Sunday, July 9, 2017

Collector's Items

Last week Red Baron read in the Badische Zeitung about a collector's item. The Ritter firm known for its square Sport chocolate bars had produced a limited edition called Einhorn (unicorn). The item went viral so now on eBay collectors pay more then 100 euros for a bar and more than 10 for an empty package.

The article in the BZ was actually more about the history of the unicorn, a mythic animal that had fascinated my grandson when he was young but as my son-in-law smugly remarked I should have told him in French about the licorne.

Let's continue instead with collector's items. In my last blog I had mentioned two of them: the Madison flag and Fox & Friends (not the tv-show but the craftbeer).

It was my American friends who told me that the present flag would soon be outdated. Its center drawing standing for the Madison capitol on the isthmus between the two lakes somewhat resembles a Native American sun symbol and therefore must be replaced, Mayor Paul Soglin said. So I'd better talk to Freiburg's city officials about taking down the Madison flag on the Kaiserbr├╝cke and keeping it in a safe place.

The other item is the craftbeer Fox & Friends with only 400 bottles brewed on the occasion of the Partnerschaftsmarkt. Red Baron bought 1.5 % of them, drank one with Elisabeth, and hid five in his cellar for special and future use. In the meantime one of the American visitors took home an empty bottle, a collector's item q.e.d.

But there is more.

Red Baron still owns an HP-35. This was Hewlett-Packard's and the world's first scientific pocket calculator with trigonometric and exponential functions. The HP-35 used Reversed Polish Notation in a stroke of genius* and was sold in 1972 for U$ 395, a small fortune at that time that CERN paid.
*RPN always means one keystroke less than the classical notation

The HP-35 meant a major breakthrough in radiation protection. When calculating Curies into Becquerels we used slide rules but getting the order of magnitude right was another story, e.g., 1 ╬╝Ci = 37 kBq.

The NiCd battery pack has long since gone but you can operate the HP-35 and its red light diodes on AC power or you buy new expensive NiMH battery packs on the Internet.

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