Friday, October 17, 2008

Gauss and his Meter

What is a Gaussmeter?

A Gaussmeter measures magnetic flux, or field, in this case with what is know as a Hall-Effect probe, an unusual transducer that changes its resistance as a magnetic field is varied.

Gaussmeters are used all over the place to check and measure magnets, and we of course use a Gaussmeter to measure the strength of the magnetic field in a ribbon microphone, and to check for proper orientation of the magnets.

Gauss is one of the most important mathematicians of all time. The so called 'bell curve" is more correctly known as a Gaussian Distribution, at least in the scientific world, and in statistics. Gauss and Chladni layed the groundwork for Quantum Mechanics. Chladni demonstrated "forbidden modes" with his sand-covered vibrating plates, and Gauss developed the math used to describe the distribution of values around a nominal quantity. It turned out to be quite important: every thing, every deal, house, cat, air sample, Queen Mary, is subject to the uncertainties of Gaussian variation. Nothing is quite precise, except perhaps the number itself. Piles of snow, averages of anything, and even you as a person, fall somewhere within a Gaussian distribution. Taken in sets, such as sets of real estate bargains, Gauss assures us that out at the ends of the distribution there are a few very horrible and a few unbelievably great deals. Though few they may be, Gauss tells us to look for them, especially when we need only one.

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