In our business, we use the word “sieve” to describe a piece of equipment that separates desired elements from unwanted material using a woven wire screen or mesh net. To others, “sieve” can mean something very different.
Sieves – the screen or mesh kind – work by separating some particles from the others in their sample based on their size. Particles smaller than the holes in the mesh will be allowed through, while bigger particles will be caught in the net.
In the computer programming world, “sieve” is a programming language used to create email filters. You could say its operation is based on the same concept as our sieves, separating certain emails from the entire batch, though not necessarily by the size of the email.
The sports arena uses “sieve” to describe a goalie that causes his team to lose the game by allowing many goals to be scored by an opposing team. Here, the goalie is like the wire mesh in a sieve. He should be keeping some particles – or balls – in this case, from getting through, but in reality, the balls are slipping through the holes.
Mathematicians use sieves for a rather different purpose than the one we’re used to. To them, a “sieve” can be used to find prime numbers. Take the Sieve of Eratosthenes, which has to be the coolest name for a sieve I think I’ve ever heard. This sieve was named after Eratosthenes of Cyrene, a Greek mathematician in ancient times, and is known as one of the most efficient ways to find small primes (any prime number less than 1000). Like the mesh sieves that we use, this type of sieve is used to separate some numbers (in this case, small primes) from others based on certain criteria.
We think it would be special if our particle sizing sieves acted more like the computer programming or mathematic version of the word – not the sports definition. That’s why we offer sieves that are manufactured to ASTM standards, and calibration beads to test their accuracy.
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