The flux capacitor was a great invention. It was make believe, but still a great invention.
It was, of course, the device that allowed the DeLorean time machine to do its thing, sending Marty McFly [played by Michael J. Fox] back to 1955 in Back to the Future.
The flux capacitor came to mind when we heard about an invention called the Reflux Classifier.
The flux capacitor and Reflux Classifier sound alike, but they are a lot different. For a start, the Reflux Classifier is real.
University of Newcastle Laureate Professor Kelvin Galvin invented it quite a while ago, although not as far back as 1955.
The invention has saved the global mining and minerals processing industry billions.
It's a complicated thing for us mere mortals to understand. The simple description is that it separates fine particles on the basis of density or size.
Apparently it involves something called "gravity separation", which does make us wonder whether time travel is involved.
Professor Galvin said his discovery involved a light-bulb moment that followed "a period of research on two different topics".
"In earlier years, I had observed the amazing phenomenon of 'inclined settling' during a visit to a laboratory in Houston, Texas, where they were interested in developing new ways to drill for oil," he said.
"I knew immediately the concept for the Reflux Classifier would work, but I had no idea it would consume the next 20 years of my life. It's now a firmly established technology used all over the world."
And, we hasten to add, across time.
Professor Galvin added that minerals processing "needs bright young minds" to help transform the sector.
"The sustainability of the Australian industry hinges on reducing the energy and water footprint, which is essential in working towards a zero emissions target," he said.
As such, the next generation must lead the industry towards renewables to ensure we don't face "another inconvenient truth".
We ran a story last Friday about kookaburras making their home in a big termite nest in a eucalyptus tree at Lakelands.
A Valentine reader noticed the same thing in his yard immediately before reading the story. "Talk about a spin out, I've just been down the back and noticed a big termites nest that kookaburras have been getting into," he said.
Carl Jung would have a field day with this. Jung, a famous Swiss psychologist, described synchronicity as events outside of cause and effect. He believed such events were "meaningful coincidences".
This was part of his concept of the collective unconscious - a force or "governing dynamic" that underpins human experience.
Scientists usually attribute coincidences to probability, even if they're improbable.