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CRANK

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 375 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CRANK, a word of somewhat obscure etymology, probably connected with a root meaning " crooked," and appearing in the Ger. krank, ill, a figurative use of the original word; among other words in English containing the same original meaning are " cringe " and " crinkle." In mechanics, a crank is a device by which reciprocating motion is converted into circular motion or vice versa, consisting of a crank-arm, one end of which is fastened rigidly at right angles to the rotating shaft or axis, while the other end bears a crank-pin, projecting from it at right angles and parallel to the shaft. When the reciprocating part of a machine, as the piston and piston-rod of a FIG. 8.—The facial angle of the Frankfort Agreement is shown in the crania of :—A, a New steam engine, is linked to this Guinea native (male) 75°; B, a European (woman) 930; C, a new-born infant (93°). crank by a crank-rod or connecting to a system devised in 1859 by Karl E. actually a return von Baer. The fourth subdivision of craniometry is closely allied to that which has just been described, and it deals with the comparison of the prehistoric and the recent types of mankind. The methods are exactly similar to those employed in the comparison of living races; but in some particular instances where the pre-historic individual is represented only by a comparatively minute portion of the skull, some special modifications of the usual procedures have been necessitated. In this field the works of W. His and L. Rutimeyer on the prehistoric races of Switzerland, those of Ecker (South Germany), of Broca in France, of Thurnam and Davis in England, must be cited. G. Schwalbe, Kramberger, angle of Camper (cf. fig. I). W. J. Sollas and H. Klaatsch are the most recent contributors to this department of craniometry. Thus the complexity of craniometric studies has inevitably increased. In the hands of von Torok of Budapest, as in those of M. Benedikt of Vienna at an earlier date, the number of measurements regarded as necessary for the complete " diagnosis " of a skull has reached a colossal total. Of the trend and progress of craniometry at the present day, three particular developments are noteworthy. First come the attempts made at various times to co-ordinate the systems of measurements so as to ensure uniformity among all observers; of these attempts two, viz. that of the German anthropologists at Frankfort in 1882 (figs. 7 and 8), and that of the Anthropometric Committee of the British Association (1906) seem to require at least a record. In the second place, the application of the methods of statistical science in dealing with large numbers of craniometric data has been richly rewarded in Prof. Karl Pearson's hands. Thirdly, and in connexion with such methods, there may be mentioned the extension of these systems of measurement, and of the methods of dealing with them on statistical principles, to the study of large numbers of the skulls of domestic and feral animals, such as white rats or the varieties of the horse. And lastly no account of craniometry would be complete without mention of the revolt, headed by the Italian anthropologist Sergi, against metrical methods of all kinds. It cannot, however, be alleged that the substitutes offered by the adherents of Sergi's principles encourage others to forsake the more orthodox numerical methods. Crank is also the name given to a labour machine used in prisons as a means of punishment (see TREAD-MILL). Other uses of the word, connected with the primary meaning, are for a crooked path, a crevice or chink; and a freakish turn of thought or speech, as in Milton's phrase " quips and cranks." It is also used as a slang expression, American in origin, for a harmless lunatic, or a faddist, whose enthusiasm for some one idea or hobby becomes a monomania. " Crank " or " crank-sided " is a nautical term used of a ship which by reason of her build or from want of balance is liable to overturn. This strictly nautical sense is often confused with " crank " or " cranky," that is, rickety or shaky, probably derived direct from the German krank, weak or ill.
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