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    Re: Electrical Wire
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2004 Mar 26, 21:54 +0000

    Perhaps I can squeeze one last drop of juice out of Robert Eno's search for
    electrical wire that would remain flexible down to -40 degrees, to
    illuminate his sextant. Someone suggested he should make sure the wire was
    fully tinned.
    I have no doubt of the virtues of tinned copper wire in a marine
    environment. Untinned copper wire (especially flexible multistrand) gets
    attacked quickly in salt air, goes black, and won't take solder thereafter.
    Avoid it.
    But down at -40 degrees? That reminds me of the story I heard about
    Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. He had issued his troops with campaign
    medals which were made of tin. As I remember it, tin has two allotropes,
    its crystal structure changing from one form to the other at such low
    temperatures. This change causes the metal to crumble. When besieging
    Moscow, Napoleon's troops found their prized medals falling apart, which
    added sufficiently to their general demotivation caused by cold and hunger
    that they decided to turn round and go home. The behaviour of tin at low
    temperature had a significant effect on the course of European history.
    I wouldn't wish Robert Eno to suffer in the same way that Napoleon did.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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