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From Donald Ball <ba...@webslingerZ.com>
Subject Re: Long term impacts on design decisions...
Date Sat, 01 Jul 2000 17:23:37 GMT
> Niclas Hedhman wrote:
> > 
> > The rocket booster on the side of the shuttle are a very specific
> > width.  They are this width because there is a very narrow train tunnel
> > they must travel through between the factory and the launch-pad.  Their
> > width is the largest diameter that tunnel can reasonably accommodate.
> > 
> > This tunnel is the width it is because it was originally cut as a tunnel
> > 
> > for a horse and buggy trail, on which the tracks were eventually
> > built.   The tunnel width is designed to accommodate carriages.
> > 
> > They could do this because all horse carriages made in the US were of a
> > standard axle width.  That standard was brought over by buggy makers who
> > 
> > came over from England.
> > 
> > That English standard came into being because the dirt roads out in the
> > boondocks of England were built and used extensively by the Romans.  The
> > 
> > Romans had a standard axle width to their chariots so deep grooves were
> > cut
> > by use into the roads.  Attempts to use non roman-standard axle-widths
> > in
> > England resulted in broken axles as the wheels got caught incorrectly in
> > 
> > the grooves.
> > 
> > The Romans had a standard chariot axle width because they were a
> > military
> > empire and chariots were military equipment. By making them to exact
> > standards they discovered the same thing we rediscovered much later (in
> > the
> > industrial revolution)-- parts could be replaced easily in the field and
> > 
> > thus they had more reliable war machines.  That standard was based on
> > the
> > width of two horses side by side, plus the equipment to harness them in.
> > 
> > (This is a true story.. but it has a punch line anyway...)
> > 
> > SO next time someone asks you "What horse's ass designed the space
> > shuttle?" you can tell him it was a Roman's.
> 
> This is *very* illuminating.
> 
> I wonder: will HTTP be the "horse carriage" of the internet rocket
> science?

It's a great story (in its entirety - it's abbreviated here), but
unfortunately it's not true (I can hunt down a reference for
disbelievers).

- donald


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