Apparently there was a transformer meltdown in New York last night. The whole sky lit up bright blue and social media went straight to aliens - when my wife showed me the video I started gibbering "Ooh, big fault! Arcing! BIG FAULT!"
So to understand this news, and to understand why this is so rare, and to understand the post-19th Century world in general, how DOES a transformer work, anyway? Well...
1. When we send current through a wire, it creates a magnetic field around the wire, made up of "waves" of strength. You can see the shape of the waves by putting a piece of paper over a magnet and sprinkling some iron filings over the top.
2. When we wrap wire round and round a spindle (like a thing of sewing thread), these waves overlap in the middle and add up to a stronger force. This round-and-round wire is called a coil or solenoid.
3. When we put current through the coil, it turns into a magnet.
4. It works backwards too - when we move a magnet through the middle of the coil, we get some electricity out!
5. Electricity in this context is a unified flow of free electrons. The magnetism pushes the electrons through the wire. So the magnetic field has to be MOVING in relation to the coil in order to MOVE the free electrons around.
6. In alternating current, the polarity changes fifty or sixty times a second.
7. So a magnetic field created by alternating current through a coil of wire will be constantly moving even if the coil physically stays in the same place.
8. A transformer is two coils of wire wrapped around an iron frame. The first coil accepts a given AC voltage as input.
9. The iron frame helps "channel the magnetism" into the second coil, where it moves electrons around to create electricity.
10. The two coils aren't electrically connected together at all!
11. The voltage you get out of a transformer depends on the relative number of turns of wire in the secondary coil versus the primary. If the secondary coil has fewer turns of wire, you'll get out a lower voltage. If it has more, you'll get a higher voltage!
12. Transformers are thus used to change a low voltage to a high one for long-distance transmission, and vice versa for local electricity distribution.
@ifixcoinops I did !
good informative fun here but I also hope you appreciate what it's like to encounter the last toot without context and immediately think it's about, you know, Transformers(tm).
in general I know very little about electricity, so this was a very informative thread, thank you
Went and looked for it after you mentioned it:
A megawatt of power there, creating a blue and ultraviolet plasma hell around that substation? Hard to estimate the size of the discharge from its city-wide luminous emission.
I'm thinking about 20 50 kilowatt searchlights, so yes, likely the better part of a megawatt.
Transformer might have .. externally damaged .. or maybe just been too hot too many times.
Optimus Prime lied to me all these years
@ifixcoinops also usually because of all the associated flash and boom
Great explanation btw
> to understand this news, and to understand why this is so rare, and to understand the post-19th Century world in general
CAN I PLEASE UNDERSTAND MY BREAKFAST CEREAL FIRST
@sydneyfalk reciprocal <3 but also on the subject of breakfast cereals OMG WHY ARE AMERICAN CORNFLAKES SO BAD. The Kellogg's in the UK is fine and I assumed the same brand would be good in the US too, but they're DREADFUL! They're tasteless and gritty like the nastiest 30p-a-box supermarket own brand crap. I have to buy the expensive organic cornflakes from Trader Joe's to get what I'd consider bog-standard Kellogg's quality. HOW IS THIS HARD I THOUGHT CORN WAS AMERICAN
because this is the United States, we have a film to explain
you see, Road To Wellness was a historical documentary, and John Cusack invented corn flakes by accident purely to make money after vilifying masturbation, and
okay, so the important part is that you have to remember the United States is basically shite start to finish, and if our elected representatives can get extra money for letting corn flakes have lead or asbestos in them they will, because
money money money
also corn isn't even natural, IIRC humans selectively mutated some wheat or shit to make this absurd joke of a plant that is admittedly pretty tasty on the cob with butter and salt but happens to be an abomination of nature
see how all the pieces fit together? is the puzzle clearer yet?
Narrator: Sydney did not realize the puzzle was not a puzzle, she simply had no idea what was going on -- like most United States citizens. She thought it might sound clever. It did not.
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@sydneyfalk by that standard, just about nothing we eat is "natural". :)
corn gets a bum rap because modern industrial ag & food systems have been optimized to produce a staggering quantity of it and it's become one of a handful of universal feedstocks for lots of food processes, so (like soy) it's in practically everything you can buy at a grocery store that isn't, like, just a plain vegetable.
(and also because people are freaked out by genetic engineering, but that's another question.)
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@sydneyfalk despite this reputation, it's a wonderful plant with many interesting properties and beneficial uses. it's a new world crop descended from a wild grass, and it's probably been in use for 10k+ years. i'm far from an expert on this, but as i understand it various strains are an important part of the agricultural heritage of native peoples all over the americas.
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> nothing we eat is "natural"
I know! And I'm peachy with it. I like spreading the word, in fact -- none of these plants are what we know now, they all have forms we're unfamiliar with, etc.
'Natural' is one of those unfortunate words that primal human minds still cling to as if somehow 'natural' for humans isn't 'being eaten by bears naked in the woods alone' and shit.
@sydneyfalk @ifixcoinops Absurd joke? Abomination? Just wondering if you are kidding or serious.
Maize/corn was developed from Teosinte by selective breeding over thousands of years by early Mesoamericans.
Why is that worse than natural selection by environmental changes or the activities of other animals (e.g. insects have greatly affected the evolution of some plant species) Why does the involvement of humans make it an abomination?
Perfectly fine! ^_^ I often have difficulties with detecting sarcasm myself. Also, I will often post additional disclaimers if I'm injecting into a conversation where people don't know me well, but I knew Dan would get that I was funnin', and that I could explain (or he could!) if it wasn't clear. <3 No worries!
@sydneyfalk Every time I come across a thing here that makes no sense I turn it around and around in my head trying to figure out why it is the way it is before I remember the whole "Shite from start to finish" bit and I go "AaaAAAaaah, yes, I remember now."
@ifixcoinops I wish I could have seen it in person, the videos looked fascinating.
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