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  • Translator: Krystian Aparta Reviewer: Camille Martínez

  • The sound is a really big part, I think, of the experience of using a pencil,

  • and it has this really audible scratchiness.

  • (Scratching)

  • [Small thing. Big idea.]

  • [Caroline Weaver on the Pencil]

  • The pencil is a very simple object.

  • It's made of wood with some layers of paint

  • an eraser and a core,

  • which is made out of graphite, clay and water.

  • Yeah, it took hundreds of people over centuries

  • to come to this design.

  • And it's that long history of collaboration

  • that, to me, makes it a very perfect object.

  • The story of the pencil starts with graphite.

  • People started finding really useful applications

  • for this new substance.

  • They cut it into small sticks

  • and wrapped it in string or sheepskin or paper

  • and sold it on the streets of London

  • to be used for writing or for drawing

  • or, a lot of times, by farmers and shepherds,

  • who used it to mark their animals.

  • Over in France,

  • Nicolas-Jacques Conté figured out a method of grinding the graphite,

  • mixing it with powdered clay and water to make a paste.

  • From there, this paste was filled into a mold and fired in a kiln,

  • and the result was a really strong graphite core

  • that wasn't breakable, that was smooth, usable --

  • it was so much better than anything else that existed at the time,

  • and to this day, that's the method that's still used in making pencils.

  • Meanwhile, over in America, in Concord, Massachusetts,

  • it was Henry David Thoreau who came up with the grading scale

  • for different hardnesses of pencil.

  • It was graded one through four,

  • number two being the ideal hardness for general use.

  • The softer the pencil, the more graphite it had in it,

  • and the darker and smoother the line will be.

  • The firmer the pencil, the more clay it had in it

  • and 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 Americans who really mechanized the craft.

  • A lot of people credit Joseph Dixon

  • for being one of the first people to start developing actual machines

  • to do things like cut wood slats, cut grooves into the wood,

  • apply glue to them ...

  • And they figured out it was easier and less wasteful

  • to 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 crumbs

  • that were used to scratch away pencil marks

  • and later, rubber and pumice.

  • The attached eraser happened in 1858,

  • when American stationer Hymen Lipman patented the first pencil

  • with an attached eraser,

  • which really changed the pencil game.

  • The world's first yellow pencil was the KOH-I-NOOR 1500.

  • KOH-I-NOOR did this crazy thing

  • where they painted this pencil with 14 coats of yellow paint

  • and dipped the end in 14-carat gold.

  • There is a pencil for everyone,

  • and every pencil has a story.

  • The Blackwing 602 is famous for being used by a lot of writers,

  • especially John Steinbeck and Vladimir Nabokov.

  • And then, you have the Dixon pencil company.

  • They're responsible for the Dixon Ticonderoga.

  • It's an icon,

  • it's what people think of when they think of a pencil

  • and what they think of when they think of school.

  • And the pencil's really a thing that, I think,

  • the average user has never thought twice about,

  • how it's made or why it's made the way it is,

  • because it's just always been that way.

  • In my opinion, there's nothing that can be done

  • to make the pencil better than it is.

  • It's perfect.

Translator: Krystian Aparta Reviewer: Camille Martínez

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B1 US TED pencil graphite dixon eraser clay

【TED】Caroline Weaver: Why the pencil is perfect (Why the pencil is perfect | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/11/03
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