Thursday, September 25, 2008

Always use pencil

Write-in-the-rain notebooks are of dubious utility when used with water soluble ink...

Of course, waterproof ink in not necessarily a good defense. When I was a student, I once had a technician use my lab book to smother an ethanol fire. The fire went out, and the notebook even soaked up the residue, neatly removing the hazard. Trouble is, there aren’t many inks that aren’t soluble in ethanol. While the chromatography patterns were awesome, reconstructing my work for the past month was a bit of an effort. The nice thing about graphite is that it is insoluble in anything that doesn’t attack paper.

6 comments:

Silver Fox said...

Ahh... I can see a few paper - fire - ethanol experiments in the works!

Sabine said...

What I love about my Rite in the Rain from field camp is that the pages are smeared a little red from the Fountain formation dust out west. Makes me so nostalgic. :)

hypocentre said...

Reminds me of the semi-apocryphal story of the Americans spending millions on a pen that would write upside down and in space - and the Russians just using a pencil.

ChrisPhoenix said...

I wonder about the effect of a broken-off pencil point... conductive, floating... on spacecraft electronics.

Maybe the Russian electronics at the time were enough bigger than ours that they could get away with it. If we had 1 mm between wires and they had 3 mm, for example...?

Chris

Chuck said...

Chris, that's why they stopped using pencil. Somebody blogged the whole story recently, but I can't remember where (might be in the space carnival archives, or Universe Today)...

Ben said...

Pencils are good because you can fix mistakes much more neatly and easily.

When I was a courier I always used gel pens, because they would write on wet paper. Pencils won't do that. It still runs a bit though.