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Lesson Plans

Fwd: FW: Two Horses' Behinds

From: Rdunkelart
Date: Fri May 26 2000 - 10:40:44 PDT

  • Next message: Rdunkelart: "Re: Student Artwork! Pictures!"

    How about another summer laff- maybe there is a situation at school that
    like this - Roberta

    attached mail follows:

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Kevin A. Zurowests [SMTP:apphorse]
    Sent: Friday, May 26, 2000 8:01 AM
    To: Zach Zuroweste; Shirley Schmitz; Sarah Williams; Rosalie Knipp Wertz; Phyliss Barker; Glen & Carolyn Zuroweste; April Thomas; Bill & Kay Palmer
    Subject: Fw: Two Horses' Behinds

     Subject: Two Horses' Behinds
    > >The Historical Significance of a Horse's Back End
    > >
    > >The US standard railroad gauge (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 U. S. 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 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.
    > >
    > >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? 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? The initial ruts, which everyone
    else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels and wagons, were
    > first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for, or by,
    > >Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Thus
    we have the answer to the original question.
    > >
    > >The United States 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
    > back end came up with it, you may be exactly right - because the Imperial
    Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of
    two war horses.
    > >
    > >Now the twist to the story. There's an interesting extension to the
    story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds. When we see a space shuttle
    > >sitting on the launch pad, there are two booster rockets attached to the
    > >sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRB's.
    The SRB's are made by Thiokol at their factory at 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 SRB's had to fit through the tunnel. The tunnel is
    > slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as
    > two horse's back ends. So, this major design feature of what is arguably the
    > >world's most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of two Horses' Back
    > Ends!!
    > >


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