TED设计:Caroline Weaver: Why the pencil is perfect

The sound is a really big part, I think,of the experience of using a pencil,and it has this reallyaudible scratchiness.


[Small thing. Big idea.]

[Caroline Weaver onthe Pencil]

The pencil is a very simple object.It's made of woodwith some layers of paintan eraser and a core,which is made out of graphite,clay and water.Yeah, it took hundredsof people over centuriesto come to this design.And it's that long historyof collaborationthat, to me, makes ita very perfect object.

The story of the pencilstarts with graphite.People started findingreally useful applicationsfor this new substance.They cut it into small sticksand wrapped it in stringor sheepskin or paperand sold it on the streets of Londonto be used for writing or for drawingor, a lot of times,by farmers and shepherds,who used it to mark their animals.Over in France,Nicolas-Jacques Conté figured out a methodof grinding the graphite,mixing it with powdered clayand water to make a paste.From there, this paste was filledinto a mold and fired in a kiln,and the result wasa really strong graphite corethat wasn't breakable,that was smooth, usable —it was so much better than anything elsethat existed at the time,and to this day, that's the methodthat's still used in making pencils.

Meanwhile, over in America,in Concord, Massachusetts,it was Henry David Thoreauwho came up with the grading scalefor different hardnesses of pencil.It was graded one through four,number two being the idealhardness for general use.The softer the pencil,the more graphite it had in it,and the darker and smootherthe line will be.The firmer the pencil,the more clay it had in itand the lighter and finer it will be.

Originally, when pencils were handmade,they were made round.There was no easy way to make them,and it was the Americanswho really mechanized the craft.A lot of people credit Joseph Dixonfor being one of the first peopleto start developing actual machinesto do things like cut wood slats,cut grooves into the wood,apply glue to them ...And they figured outit was easier and less wastefulto do a hexagonal pencil,and so that became the standard.

Since the early days of pencils,people have loved that they can be erased.Originally, it was bread crumbsthat were usedto scratch away pencil marksand later, rubber and pumice.The attached eraser happened in 1858,when American stationerHymen Lipman patented the first pencilwith an attached eraser,which really changed the pencil game.The world's first yellow pencilwas the KOH-I-NOOR 1500.KOH-I-NOOR did this crazy thingwhere they painted this pencilwith 14 coats of yellow paintand dipped the end in 14-carat gold.

There is a pencil for everyone,and every pencil has a story.The Blackwing 602 is famousfor being used by a lot of writers,especially John Steinbeckand Vladimir Nabokov.And then, you havethe Dixon pencil company.They're responsiblefor the Dixon Ticonderoga.It's an icon,it's what people think ofwhen they think of a penciland what they think ofwhen they think of school.And the pencil's reallya thing that, I think,the average userhas never thought twice about,how it's made or why it's madethe way it is,because it's just always been that way.

In my opinion, there's nothingthat can be doneto make the pencil better than it is.It's perfect.

来自:VOA英语网 文章地址: http://www.tingvoa.com/html/20180810/Caroline-Weaver-Why-the-pencil-is-perfect.html