March 14, 2013

It's the bosuns that float 'em

NO SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION of how metal boats float has ever been satisfactory to me.  I mean, I may not be an expert in hydrodynamic physics, but I’m not stupid. I know how wooden boats float. Wood is lighter than water, right? Naturally it floats. But boats and ships made of steel and aluminum, how to they manage it?

Well, it just so happens that a series of experiments undertaken by European scientists deep inside the mountains of France or Switzerland or somewhere have just discovered that mass is made of Higg’s bisons. Sorry, bosoms. No, bosuns. Yes, bosuns.

Now it also just so happens that water is made of mass, too. I mean, we knew that already but it’s official now.  Water is a mass of droplets, little round squishy fellas, shoving and pushing against each other, and each droplet is filled with Higg’s bosuns.  We have long known, of course, that bosuns have whistles and cats with nine tails but what is really new and exciting is that each Higg’s bosun also has a magnetic head and a magnetic tail.

Now, if you put a steel vessel into water composed of droplets filled with Higg’s bosuns, you get their attention immediately, and each bosun turns his little head toward the vessel just entering his territory.  Now these little fellas are very territorial. They don’t like sharing their space. Conveniently for them, their heads are magnetically positive and their little tail ends are negative, so when they all look up together their combined positive magnetism repels the positively-charged steel vessel. (Like poles repel, remember?)

Now although Higg’s bosuns are pretty powerful for their size, their size is very small.  So they only have enough repelling power to repel the vessel partly out of the water.  But it’s enough for most of our purposes.  At least it’s better than sinking completely.

I’m very thankful to those European scientists. This makes much more sense to me.  It also explains why those cruise ships keep getting into trouble when their generators fail.  They simply can’t generate enough positive magnetism for our jolly little Higg’s bosuns to repel.  The answer, naturally, is to spend a little more money on decent generators, but we’re drifting off the subject here.

Readers often comment on how much they enjoy my occasional forays into the esoteric corners of sailing, and I expect I shall get a lot of praise for today’s column because I am sure there are very many people who, until this moment, have been extremely puzzled about steel’s ability to float when it is shaped like a boat, but not when it is shaped like a flat iron or a bulldozer.

NEXT WEEK:  How Higg’s bosoms (sorry, bisons) turn aluminum into honorary steel for the purposes of magnetic repulsion.

Today’s Thought
If but a beam of sober Reason play,
Lo, Fancy’s fairy frost-work melts away!
­— Samuel Rogers, Pleasures of Memory

A newspaper in Warrington, England reported a follow-up to a break-in at a local school’s science laboratory.
“The skull, the skeleton’s hand and the guitar have been recovered,” said the Warrington Guardian. “However, the invisible man is still missing.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


KevinH said...

That's astounding! Who would've guessed? You see, it means that Higg's Bosom also turns Fibreglass into honourary steel so that it can be repelled. Why, now I remember a girl at school who also had a bosom of steel and when I tried to get anywhere near, - bvoy was I repelled.

Junaid said...

How does this theory work for aluminum boats which are not magnetic ? Perhaps another missing particle yet to be discovered ?