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Bet you didn't know this!

Posted by saw on September 28, 2004, at 9:42:24

In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters
carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It
was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon, but how to prevent
them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a
square based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on
nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could
be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from
under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with
16 round indentations. But, if this plate were made of iron, the iron
balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was
to make "Brass Monkeys." Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts
much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the
temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much
that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was
quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey."
(And all this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't





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