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Thermal images of toast by using fax paper

Here we have photographs of toast, but not like ordinary pictures of toast taken with a photographic camera. Indeed, these are toast thermographs which were made by placing slices of hot toast on FAX paper.Toast Traditionally, fax machines and computer printers were designed in such a way that the consumables were very expensive. Obviously it would be far too easy to allow customers to have faxes and printers that just put ink onto paper as this would be too convenient and would not give the makers of the machines the opportunity to make money selling expensive commodities. Early 21st Century Fax printers are often designed to use expensive carbon ribbon, ink cartridges, or other fancy technology requiring dependency upon supply of special manufacturer-specific stuff, but the late 20th Century Fax had a simpler solution to making the machine cost money to run. It used special "fax paper" which, though not as expensive as later refined expense-enhanced processes, still made the whole faxing business a seemingly prestigious affair. Fax paper worked by a thermal process and was special stuff quite different to normal 80g office treeware. By clever chemical processes the paper would change from white to black if heated. The print head would selectively heat the parts of the white paper which were to be turned black to give the effect of black ink on white paper. However, one of the side-effects of this, an extra usefulness unforeseen by the designers of 20th Century Fax machines, was the fact that the thermal fax paper could be used for various diverse processes including such things as the creation of toast-o-graphs, tea kettle profiling, and soldering iron calligraphy. A whole realm of do-it-yourself science and fun was opened up, as if Prometheus had bestowed upon Toastus a new revelation in the form of office equipment. It soon becomes apparent that hot toast looks quite different when viewed thermographically. Notice how the black areas on these images have regions of heat in contrast to the white areas which are of lower temperature. These, like infra-red astrophotography shows a sky of thermally interesting galactic stuff quite different to that seen in the optical spectrum, show effects going on within hot toast which are interesting even before considering the alleged mysterious antigravitational anomalies associated with toast in a state of free-fall and the hypothetical probabilities of it landing butter side up or butter side down.

This kind of thing is not exclusive to fax paper. Supermarket till receipts at some point went thermal. Presumably the old style print/ink/paper receipts were had too much longevity, so to prevent supermarket till receipt collectors from amassing historic records of bargain purchases, supermarkets decided to print the new receipts on thermal paper. These soon fade, helping to hide interesting archaeological shopping evidence from future museum curators, but in this cunning plan the designers have failed to notice the extra uses of thermal till receipts as heat-sensitive imaging paper.

ToastNow there are those who might say that I am being somewhat paranoid or cynical about notions of technology being deliberately designed to be awkward and the idea that usefulness of scientific discovery are serendipitous and that progress is accidental, but if you look at some computer operating systems you may see that I have a point! In particular, it has been suggested than no-one would seriously design an operating system such as Microsoft Windows unless the idea was to make life as awkward as possible and to confound any idea of commonsense. Also see Considerate Design

Of course you don't have to agree with any of these sentiments, and it just may be that some of this is not entirely serious. This page was written with the purpose of inspiring interesting thought and discussion, as well as to show the strange effects of thermal imaging of hot toast using fax paper.

By the way, the mention of 20th Century Fax is an obvious gratuitous jocular poetic reference which has a word association connecting to 20th Century Fox