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How 2000 year old decisions are affecting NASA rockets

2000 year old decisions are affecting NASA rockets

by Roman on November 30, 2010

The following story was sent to me by a friend on an email. I am no expert on the things it talks about – the rockets of NASA and how they are affected by the technology of ancient Roman Empire – but it sounds so incredible, that it has to be true! 😆

Here is the story

In the United States the standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number, so 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 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?

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.
So the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches was derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. 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 ends of two war horses.

The point to this 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 SRB 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!

If anyone has interesting spam like this, feel free to send it to my email roman [ät] financialjesus [dot] com

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Bonjugal December 17, 2010 at 8:26 am

Man.. u kept your promise by bringing a promising story up to the world..

Bingo Machine January 5, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Right, it is there now. Maybe I needed to empty the cache too, likely my NoScript acted up.

Yaarik January 10, 2011 at 7:30 am

This is brilliant!

sarman January 16, 2011 at 7:49 am

hahahahahahah…. yeah… had the horse’s ass been quite bigger……. it might have helped NASA scientist a bit….. 🙂

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