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Dates on paper clips

Collect them all!
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In its own environment, the paper clip has no natural enemies, and its projected lifespan could be hundreds of years. There is, however, no good way to determine how old a given paperclip is. Coins have dates, and so when an ancient and stained penny makes its way into our change we can marvel at it, and wonder about its story and long travels. Not so, the humble paperclip.

I propose that paperclips be made with a small flattened area on which the date minted is etched. This would have the added bonus of making paperclips collectible!

Sorry Bert - I mean _more_ collectible!

bungston, Mar 21 2008

please... http://www.matchitforpratchett.org/
[po, Mar 21 2008]

Office Museum http://www.officemu...com/paper_clips.htm
[Amos Kito, Mar 22 2008]

One Red Paperclip http://oneredpaperc...-red-paperclip.html
Unfortunately, this one had no date on it. But it was traded for a house. [Amos Kito, Mar 22 2008]

Towels on paperclips http://www.ohgizmo....07/04/towelclip.jpg
[xenzag, Mar 22 2008]

the Paper Clip Museum http://visualadvanc...aperclip/museum.htm
[xandram, Mar 22 2008]

[link]






       this is so dumb and useless I had to give it a +
dentworth, Mar 21 2008
  

       Genius.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 21 2008
  

       it would be even cooler if they also had a makers mark.
jhomrighaus, Mar 21 2008
  

       And pineapple on cocktail sticks?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Mar 21 2008
  

       I love it. I am always dismayed when I find something obviously old and interesting, but undated. Some books don't have dates.   

       I have a military surplus footlocker dated 1946.   

       Although I'm not certain about the "no natural enemies". I twist them into odd shapes to serve odd purposes sometimes - part of the "Norman Technology" project.
normzone, Mar 21 2008
  

       And the best batches were packaged separately as 'single barrel' paperclips.
daseva, Mar 21 2008
  

       Crystalline objects such as paper clips have imperfections which trap electrons. This process increases as time passes due to exposure to ionising radiation such as cosmic rays. The result is that its colour when it's heated to a specific temperature changes slightly, and also describes a different curve of luminosity as it gets hotter. Exposure to sunlight or heating resets these processes. I don't know any more. Anyway, this means that a drawer containing paper clips which have been left there for different periods of time could be dated by this process. It might also be possible to tell other things about their history. For instance, if a paper clip spends a long time near a CRT monitor, its colour and luminosity curves will be altered more than if it was near a TFT one, and presumably one under fluorescent lighting, near an open window, at a different latitude, under filament lighting and so on, would have this signature altered as well, though very slightly. Also, the pattern of magnetisation will have become fairly fixed during production of the wire, then shifted somewhat because of processes such as nearby artificial magnetic fields or vibration. Then there's the sulphur content of the atmosphere. Consequently, it might be possible to tell quite a lot from given paper clips.
nineteenthly, Mar 21 2008
  

       I read that as a soliloquy a modern Holmes might deliver to his Watson. It should conclude with a description of the criminal - his habits, temperament, appearance and motives. All based on a paperclip he dropped while leaving the crime.
bungston, Mar 21 2008
  

       I was trying to think of forensic applications as i wrote it.
nineteenthly, Mar 21 2008
  

       Future Arclipologists will revere the name BungCo.   

       No, they'll go out for futuristic donuts before they get that far.
daseva, Mar 22 2008
  

       Will they have perfected the mobius donut by then?
Canuck, Mar 22 2008
  

       Brill ! +
I detest the conventional use of paper clips myself, but have often included them in student creative thinking and making projects... contemplates paperclip with complete works of Shakespeare printed in it.
xenzag, Mar 22 2008
  

       + This might inspire manufacturers to make paper-clips from other metals or wood. I really don't like the plastic coated ones.
xandram, Mar 22 2008
  

       There wouldn't be room on one for both me and my date.
wagster, Mar 22 2008
  

       If the metal from which the clip is made is doped with carefully controlled trace amounts of radioisotopes, the activity ratio will allow a fairly accurate determination of age. [+]
8th of 7, Mar 22 2008
  

       // There wouldn't be room on one for both me and my date // lol, wagster. :D
drummac88, Mar 23 2008
  

       //Dates on paperclips//   

       Personally, I prefer those little cheese cubes and pineapple on cocktail sticks.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 23 2008
  

       Psst, [MB], I already did that gag.
So did [UB]
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Mar 23 2008
  

       Oh bollocks. Can't there be a little submenu of jokes-already-done to save one having to read the bloody annotations?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 23 2008
  

       This is potentially a way of disposing of radioactive waste.
nineteenthly, Mar 23 2008
  

       // a way of disposing of radioactive waste. //   

       "microdisposal" is actually quite a good idea.   

