[meteorite-list] Scalecube Family

From: Matthias Bärmann <majbaermann_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2007 08:53:48 +0100
Message-ID: <001101c822a5$aac8be50$0200a8c0_at_ibmtp23>

for the listed wuerfel-aficionados :

the instruction leaflet of the last box with zuckerwuerfel I bought
yesterday informed me that "in shape and weight zuckerwuerfel depend much on
surrounding humidity and therefore shouldn't be used as scale cubes together
with zag, for instance". should be taken into consideration in
meteo(c)ritical circles.

----- Original Message -----
From: "mexicodoug" <mexicodoug at aol.com>
To: <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Cc: "Martin Altmann" <altmann at meteorite-martin.de>
Sent: Friday, November 09, 2007 6:33 AM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Scalecube Family

Dear List,

Hmmm. Very meteorite related! Now for a fun post. Great history on the
Scale Cube, Svend, and thanks Mike for the additional information! Given
all the interest in scale cubes, I've compiled a history of the scale cube
prior to the ones developed by the Russians and NASA (it is below my answer
to Martin's question). There wasn't much info available on your sites about
what was used before NASA, except the cube that Mike Jensen kindly posted
regarding Haro's Heros. These cubes are definitely related to meteorites,
more than many will probably even know.

But first: Martin foreshadowed:
"(are sugar-cubes in USA metric?)"

No, they are not, unless you measure them with a centimeter ruler :-) In
the US they are actually certified scale cubes. They are loosely 1/2 or 1
Tea-spoon amounts of sugar, which scale to one cup of Tea. I don't think
the ones in Europe are a centimeter cubed either, for that matter, are they?
That would be a real diet lite cube being just 0.8 to 1.1 grams... Now a
question for you: German Zuckerw?rfels aren't even cubes, are they? and how
many/what dimensions are in a 500g box that sells for under what $2 ( In the
US sugar cubes are one cent each.)?
http://www.wopping.com/images/product/1483.jpg . Maybe at least Diamant
W?rfelzuckers (which have a pedigree back to Langen)?

About the original scale cube. These were actually first crystallized as "T
Cubes" or Tea Cubes, and they were literally covered in Tea that was
underlied with a saucer. By Victorian times they were the de facto scale
cube of choice in Europe to measure size. The material of construction was,
in fact, sugar. The first application was a non-hazardous fixed aliquot of
sugar for a nice cup of tea. But I am getting ahead of myself...

Sugar was introduced by conquering Moroccans into Europe during the conquest
of Spain in about 800 AD. Christopher Columbus had an steamy affair with
Beatriz in the Canary Islands on the way to discover the Americas and
delayed continuing on the maiden voyage a month so he could romantically
take some of here sugarcane, which he brought to the new world with him to
remember her. (Columbus was a sugar broker in Genoa.)

However, for the first ~1500 years, the process to make sugar didn't lend to
cube-making due to all the sticky and wasted carmel produced in the boiling
kettles as syrup was concentrated.

This all changed when the first prototype modern sugar cubes were reputedly
invented by Edward C. Howard in 1813. Mr. Howard, an inspiration for the
future Edisons of the world, invented the "Howard Vacuum-Pan" - the most
important development in the history of sugar to the present day, from which
he greatly increased his wealth by enforcing the patents. It is actually an
enclosed and sealed metal vat allowing sugar syrup to be produced from plant
extract by driving off the water at only 55 C (Instead ove 100+ C) under
partial vacuum pressures resulting in a more uniform crystalline form easily
set in moulds. This process is still used worldwide (utilizing a staged
modification ca. 1830 invented by a free African-American scientist) and
makes in the necessary syrup for easy and uniform granulations. T-Cube
making requires a uniform granulate that is being dried, mixed with a trace
amount of syrup again, and then pressed. NASA honored the T cubes by
placing the letter "T" on top of every scale cube it produced.

The young Englishman Howard, got into laying these sweet foundations after
Joseph Banks, a well known meteorite collector, gave him three meteorites to
analyze: Sienna (Italy, 1794, LL5), Benares (India, 1798, LL4) and the
recently fallen Wold Cottage (UK, 1795, L6). Banks, a serious collector came
across the Wold Cottage mass being exhibited in London along with written
declarations by witnesses to the fall, and hired Howard in 1800 to see if
these stones that were said to have fallen from the sky were similar, as the
geology of the areas was different. Howard had just invented a potent
explosive and won a medal of honor, and had an aristocratic background, so
Banks thought he was the right young man for the job.

The meteorite got Howard more interested in metal alloys when he studied the
similar metals in them, and uniquely placed him to set the foundations of
producing engineering vats and vessels that culminated with the landmark
Vacuum-Pan http://home.clara.net/mawer/vacuum.jpg and other applications he
developed in his real jobs for the next dozen years (Howard was more a
chemical mercenary than a meteoriticist), and always kept a keen eye open
for better metallic alloys ever since he made a few quid working for the
meteorite collector Banks. Michael Farady was inspired by Howard et. al.'s
analyses and in the 1820's played with these metals, alloys (including
meteorites which he was interested in) and electricity, and then figured out
how to generate electricity around 1831 using a wrapped metal core.

Howard's labor in meteorites was peeked by the analysis of different natural
iron alloys, and in many of them he identified an interesting alloying with
nickel. He really didn't know what to make of this, but he noticed that
there were similar compositions of the metallic components no matter where
the stone or natural metal was found in some cases. So he declared in
public in front of the stoodgy establishment, plainly, that it just fell out
of the sky under unknown circumstances, as was suggested by some of his
sources for the materials. By 1805, these stony and metalline substances
that had fallen on the Earth became known as meteoric stones and shortly
later meteoric irons, thanks to British Howard and French Proust's (also
looking for new metals and alloys) unspecified material from the sky idea.
Later, people got tired of saying meteoric stone and just called it
meteorite for short, forever preserving the initial beliefs of the infamous
debate of 1802-1803 begun by Howard among the London scientific aristocracy.
For this, Howard became a Howardite, after dumped meteorites like a
hot-potato as an avocation, but Prost remained a Frenchman, and Biot got
most of the credit posthumously for something already gaining wide
acceptance when he wrote his adventure story, on L?igle, instead of just a
boring chemical analysis like Howard and others had done before him.

