Chapman is still in prison, appealing for his release.

I SAW YOUR WORK IN... Turning 65 today is Rick Baker, one of the best-known make-up artists in Hollywood.  Not only has he won an astounding seven Academy Awards for his work, but he has the distinction of winning the first ever Oscar for Best Makeup.  That was in 1982, for An American Werewolf in London.  He continues doing what he does best.  Let's hope he takes a day off to celebrate the big day!

QUOTE:  If you want peace, you won't get it through violence. - John Lennon

ANSWER:  D)  Garfield was lying on a bed with metal springs, which caused interference. Oops.