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rocket scientists I have met

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  • rocket scientists I have met

    The radio this morning mentioned a proposal to raise the maximum allowable weight of trucks on American highways by 20%. This was being opposed by a safety organization, which predicted that it would increase traffic deaths. "It's not rocket science, it's basic physics," the spokeswoman said.

    Having worked many years in the aerospace industry, I cringe whenever I hear this pat comparison. The utterance implies that "rocket science" is something difficult. I think most of you are aware that it is just one field of engineering, no more difficult than any other.

    Perhaps I can get the ball rolling to stamp out this phrase by mentioning that in my last job I worked with three rocket engineers who, despite being quite adequate in their profession, were "young earth creationists" who believed that the earth was only about 6,000 years old. Whatever your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), this is (like the square root of two) irrational.
    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

  • #2
    I worked with Aerospace for quite a few years, before moving on to a business with fewer layoffs, and plenty of work.

    While I was in Aerospace I was told you only needed to know three things to be a "rocket scientist"

    1. Sh*t rolls downhill

    2. You can't push a rope

    3. Payday is on Friday
    No good deed goes unpunished.

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    • #3
      I knew a mining engineer/geologist who was a Young Earther. Talk about compartmentalization.

      Rocket science IS difficult, especially orbital dynamics. There is very little intuitive about it. We still don't have an analytical solution for a transfer from one elliptical orbit to another in a different plane.
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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      • #4
        So what's the complaint?
        She was right. Heavy trucks (the matter of) on the highway is not rocket science.

        Thinking back, I don't recall ever hearing that expression for many years after the launch of Sputnik. Wasn't until much later that it seemed to catch on, long after, I suppose, the engineering disciplines unique to aerospace work had become commonplace.

        But for some reason I just don't think "Hey, it ain't semiconductor engineering science", or some such phrase is going to catch on and become the new standard.

        But good luck anyway.

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        • #5
          But Rocket science IS complex if yer only used to flippin' Burgers. Weights and trajectorys, ---- Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Ok, I get your point.

          egards Ian
          You might not like what I say,but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by aostling
            The radio this morning mentioned a proposal to raise the maximum allowable weight of trucks on American highways by 20%. This was being opposed by a safety organization, which predicted that it would increase traffic deaths. "It's not rocket science, it's basic physics," the spokeswoman said.
            Traffic deaths in this context is open to discussion. On the other hand, increasing truck weight by 20% is incredibly expensive to the taxpayers, considering that road wear increases by weight to the power of 4!
            Considering that existing trucks already cause the same road wear as 10000...20000 normal cars, you can see where the budgets are going.

            Benta.

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            • #7
              Actually, the discussion doesn't have a context regarding truck weights. Twenty percent of what? We run the heaviest loads in North America here. An 18 wheel truck is permitted up to 92,000 lbs (42,000 kilos). As far as budgets, the trucks pay very high road taxes, thousands per year. As for accidents, very few accidents involve logging truck vs light vehicle. That isn't an issue. Stupid drivers are.
              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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              • #8
                Originally posted by lynnl
                So what's the complaint?
                I think Allan's point is that physics is just as challenging a profession as rocket science, or brain surgery.

                Tom, think you can handle aerospace engineering?
                "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Evan
                  Actually, the discussion doesn't have a context regarding truck weights. Twenty percent of what?
                  I was paraphrasing. I think the report mentioned increasing max allowable weight from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds, and I did the math.
                  Allan Ostling

                  Phoenix, Arizona

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                  • #10
                    The heaviest loads permitted here are around 125,000 lbs.
                    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                    • #11
                      No, it's not rocket science, it's basic economics.

                      It used to be that transport trucks had five axles, 18 wheels.
                      Now 6-9 axles are common, 22-30 wheels.

                      Make that driver more productive, he wasn't busy enough already, and don't forget to nail his ass to the wall when something goes wrong! Anybody here realize how busy things can get hustling 100,000-140,000 lbs. down the highway? Throw in some bad weather and some idiots in cars on cell phones, and things get very interesting.
                      With "just-in-time" inventory management being the norm now there are no longer large amounts of stock sitting idly in a warehouse. It's all on trucks...our nations highways are now our warehouses. It's obvious, for the sake of productivity, that we will have to put more wheels under our rolling warehouses.

                      Sorry, I know this wasn't the point you were trying to make.
                      I'll get off of my soapbox now.
                      Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                      Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lazlo
                        I think Allan's point is that physics is just as challenging a profession as rocket science, or brain surgery.

                        Tom, think you can handle aerospace engineering?

                        Oh I reckon so. Evan is right that orbital dynamics can be a complex subject, but as Aostling indicates, there are really intelligent people in all different occupations (the corrollary being that there are stupid people in all occupations, also )


                        BTW, I really enjoyed the following, brought a smile to my face:

                        Originally posted by aostling
                        Perhaps I can get the ball rolling to stamp out this phrase by mentioning that in my last job I worked with three rocket engineers who, despite being quite adequate in their profession, were "young earth creationists" who believed that the earth was only about 6,000 years old. Whatever your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), this is (like the square root of two) irrational.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Evan
                          The heaviest loads permitted here are around 125,000 lbs.
                          Actually Evan it's 63,500 kg, or about 139,700lbs.
                          Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                          Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Fasttrack
                            BTW, I really enjoyed the following, brought a smile to my face:

                            Originally posted by aostling
                            in my last job I worked with three rocket engineers who, despite being quite adequate in their profession, were "young earth creationists" who believed that the earth was only about 6,000 years old. Whatever your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), this is (like the square root of two) irrational.
                            Faith is impossible to understand for those who don't have it (like myself)

                            But don't confuse faith with ignorance or stupidity. Most engineers and scientists are some form of agnostic, but there are brilliant engineers and scientists who are deeply religious. The latter are faced with a tough dichotomy of faith-based religious belief versus accepted scientific theory.

                            When you die, you find out who was right
                            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                            • #15
                              Michigan reportedly has the highest load limits in the U.S.

                              A little net research suggests that trucks are permitted to run loads in the area of 160,000 pounds. As I said, permitted with a special permit.

                              Oh yeah. If you have ever driven in Michigan, you can see the destruction on our roads.

                              We have huge double bottom gravel haulers hauling gravel and sand to build new roads. The roads around the gravel pits are like driving in a plowed field.

                              It seems to me sometimes that the people who wreck our roads are the same people getting paid to repair and rebuild them. Talk about creating your own market.

                              Brian
                              OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

                              THINK HARDER

                              BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

                              MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

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