Ref: Howard, E. C., Bournon, J. L. and Williams, J. L. 1802. Experiments
and observations on certain stony and metalline substances, which at
different times are said to have fallen on the Earth; also on various kinds
of native iron. "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London",
Vol. 92, pp. 168-212.

Genesis of Production T-Cubes. It took a while for sugar refineries to
catch up with the more expensive initially patented process used by Howard.
The recent use and technology of sugar beet refining to make sugar
established central Europe's place as an industry. Once such refinery in
present day Moravia, Czech Republic, had somewhat updated theirs was run by
a the Swiss Jakub Rad, from Rhreinfelden, working in Dacice (In German:
Datschitz), right across the border from Austria. In 1841, one year into
his new position as Director after coming from Vienna, Juliana, Jakub's
wife, cut her finger while sawing a loaf of sugar and preparing his lunch
and that of their 16 children. Loaves of sugar were the common ways to
distributed sugar pretty much from the beginning up until then. Irately,
she chased him back to work and sat the managers and Jakub down, waving her
bloody finger. Jakub listened and she received the first box of sugar cubes
by Christmas that same year. A year and a half later the plant was in full
production with a patented press making Tea-cubes. These were the first
officially produced T-Cubes in the history of humanity.

Next, there was the German improvement on Rad's pressing process for
production of cubes. The German industrialist Eugen Langen got into the
business in 1870, and invented a better method for T-cube production and
implemented this in his sugar beet factories and it became even a bigger
hit. The English finally took notice. Henry Tate licensed the Langen
method for making precision T-Cubes and built a refinary on the Thames River
which opened in 1878 to produce precision cubes, the English appropriated
immediately the idea as their own and Tea Cube production was booming.
Tate's company later merged with its principal competitor, Lyle and formed
what still is Europes biggest sugar company and Tea Cube producer - Tate &

Meanwhile, in the USA, as usual, the Germans dominated the technology of
making sugar like they did in Europe..... In 1799 the German William
Havenmeyer started running Mr. Seaman's sugar refinery in New York after
leaving his position in London. However, he was not particularly creative
and failed to see the significance of the T-cubes in a 1799 London while
Wold Cottage was on display - though a meteorical storm was certainly
brewing that would make T-cubes a hit. On the contrary, Havenmeyer and his
successor cronies settled on using cheap negro and immigrant labor and
monopolizing the sugar production by the same textbook that Bill Gates
studied. It wasn't until 1906, that the company he founded, put sugar cubes
into massive production in America in the leading company, which today is
the Domino Food Group (the market leader in sugar in the US for over a

If we assume finely granulated sugar pressed into cubes by Domino Sugar has
a density of 1.0 g/cm3 and they sell 198 in a one pound bag (2.291 g/cube),
that would make a volume of 2.78 cm3 per cube, or 1.32 cm length of a side.
A half inch is 1.27 cm. So it is close, but, 2.291 grams is intended as an
estimate of the half the amount of sugar most people prefer in their tea, as
to use two T-cubes, a.k.a., close to a teaspoon of sugar. Domino also makes
another bigger T-cube, close to twice as heavy at 4.725 grams each. This is
close to the one teaspoon cube and preferred sweetening amount, but doesn't
allow for those with a lesser sweet tooth..

The other US company C&H and Dixie Crystals cubes there are 126 in a one
pound box = 3.6 grams each. (_at_ 1.0 g/mL that's 1.53 cm on a side). These
dimensions are estimates based on the density I am using, but I would be
surprised if the length of the side were off more than 1 millimeter (7%).

Finally, here's a couple of pictures of modern Tea-cube producing machines:

Finally, any, dealers in meteorites after reading this, when illustrating
their Howardites, could certainly could sweeten the deal by including these
cubes with purchases. A Tea-cube is a must when scaling any Howardite, lest
we should forget the man's real passion. And it is true that a T-cube was
the most common scale reference right up to the Russian and NASA

W?rfelly yours,

----- Original Message -----
From: "Martin Altmann" <altmann at meteorite-martin.de>
To: <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2007 6:39 AM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Scalecube Family


the Scherff-cube is missing in your collection,
was the most used meteorite-cube before the Buhl-cube.
(Got blue edges with time).


(are sugar-cubes in USA metric?)

-----Urspr?ngliche Nachricht-----
Von: meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com
[mailto:meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com] Im Auftrag von Mike
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 8. November 2007 02:17
An: 'Meteorite List'
Betreff: [meteorite-list] Scalecube Family

On June 21, 2007 Paul wrote:

"I have to wonder if ten years from now, there will be people collecting the
different types of scalecubes/centimeter cubes as people on this list are
collecting meteorites."

Ten years? How about five months! My Scalecube family:


>From left to right: Buhl 1cm Cube, Unknown 1cm Cube, NASA 'Scale Block' 1
inch Cube, Drake 1 inch Certified Cube, Drake 1cm Cube, Drake 1cm prototype.

Kudos to Drake D. for building such a great 1 inch cube! Its well worth the
money and perfect for other scientific/forensic photography.

What strange hobbies I have...

Kind regards,

Mike Bandli

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Received on Fri 09 Nov 2007 02:53:48 AM PST

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