Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shrinking Coinage

No, this isn't what you think it's about. Now and then I drop in over at the Bad Astronomy blog, on the Discover site, just because it's cool. Today I dropped by and found a post called Coin Deflation, about a group of techies who "strap a scary big capacitor onto a U.S. quarter and zap it with 15,000 Joules." If you are into techno gadgetry, you should follow the links and look at the slow-mo videos they posted of this process, because they're fascinating - and for the bang-and-flash addicts, there's even a video section entitled "gratuitous explosions."

The point is what happens to the quarter when you do this: it shrinks in size. Quite a lot. It doesn't become lighter, I'm interested to read; so it must become denser.

These guys are evidently total lab rats, because of all the comments (9) on the original site, and on the Bad Astronomy post (20 when I looked), not one single person made the obvious (to me) joke about the value of the quarter decreasing! One guy asked if it was still worth 25 cents (nobody answered); and one guy admitted sheepishly to have "plunked down good money for bad" by buying a shrunken quarter because it was "awesome." No currency deflation references.
No bad economy jokes at all. We're in the worst economic mess in living memory, and these folks shrink a quarter to half its normal size, and the connection doesn't even occur to them.

I love the human race. I just hope it can keep from killing itself with those gadgets.


  1. I'm old enough to remember when you could buy a gallon of regular for 24 cents. 24 cents!

    I'm old enough to remember when parking meters took pennies. Pennies!

    I'm old enough to remember when I could take my family out to dinner at a fairly good restaurant and the bill with tip came to less than $30.

    Now these new meters will give you 6 minutes for a quarter. Time is money, so time must be getting dearer!

  2. Well, time sure seems to me to be shrinking! Just like the quarter...

  3. Ha! On Guam in 1969 I paid $.014 for a pack of Winstons!

    Now: $5.87 for a pack of Marlboros at the Dollar Store. Same pack is $7.79 at Safeway.

  4. This video at 100Kframes/sec was a lot of fun. Most of those kind of amazing concepts I'd never expect to be able to visually witness.