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02 Oct

On, King! On, you huskies!

Posted by Mark Harris on

Hopefully, there are still a few people in the audience that remember that line, indicating that Sergeant Preston of the Yukon was beginning another episode.  Sergeant Preston was aided by his horse Rex and his faithful dog Yukon King.  Rex was okay – I mean, he was no Silver (the Lone Ranger’s horse), but Yukon King was the man.  Dog.  Whatever.  Yukon King could out-think Lassie with one leg tied behind his tail.  Yukon King wouldn’t come and tell you that Timmy fell in a well, Yukon King would prevent Timmy from falling in the well in the first place, expose the corrupt well builder’s plan to close the orphanage, cover the well by dragging something heavy a great distance and kill a wolverine for good measure.

"Wait – say what, now?"

The good Sergeant and Yukon King.

My admiration of Yukon King’s intelligence and bravery played no small part in my ill-fated decision to adopt a stray husky puppy (briefly).  MY husky, Monty, turned out to be a wolf/husky hybrid, and was, to use a veterinary medicine term, bat shit crazy.  Monty is now tormenting another family in Romeoville, and my wife and I are still married.  And it turns out that Yukon King was a malamute, anyway – not a husky.

So, I’m digging through youtube over the weekend, trying to relive my youth via television shows from my childhood, and I’m watching Sergeant Preston and he’s in yet another snowstorm.  It’s freezing cold because it’s the Yukon.  Someone with a French accent had done something nefarious in some mine and was now holed up in one of the many abandoned cabins apparently scattered throughout the Yukon for the use of criminals on the run, as that’s where the criminals almost always ended up on that program.

“C’mon, what's he paying you?  I’ll double it, we’ll kill Sergeant Preston and hide out in the cabin next door…”

Sergeant Preston, alerted to the presence of the criminal by Yukon King, reaches into his saddlebag, and pulls out one of those collapsible telescope things, like you see pirates using.  He takes a good long look at the cabin, and then tucks it into his Royal Canadian Mounted Police jacket, and the Sergeant, Rex and Yukon King jockey for a better view of the cabin.  He pulls the telescope out of his jacket again, extends it and takes another look, and the view is clear as a bell.  I know this because there was a black screen with a circle in the center indicating his view, and it was flawless.

And suddenly I was no longer wondering about what I was going to write about in this week’s post.  It would be… nitrogen purging and anti-fog coatings.

Well, there you have it – a glimpse into the fascinating scientific process by which I select topics for this blog.

Why nitrogen purging and anti-fog coatings?  That telescope had been bouncing around in the saddlebag for at least the 20 minutes I had been watching the Sergeant, Rex and King traipsing through the freezing temperatures and blowing snow.  The telescope isn’t sealed, it's collapsible.  The telescope was cold.  Inside that jacket?  It has to be warm and moist.  THOSE LENSES WOULD HAVE FOGGED OVER.  That means you guys are actors, that’s a set and it’s not even really cold and – you’ve ruined it for adult me.  A lot of things got by young me, but I'm on to your trickery now.

Ever get out of your air-conditioned car into a warmer, moist environment while wearing your hip shades?  The shades fog up.  Here’s another example, although it probably won’t be familiar to many people: Ever had a cold beer outdoors on a humid summer day?  Yeah, I didn’t think so, but what happens is that the warm, moist air condenses on the cold can or bottle.  I didn’t believe it myself, so I tried it.  The rumors are true – condensation.

King, Sergeant Preston and his crappy telescope during the two days of summer in the Yukon.

Almost every binocular in this modern age is purged, meaning that a gas with no moisture – nitrogen or argon, most commonly – replaces the air inside the sealed binocular.  No moisture, no condensation.  That’s relatively easy to accomplish on the inside of the binocular.  The more difficult problem is on the outside, where things happen – things like rain, fog and snow.

Bushnell has an excellent anti-fog feature called RainGuard.  In Bushnell’s own words:

RainGuard HD is a patented, permanent, hydrophobic, oleophobic lens coating that causes moisture from rain, snow, sleet and your breath to instantly bead-up into smaller droplets and scatter. These tiny droplets divert dramatically less light and keep your view bright and clear when an untreated lens would be rendered useless.

Bushnell uses words that actually exist in chemistry, unlike Bertrillium-Zantitium (you know who you are were).  Hydrophobicity is the physical property of a molecule (known as a hydrophobe) that is seemingly repelled from a mass of water, very much like every cat I have owned, with the exception of Lucky, who liked to sit in a bathtub filled with water.

Oleophobic is the fear of margarine and butter substitutes.  No, just kidding – oleophobic refers to the physical property of a molecule that is repelled from oil.  Fingerprints and oily contaminants in rain and fog are repelled from the lens surface.

Fear not.

Our most highly rated Bushnell binocular with RainGuard is the Legend Ultra HD 10×42 with RainGuard, available in basic black for formal occasions, and RealTree camouflage if you’d like to blend in.

Bushnell provides a carrying case, a microfiber cloth, neoprene strap, objective lens covers and a one-piece eyepiece cover.

In closing, a bit of history – In what could be a rare example of Your Tax Dollars At Work, anti-fog agents were apparently developed by NASA for use on helmet visors, if you can believe Wikipedia.  Although I have a couple of problems with this statement:

“Anti-fog agents were initially developed by NASA during the Project Gemini, for use on helmet visors. During Gemini 9A, in June 1966, Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan tested NASA's first space suit, and discovered during the spacewalk that his helmet visor fogged, among other issues.”

Okay, if that was “NASA’s first space suit” was tested during the Gemini project, what were the original 7 Mercury astronauts wearing years earlier?

“Dammit, Glenn, what’s with you and Slayton and the white boots already? And Schirra – GET BACK IN LINE!  Shepard is going first, and I don’t want to hear any more about it!  And can we PLEASE get a box for Grissom to stand on?”

Those sure look like spacesuits to me. And if the author meant “first spacewalk”, that’s not right, either.  That wasn’t Eugene Cernan, it was Ed White Jr., on June 3rd, 1965.    Cernan took his stroll a year later in June, 1966.

You could say that – I see right through that anti-fog story…

I tried not to say that.  I really tried.

Mark H.







Mark, who feels uncomfortable referring to himself in the third person, was taught to shoot at age 5 by his father. Mark grew up, or at least increased in age, in east central Indiana. After realizing that he was not going to become an astronaut, he attended design school and spent 25 years in commercial printing before a trip to the emergency room convinced him to abandon this folly. The online purchase of a holster led Mark to OpticsPlanet where he is happier than any person has a right to be, except that his wife refuses to let him buy a dog or a motorcycle. She is, however, pretty darn cute, according to Mark.

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