Monday, 27th October 2014
Horse rump and the development of
techniques (and civilization)
While I was
recently browsing the archive of publications – during the
preparation of the comment to report on CAx for the bimonthly
"Steel. Metals & New Technologies" magazine – I've found an
excellent text made by prof. Miroslaw Dakowski, that I
published in one of the editions of the "Design and
Construction ...". I thought that I can present it to you on
the pages of that blog...
Before you start reading, let's
see if the statement: "We always do it that way" does not
raise any doubts in you? Well, let's hear the story.
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is
4 feet, 8.5 inches *. That's an odd number? And do you know
why was that gauge used?
Because that's the way they built the railroads in England,
and English expatriates built the US railroads. 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 there just applied
this standard. But why use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs
and tools that they used for building train wagons, which used
that wheel spacing. Alright! Why did the wagons have that
particular odd wheel spacing?
Ok, and here is the first point:
what were the first trams?
But let's move on ...
If the builders tried to use any
other spacing, racked by 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) built
the Roman Empire for their legions. But how do these ruts?
Primary ruts where formed by Roman war chariots; any other
users of these roads have to adapt to them, because otherwise
they could destroy their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were
made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike, when it comes
to track. US standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is...
simply... derived from the technical parameters of the
Imperial Roman war chariot.
And because the bureaucracy is
eternal... when you get you are handed a specification and
begin to suspect that it may have something to do with the
horse's rump :D, you will have absolutely right, because Roman
war chariots were constructed so, that their width was
adjusted to the total width of two war horses hindquarters :D.
And how it make influence on for
ex., space technology?
When we look at the space shuttle on its launch pad, we see
two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel
tank. These are solid rocket, in short: SRB, produced at
Thiokol (Utah, USA).
the picture above you can see the space shuttle launch pad.
Unfortunatelly from this perspective, it is
difficult to spot therockets mentioned in the text. When the
shuttle is on the platform, from here
you can only see the external fuel tank,
but on the model (pictured below)...
... they are
perfectly visible. And who could even thought that their
design was influenced by Roman chariots and horses ...;)
who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit
fatter, but there was a small problem. SRBs could be delivered
from factury only on the railroads. But the railway line is in
a section of the tunnel in the mountains, so the rockets need
to fit in the tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the
railroad track, and the line is, as you already know is ...
the width of two horses' hindquarters :D.
So one of the
major Space Shuttle design details, perhaps still the most
modern transport system in the world, was determined over two
thousand years ago ... the width of the horse's ass.
Who knows what
would have taken the fate of the world if, for ex., the
elephant was the most popular beast of burden?
On the basis of:
Please, see also here:
Here you can find all about it more seriously :)
And for sure... I used Google translator, but I've made some
changes by myself. Hope it is ok :)
* Locomotives were being
developed in the first decades of the nineteenth century; they
took various forms, but George Stephenson developed a
successful locomotive on the Killingworth Wagonway, where he
worked. His designs were so successful that they became the
standard, and when the Stockton and Darlington Railway was
opened in 1825 it used his locomotives, with the same gauge as
the Killingworth line, 4 ft 8 in (1,422 mm).
The Stockton and Darlington line was immensely successful, and
when the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the first intercity
line, was promoted (it opened in 1830), it used the same gauge.
It was also hugely successful, and the gauge (now eased to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in
(1,435 mm)), became the automatic choice: "standard gauge".
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