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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Railroads and Rocket Science!

Does the statement, "We've always done it that way"
ring any bells?

The US standard railroad gauge (the distance between the
rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches That's an exceedingly odd
number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them 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 tram ways, and that's the gauge
they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people
who built the tram ways used the same jigs and tools
that they used for building wagons, which used that
wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd
wheel 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's
the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome
built the first long distance roads in Europe (and
England) for their legions. The roads have been used
ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which
everyone else had to Match for fear of destroying
their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for
Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of
wheel spacing.. The United States standard railroad
gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the
original specifications for an Imperial Roman war
chariot. 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 army
chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the
rear ends of two war horses.

Now the twist to the story.............

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch
pad, there are two Big booster rockets attached to the
sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket
boosters or SRBs.

The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah.
The engineers Who designed the SRBs would have
preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had
to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch
site. The railroad line from the factory happens to
run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to
fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider
than the railroad track, and the railroad track as
you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle 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.

And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't
important! :D:D:D:D:D
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