Seen, Heard, Said

Things I’ve seen, heard, or was told by someone. Item in this category usually originate from the Internet.

What Keeps a Train on the Track?

At first, it may seem very simply and obvious: the flange keeps the wheel on the track, right?

Nope, that’s not the answer!

To understand why, let’s first get some background on how train wheels are made:

The primary take away from the above video is that train wheels are big and come together with a joined axle — that is, they don’t have a differential. If you don’t know what a differential is, or want to be impressed by an awesome video from 1937, take a look-see as this:

That still doesn’t explain what keeps a train on the track though. If you haven’t been able to figure it out yet, Feynman will explain:

…and that’s called rail adhesion.

via Kottke


Link: Microspeak: Science project

Story of my life:


A third type of science project is simply trying to solve a problem that nobody really considers to be a problem. You’re doing it just for the Gee Whiz factor. For example, “If you have a pair of Bluetooth headphones, and you walk back into range of your computer, the computer can automatically unpause your music.” Yeah, I guess you could do that, but it also means that while you are away from your computer, you’re walking around looking like an idiot because you’re wearing headphones.

…yet still so fun!


The Rockwell Retro Encabulator

This is actually a pretty amazing application of engineering principles and worth watching for everyone.

“An instrument that would not only provide inverse reactive current, for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grand meters. Such an instrument comprised of Dodge gears and bearings, Reliance Electric motors, Allen-Bradley controls, and all monitored by Rockwell Software is Rockwell Automation’s Retro Encabulator.”


Link: When culture turns into policy

This is an interesting and really good point, and one that I believe extends far beyond the corporate boundary. Two questions come to mind:

  1. How should/do organizations (a loose term for groups of friends, companies, and governments) promote/reward/encourage desirable behavior (i.e. good culture) without forcing it (i.e. making it policy)?
  2. What are real world examples of good culture that have turned into bad policy?

Link: Why I Lost Faith in the Pro-Choice Movement

Yes, it definitely has an attention grabbing headline, but it also raises several really good points:

I was looking through a Time magazine article whose infograph cited data from the Guttmacher Institute about the most common reasons women have abortions. It immediately struck me that none of the factors on the list were conditions that we tell women to consider before engaging in sexual activity. Don’t have the money to raise a child? Don’t think your boyfriend would be a good father? Don’t feel ready to be a mother? Women were never encouraged to consider these factors before they had sex; only before they had a baby.

The fundamental truth of the pro-choice movement, from which all of its tenets flow, is that sex does not have to have life-altering consequences. I suddenly saw that it was the struggle to uphold this “truth” that led to all the shady dealings, all the fear of information, all the mental gymnastics that I’d observed.

That’s a bold claim: sex does not have to have life-altering consequences. Do you agree?

found via my friend Tim


Deep Thoughts From Team Chauncey

Chauncey must be learning good things at school. Here’s his latest insight:

It occurs to me that we’ve been taught to believe a lie

That brokenness in our world (and ourselves) is absolute

The person you or I am cannot change

Scars, the lie says, are signs of a wound

Pain is to be feared, safety is to be protected

We ought to remain as intact as possible

It so happens that the truth is much more complex

Healing almost always comes with pain

Risk often opens the doorway to joy

Allowing yourself to be transformed is where life is found

Scars, the truth says, are the artwork of the healer

How hard it is to hear and trust the whispers

That in time, all will be made well