RE: [hackers-il] On the persistance of standards (was: Fwd: engin eering)
- What I would *love* to see is any evidence confirming this story.
I suspect it to be an wide spread urban legend.
> -----Original Message-----http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
> From: Adi Stav [mailto:stav@...]
> Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2001 6:21 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: [hackers-il] On the persistance of standards (was: Fwd:
> 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
> > 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?
> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to