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Augers

W. J. Rayment / -- An auger is a tool used to move material or fluids from one place to another. It generally takes the form of a spiral shape around a shaft. When it is rotated, it moves material along the spiral.

The spiral shape is quite useful. If fitted inside a cylinder it can move bulk materials such as agricultural products. It can even be found on a snow blower, which has two augers to feed the snow towards the center where it is blown clear. The auger is most commonly seen as it is incorporated in the drill. Drills use the auger effect to move wood, metal, dirt et cetera out of a hole made by the sharp head.

The word "auger" is commonly confused with "augur". An augur is a seer or person who looks into the future, and the verb to auger means to predict the future. The words have completely different roots. "Auger" comes from Middle English "nauger" through Old English "nafogar" which meant "nave drill". But "augur" comes from combining the Latin words for bird (avis) and to talk (garrire). It is difficult then to equate the two. However, some neat word play might be made from it. For example, "It would take an augur to drill to the bottom of the works of Nostradamus!"

Augers (and augurs) have been around since ancient times. Archimedes is said to have invented one in the 200's BC. It was called a water-screw and it was used to move water from lower to higher levels in places where we would use pumps today.

Another "Auger" has found its way into modern technology. Pierre Victor Auger (1899-1993) was a French physicist who did considerable work on air showers or what we would call cosmic rays. He also discovered a process (at about the same time as Lise Meitner) that creates a double-charged ion by bombardment with an electron beam. The process allows spectroscopes to probe the chemistry of a surface. However, in referring to Pierre Auger, we must remember that he was a Frenchman, so his name takes on a Gallic pronunciation (Awzhay).


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