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Thread: It's Funny How Things Come Into Being

  1. #1

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    It's Funny How Things Come Into Being
    Interesting how a single decision reverberates through the ages:

    Railroad tracks: The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That is an exceptionally odd number.

    Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the U.S. 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 then? Because the people that 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's 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 U.S. standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches drives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

    Specifications and bureaucracies live forever

    Now, here’s a new twist to the story … When we see a space shuttle sitting on its launching pad, there are two booster rockets attached to the side of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.

    The SRBs are made by Thiokol, at their factory in Utah. The engineers, who designed the SRBs, might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs 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.

    So, the 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.

    Don't you just love engineering?
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    Isn't it awesome how all the things of this world tie together in one cohesive unit? I think stories like that are just amazing! Thanks Tamlin!

    SF

  3. #3
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    I'd say, the width of the solid rocket booster was determined by the Imperial war chariot as well, not the width of two horses...since the width of the tunnel was determined by the width of the railroad track which was determined by the width of the war chariot. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img] No?? [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif[/img]
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    That depends, PAK. Was the width of the chariot based on the average width of two horses? Then you could say the tunnel was based on the width of two horses truthfully.

    SF

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    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    Yeah...I just realized that. I guess when I think "chariot", I think of one horse pulling it. I can't remember if it was one or two. (Need to see "Ben Hur" again!). Still, I'd think the chariot's wheel base would be wider than the horses for more stability. But that's splitting hairs. lol [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img]

    Its a cool tale anyhow you look at it. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    scottychaos's Avatar
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    There is (or was) a very cool series on PBS all about this concept!
    its called "connections"
    the author/host of the show, James Burke, takes all kinds of seemingly minor events in history, and follows the chain of events that minor event set in motion, to come up with amazing results and "connections" between people and events..
    I dont know if the shows are still playing anywhere..you can probably buy them..
    here are a few links about it..

    http://smithsonianassociates.org/pro...urke/burke.asp

    http://jam.canoe.ca/TelevisionShowsC/connections3.html

    Scot

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    scottychaos's Avatar
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    If you have realplayer, and a high-speed connection,
    click on the video demo at the bottom of this page..

    http://www.k-web.org/details/index.html

  8. #8

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    ROFL, that is great.
    There is no item greater in value than life, for without life value would cease to exist.
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