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RE: [hackers-il] On the persistance of standards (was: Fwd: engin eering)

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  • Chen Shapira
    What I would *love* to see is any evidence confirming this story. I suspect it to be an wide spread urban legend. ... http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
    Message 1 of 1 , May 6, 2001
      What I would *love* to see is any evidence confirming this story.
      I suspect it to be an wide spread urban legend.

      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Adi Stav [mailto:stav@...]
      > Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2001 6:21 PM
      > To: hackers-il@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [hackers-il] On the persistance of standards (was: Fwd:
      > engineering)
      > I've just received this one on the Larry Niven mailing list
      > <larryniven-l@...>. It's nice to see that QWERTY is not the
      > only example of the persistance of broken specs... Any other ones?
      > > The U.S. 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
      > > 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? 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 U.S. 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 end 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 world's most
      > > advanced transportation system was determined over two
      > thousand years
      > > ago by the width of a horse's ass!
      > >
      > > Don't you just love engineering?
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