Friday, December 04, 2009

Strange true facts

1- the famous, or infamous, "black box recorder" in all civilian aircraft is actually bright orange. ( usually there are two of them as well! Redu )

2- the average horse in average activity produces disputedly 3.4 hp, with a peak of 12.1hp (wiki) while of course just walking it is under a horse power effort. James Watt knew about averages and studied many horses - used in working pit hoists where horses were employed in tread wheels (mills) and those drawing brewery carts ( common in Glasgow!) so he based his work on foot llbs per minute, from a standing start I believe. So a horse in one minute can hoist a weight so many feet in the air. However a horse with momentum, already moving it's own weight, produces on average 3.4 allegedly in what is a horses average activity- I take it this means a canter or trot. ...and so rages on the torque versus absolute horse power ratings today ( hp = torque x rpm )
Sadly end is in sight for "horse power" as a measurement. James Watts analogous measure - he allegedly chose for marketing purposes- painting the picture of how much effort his improved steam engine could gain over the 'cornish'steam engine or horses themselces - a measure in flesh and blood rather than his own more esoteric measure ( 1 hp = 740 watts app, 0.7 KW hence kw is about 2/3 the rating in 1000s of horse power .)
Now ships and locomotives are quoted as generators have been for many years- kilo and mega watts. Generators Kw/h rating is more applicable to electric power, which ships are moving towards as final drive ( inc. the latest Queen Mary) so to speak- traction motors on shorte prop shafts. Locomotives are quoted more often now in Kw, but some linger on hp and most refer also to maximum lifting peak tractive effort- for example EE type three was 55,000 ft.lbs at 18mph. Electric locomotives have higher peak power at high speed where the high voltage available can be engaged for sprints to gain top speed, but these are not sustainable before electrical equipment overheats.

With the advent of hybrid cars, electric drive pleasure boats and alternative energies, the days of horse power look numbered. Marketing needs something less macho to sell cars which are no longer raw v8s. Perhaps we will relate more to our grandmothers kw electric bar heaters as we meander down the eco-friendly lane.

3.On the subject of driving, more people use the right lane of the road with left hand drive, as summed up on "world standards" hosted in belgium. China is decisive because otherwise the massive population of post colonial india would be outdriving the US and EU put together. Oddly, Samoa (not USA samoa) chose to shift the opposite way that sweden had 42 years ago, this year when they went right to left. Not long after they were hit by a Tsunami, two unrelated events you may ask?

The origins of driving on the left was due to the middle ages in england when riding with your sword at hand to defend from attackers meant people kept to the left hand side so as to defend quickly on the right. Suspicious bunch the english horsemen then. Driving on the right may have to do with rebellion, but also nautical origins where Starboard, or Right, and the relation driote-rights meant that those on the right had er, right of way. Interestingly traffic lights adopted the green, starboard light for GO and the red, port for YIELD surely a nautical decision.

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