Out of luck in the OutbackBy:
Donald Simanek Emeritus Professor of Physics, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
A Colorado outdoorsman vacationing in Australia wished to explore the outback on foot. He packed his gear, which included a fine magnetic compass passed down to him from his great-great-grandfather, who had been an explorer of the American West. The compass was an expensive one, made by the prestigious Tait Instrument Company of Philadelphia.
While hiking in the outback, he found that his compass wasn't functioning well at all. Its needle was sluggish, dragging on the base of the compass, so he was unwilling to trust it. Thanks to some helpful and savvy Aborigines, who never used compasses, he found his way back to civilization. He related his sad story to his Australian friends. They examined his compass and saw the finely engraved lettering "Tait's Compass" on the case. "We've seen this before when you blokes from the states bring along one of these old compasses. We have a saying 'He who has a Tait's is lost.'"