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Found File

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Apropo of nothing; something I found while sorting out old discs from 1998:

This is for people who have a hard time understanding engineering:

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet
8.5 inches. That is an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in
England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English build them that way? Because the first rail lines
were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and
that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge? Because the people who built the tramways
used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which
used that wheel spacing.

So why did the wagons have that particular odd spacing? Well, if they
tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of
the old, long distance roads in England, because that was the spacing of
the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in
Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The
roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads? The ruts in the roads, which everyone had to
match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels, were first formed by
Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial
Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The US standard railroad gauge of 4 feet 8.5 inches derives from the
original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications
and bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's
backside came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial
Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back
ends of two war horses.

Thus we have the answer to the original question. Now for the twist to
the story. When we see a space shuttle sitting on it's launching pad,
there are two booster rockets attached to the side of the main fuel
tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRB's. The SRB's are made by
Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRB's
might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB's had to be
shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the
mountains. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the
railroad track is about as wide as two horses' rumps.

So, a major design feature of what is arguably the worlds most advanced
transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the
width of a horse's backside!

Don't you just love engineering?

Popular Google Searched Post

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For some reason, this post happens to be the post that gets the most hits from Google. Weird. Especially since I deleted the image a while ago and until today, never uploaded it back onto my blog.
Mustang Bobby has his usual question of the day, which happens to be up my alley:

What films from the current era (including the last twenty-five years or so) would you add to the list?

Here are my answers.

  • Raiders Of The Lost Ark
  • Rain Man
  • Unforgiven (Eastwood's movie)
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Usual Suspects
  • The Bourne Movies (all three together make the Bond movies look childish and amateurish)
  • Sneakers (like wine, it gets better with age and also, considering today's warrantless wiretapping in the computer age, very prophetic)
  • The Sixth Sense
  • The Matrix
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Body Heat
  • The Fugitive
  • Spider Man (and also Spider Man 2)

I have more, but they start to fade from the all time classic plateau into great movie range.

This is one hell of a good commencement speech.

Typing Part Deux

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Okay, Karlo over at Swerve Left thinks I shouldn't type unless I can get over 60 wpm. Well, here you go Karlo, my right to type:
 63 words

Speed test


Free Classic eBooks

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Get your free eBooks here.

The Eyes Have It!

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Politics is the control of wealth and power. You are being conditioned to condemn politics as petty and boring, thus granting all the more control to the powers that be. You are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution. The choice is yours.


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