On 13-Jun-09, at 7:12 AM, Simon Norton wrote:
> Incidentally, what would be the feasibility of equipping cars with
> folding or sliding doors so that they don't need to intrude on space
> they aren't actually occupying (well, only a little space in the
> case of folding doors when they open outwards) ?
Did you ever notice that, when there's a safety issue with a piece of
technology, the tendency is to redesign the technology rather than
educate the people?
For example, in the early to mid 20th Century, electrical circuits in
households were generally protected by fuses; in some old houses,
these fuse panels are even still in use and fuses for them are still
readily available. Most households could handle a maximum continuous
load, all circuits, of 60 amps. However, starting in the 1950s, we
began to see more and more electrical devices come onto the market.
By the 1970s, that 60 amp service was often not enough to drive all
the devices a given homeowner had; blown fuses became common.
Now people, not understanding the purpose of fuses, would get around
that by overfusing circuits, upping a 15 amp fuse to, say, a 30 amp
fuse or, worse, bypassing fusing altogether by putting a penny into
the socket. OK, that keeps the fuse from blowing but now there's
nothing to keep the load on that circuit from exceeding the capacity
of the wiring. Junctions heat up; you get electrical fires.
Obviously, people needed to be educated about the importance of using
the proper fuse for the load capacity of a given circuit; a simple idea.
Did we educate people? No. Instead, we made the transition to
CIRCUIT BREAKERS. Circuit breakers are idiot-proof. They can't be
removed so, if a breaker is designed for 15 amps, that's the end of
the story; you're NOT getting that circuit to stay on if you try to
load it with more than 15 amps, period. That, plus an increase of
standard household amperage from 60 to 100 amps to accommodate the
increasing number of electrical devices in homes, cut down the problem
Now, mind you, circuit breakers DO have OTHER advantages, not the
least of which that you don't need to buy a replacement every time you
overload the circuit; you just flip it back on. Still, that does say
a lot about how we handle educating the general public about safety.
It's not that fuse panels are inherently dangerous; they're not.
That's why you're allowed to KEEP them if your house happens to have
one. Fuse panels are only unusually dangerous when MISused, just as
cycling is only unusually dangerous when done improperly.
John A. Ardelli