Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Crusoe and Compasses

This is nitpicking but something bothers me about the last episode of Crusoe (besides the issue of slavery which I already blogged about).

Early in the episode Crusoe and Friday discover a damaged boat. It has an occupant who has a compass in his pocket. In the process of repairing the boat, the compass drops into a small fire. They pull it out. The wooden box is just a bit singed but Crusoe says that the needle has melted.

Really? The elements of this compass are a round wooden box, a piece of glass, a cardboard card, a brass spike to hold the needle, and the needle itself. The needle is iron and iron has the highest melting point of any of these ingredients. In fact, you could leave it in the fire until it burned out and fish the needle from the ashes unharmed (although heating can affect magnetism).

Crusoe and Friday borrow (meaning stealing) a compass from some mutineers. This one is similar except it is larger and housed in a brass case. At the end of the episode Crusoe pulls the compass from his boot and opens it showing that it is broken. Discouraged, he throws it into the sea.

Huh? The glass keeps the needle from slipping off but otherwise is unimportant. The needle should have been fine. He should have been able to have picked the broken glass out of the compass and still navigated with it.

Of course, if that happened the show would have ended on its 4th episode which isn't what the scriptwriters planned. On the other hand, given the ratings, the show might be in for a short stay, anyway.

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