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Re: advanced engineering



  > >  Here is a look into the corporate mind that is very
  interesting,
  > >  educational, historical, completely true, and hysterical
  all at the
  > >  same time:
  > >
  > >  The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two
  rails) is 4
  > >  feet, 8.5 inches. That's 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 like that? 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 who
  built the
  > >  tramways used the same jigs and tools that  they used for
  building
  > >  wagons which used that wheel spacing.
  > >
  > >  Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel
  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?  Roman
  > >  war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which everyone
  else had to
  > >  match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the
  chariots
  > >  were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike
  in the matter
  > >  of wheel spacing. The United States 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 ass 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 the twist to the story..............
  > >
  > >  There's an interesting extension to the story about
  railroad gauges
  > >  and horses' behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting
  on its launch
  > >  pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the
  sides 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 SRBs had to fit through  that  tunnel. The
  tunnel is
  > >  slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad
  track is
  > >  about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, the major design
  feature of
  > >  what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation
  system was
  > >  determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a
  Horse's Ass!
  >>
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