The WONDERS of ENGINEERING!!!


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Posted by Mission Control on 03/27/02 - 11:46:02
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What's the connection between the space shuttle and a horse's ass ?  Read on to find out!

The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between
the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That is an exceptionally
odd number.

Now, 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 then? 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's 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 the twist to the story... When we see a Space
Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two
booster rockets attached to the side of the main
fuel tank. These are Solid Rocket Boosters or SRBs.
The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.
The engineers who designed the SRBs might 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 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'
behinds. So, the 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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