       Consider a large modern building containing many thousands of tonnes of concrete. If very small amounts (but more than the Avogadro dilution) of high-active waste (as acetate or nitrate) were incorporated into the concrete at mix time, the emission above background levels probably wouldn't be measurable, and the waste would be safely fixed for many, many years. Each new shructure might dispose of only a few tens of grams of waste, but the cumulative effect, by the time a few big bridges and motorways have been built would be enormous.   

       At a dilution of 1 in 10^6 (one gram of waste per tonne of concrete), a structure like the Humber Bridge - which used 480,000 tonnes of concrete in is direct construction, and as much again in the bilding of approach roads etc. would absorb the best part of half a tonne (dry weight) of nuclear waste.   

       Keep building big structures and pretty soon there'll be no waste left; in fact, there'll be a shortage, the price will go up, there'll be panic buying, a black market ....
8th of 7, Mar 24 2008
  

       Brings to mind that sci fi short where a professor who proposed a preposterous theory that paperclips were really an alien species, growing into wire coat hangers, and later maturing into bicycles, was found mysteriously strangled to death with a wire coat hanger. (The theory being intended to explain why you could never find any paperclips, while the closet was always full of wire coat hangers.)
DrCurry, Mar 24 2008
  

       I'm wondering how much general shredded garbage we can mix in with concrete.   

       Paperclips have at least one natural enemy. I have been known to turn them into hyperfast rubber-band-powered projectiles by opening the 'number 2 bend' and pinching closed the 1st and 3rd.
RayfordSteele, Mar 24 2008
  

       Would there not be a problem with transmutation? If something changes from a solid element to a gaseous one or mercury, would this not be a problem? Mercury vapour or radon leaking out of building materials doesn't sound like a terribly good thing. Maybe the quantities would be too small for it to be a problem.
nineteenthly, Mar 24 2008
  

       //I'm surprised we have never done the concrete disposal thing, as [8/7] suggests.//   

       It's a matter of perception. Low or moderate levels of radiation are really not especially dangerous, but they freak people out because of nuclear superstition.   

       Try taking a monitor and walking around in any public area with it. The slow click-click of background really worries people. They get more worried when you tell them there's nothing to worry about. Tell them you've put a few grams of nuclear waste in their office building and they won't be happy.   

       If you wanted to do this, you'd have to do it secretly. Of course....
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 24 2008
  

       You could do it with some roads and bridges. If people don't like it they can use a different route or get the train.
marklar, Mar 25 2008
  

       // you'd have to do it secretly //   

       But that would be bad, and wrong, and no democratic government would EVER do something like that to their citizens ... would they ?   

       You hit the nail on the head, [MB]. It's all a matter of perception.   

       [Ninteenthly], yes there are gaseous components. But the molecules are heavy and not that mobile (apart from Radon) and take a very long time to diffuse through a concrete structure. Anyway, Radon's pretty common anywhere that igneous rocks like granite exist; google for the Cornish Radon problem. Aberdeen and Edinburgh are similarly afflicted, sadly it has not yet caused Scotch people to drop dead in droves (or clans, or mobs, or whatever the collective noun is for kilted hairies).   

       The slightest bit of a breeze and the Radon is gone .... being a noble gas, it doesn't hang around.   

       <rant> The problem is not one of technology but of education. The great seething unwashed masses need to be educated, using the largest sizes of hammer if necessary. At thes same time, journalists need to be put up against a wall (preferably, one made of radioactive concrete) and shot. Preferably with DU rounds. </rant>
8th of 7, Mar 25 2008
  

       I know about the radon and granite (and i am to some extent a kilted hairy). I think it's probably a good idea. I'm not sure about the secrecy being a problem, because there's a whole load of examples like that. For instance, i don't know how many people know about smoke alarms being radioactive or the level of the X-ray dose from a barium meal/enema. If it's OK for that not to be common knowledge, why not in radioactive waste.   

       However, it has given me another idea, which i'm about to post.
nineteenthly, Mar 25 2008
  

       Wonderful!
calum, Mar 25 2008
  

       sounds like a sweet idea... where do paper clips go when they're lost? maybe we should put gps locators on them too! jk
twinkletoes1218, Mar 25 2008
  
      
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