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color cycle (slow)

Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Counterintuitive, strange, everyday things
color cycle (slow)
There are very many things that people take completely for granted as normal, to an extent that most people don't think about them. Getting temporarily bored with playing my Game Boy on a seven-hour car trip, however, leaves me with nothing else to do. Perhaps this post is, therefore, Blue Man Group's fault, as I thought of it whilst listening to them.

Consider, if you will, car tires. Stop and actually think about them for a little. Somebody figured out that the most effective way to cushion and carry an extremely heavy box of motorized metal was on an extraordinarily thick donut-shaped balloon. Of all the materials such a support could be made out of- such as more obvious things like metal or rock- the most resillient, strong, and generally functional is rubber and air. But mostly air. It's worked so well, nobody's searched for an essentially different answer.

When one thinks about it more, there are many advantages: built-in shock absorption, distortion of tire implies more surface area on ground implies more traction, generally resilient nature of rubber keeps tire from getting bent out of shape with time. It's a good solution- it really is- but what line of thought was it that led the inventor to figure it out? It's easy to see what's right about tires as they exist because they've already been done, but what about before that?

Then there's the entire idea of paved roads: a preference to change the environment to be easier to drive on rather than make machines better at traversing the terrain. It does need to be noted that while it's in one sense safer to drive on easier terrain, it's far more destructive to the environment. It does seem backwards to me: is it really easier to change the environment rather than change the device? I suppose it's rather like heating systems versus sweaters.

A more fundamental counterintuitive thing: parts. Not just the interchangable parts of the Industrial Revolution, but the idea of parts in general: pieces that can be assembled in a variety of ways to make a wide variety of devices. Circuit boards are really simple things, made of just a few fundamental pieces, but they can do very impressive things. There's really nothing intuitive about the production of items completely useless by themselves- at least nails can be useful, but there's not much you can do with just a capacitor.

Just random thoughts, cut short by a *ding* indicating the completion of the cooking of a frozen pizza...

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Getting temporarily bored with playing my Game Boy on a seven-hour car trip, however, leaves me with nothing else to do.

It's far more boring to do the driving on a 10-hour car trip.


Right up your alley - almost too perfect to be coincidence. Now you have to play PP! Those games are integrated neatly into PP, on a parlor games table at the inn.

Lemme know what you get up to with it. :D

Long car trips are never fun, especially when they coincide with the one week in the semester where there is no lecture so that you can get caught up.

~Fire Eyes

You should try to get hold of a documentary series called Connections. Lots of cool stuff about how inventions actually were invented and how they influence us.

I'm actually going over to Kelly's to watch an episode now.

Plus, James Burke is cool. He's all British and.. British.

Well, on the tires thing, the happenstance that hey, making them from rubber and filling them with air, wasn't some magical 'Eureka' insight, really. It was trial and error. In the past, we've made wheels out of stone, wood, solid rubber, etc.. Filling rubber with air was a pretty good bit of engineering. Since then, the big innovation has been in tubeless tires. Though, they're working on tires that're different. Innovation never ceases. Michelin is working on the 'T-Wheel', which has a rubber rolling surface supported by lots of polymer spokes. The springy spokes are supposed to take the place of the air. And there's a company, who's name escapes me right now, that's trying to perfect tires filled with polyurethane foam, which, while still technically containing air, contain it in billions of little pockets.

Incidentally, tyres are adapted well to their function, but any travel favours even ground anyway - the Romans built roads for their armies to travel along, since you could march soldiers more quickly along a nice flat surface than if they're apt to get stuck in potholes and stuck in the mud. Tyres and roads are both adaptations to fast travel; it's not really a case of having to build roads because our tyres are inadequate. Only methods of travel which do not involve touching the ground would not benefit from roads.

Car trips are indeed boring. Is it normal for you to take several-hour-long car trips?

Well, it's the preferred method of travel to get to my relatives in Indiana, as it's too close to justify the inconvenience and expense of airplane usage. The trips aren't that frequent, but they're a pretty normal thing, yeah.

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