More Engineering Trivia - An Engineer's Aspect


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Monday, July 27, 2009

More Engineering Trivia

Engineers seem to like trivia...I do. Below is more of a collection of interesting facts found on some cool engineering pages.

From Reliable Plant:

Q1: In what year did the first home computer games appear?

A. 1958
B. 1963
C. 1974
D. 1980

A1: 1974

Q2: How small is the world’s smallest radio?

A. The size of a marble
B. The size of a golf ball
C. The size of a tennis ball

A2: The size of a marble.

Q3: The first model of this groundbreaking home entertainment device was announced on September 9, 1976, by a team of engineers headed by Shizuo Takano and Yuma Shiraishi.

A. Rear Projection Television
B. VHS Format
C. High Definition Film Projector

A3: VHS Format

Q4: During which time period did Benjamin Franklin live and work in London popularizing the study of electricity, performing experiments, and serving as an advisor on lightning conductors?

A. 1732-1756
B. 1757-1775
C. 1776-1782

A4: 1757-1775

Q5: The creation in 1962 of the Centre Electronique Horloger of Neuchâtel in Switzerland enabled production of the first prototypes of which of the following items?

A. Quartz Electronic Wristwatch
B. Self-Starting Gas-Powered Engine
C. Radio Telescope

A5: Quartz Electronic Wristwatch

Q6: Early developments of this extremely popular device began as early as 1901 with Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres-Quevedo.

A. Electronic Calculator
B. Microwave Oven
C. Remote Control

A6: Remote Control

Q7: How fast is the speed of light?

A. 100,000 km/sec
B. 200,000 km/sec
C. 300,000 km/sec

A7: 300,000 km/sec

Q8: 1928 the Detroit Police Department was the first to prove the practicality of this pioneering advancement, which led to its adoption throughout the country?

A. One Way Radio Communication
B. Two Way Radio Communication
C. Grid Tracking

A8: One Way Radio Communication

Q9: What type of plants did Mendel use for his genetic experiments?

A. Corn plants
B. Bean plants
C. Pea plants

A9: Pea Plants

Q10: Who made the first electric light bulb?

A. Thomas Edison
B. Humphry Davy
C. Joseph Swan

A10: Humphry Davy

From Mechanical Design Innovations:
"Did you know that a major design feature in the space shuttle - the worlds most advanced transportation system - was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horses backside.

When we see a space shuttle sitting on it's launch pad, there are two solid rocket boosters, or SBR's attached to the side of the main fuel tank. These SBR's are made by ATK Launch at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SBR's would have preferred to make them fatter, but the SBR's had to be shipped by train to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad tracks.

The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and the U.S. railroads were built by English expatriates. Why did the English build them that way? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railway tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

The wagons used that spacing because that was the spacing of the existing wheel ruts in the roads and using any other spacing would cause the wagon wheels to break off on some of the old, long distance roads.

These roads were built by the Roman empire, and the ruts in the road which everyone had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels, were made by Roman war chariots. The specifications for the wheel spacing on the Roman chariots was 4 feet, 8.5 inches, which is slightly wider than the width of two horses rumps.

So you see, that the design of the solid rocket boosters was determined over two thousand years ago, by the width of two horses backsides."


Water Trivia Facts by the Numbers:
  • 1 is the percentage of the earth's water that is suitable for drinking.
  • 2 is number of gallons of water that is used to brush your teeth.
  • 2 is also the number of gallons of water that is used for an automatic dishwasher.
  • 2 is also the percentage of the world's water that is frozen. Being frozen makes the water unusable.
  • 5 to 7 is the amount of water that is used each time a toilet is flushed.
  • 8.34 is the number of pounds that one gallon of water weighs.
  • 20 is the number of gallons of water used to hand wash dishes (on average).
  • 25 to 50 gallons of water are used each time you take a shower.
  • 80 is the percentage of the earth's surface that is water.
  • 97 is the percentage of the earth's water that is an ocean or a sea.
  • 168 is the number of gallons of water a person uses each day.
  • 66 is the percentage of the human body that is water.
  • 2,027 is the number of gallons of water that it takes to make four new tires.
  • 39,090 is the number of gallons of water that it takes to manufacture a new car...including tires.
  • 58,900 is the number of community public water supply systems in the United States.
  • 34 billion is the number of gallons that these community public water supply systems produce every day.
  • 107,000 is the number of gallons of water an average residence uses every year.

From the RF Cafe:

  • Around 4,000 Chicago homes have their cookers fuelled by methane gas produced from cow dung. The company providing this valuable service is called the Calorific Recovery Anaerobic Process Inc.(1)
  • In one second 6,242,000,000,000,000,000 electrons pass any given point in an electrical current. (3)
  • A jumbo jet weighs as much as 76 African elephants. Despite this, elephants continue to be discriminated against in aviation law. It is forbidden, for example, to lead one's elephant through the approach tunnels of London's Heathrow Airport.(1)
  • The Beaufort Scale is a device for measuring the strength of the wind at sea. Normal breathing registers force two on the Beaufort Scale (described as a light breeze).(1)
  • The world's deepest hole is an exploratory geological drilling in the Koal Peninsula, in northern Russia. In 1984 it was more than four-fifths of the way to its target depth of 15,000 m (49,000 ft.).(4)
  • Octopuses in Monterey Bay, California have been seen making their homes in discarded beer cans. In Germany, there is a type of flea which lives and breeds only in beer mats. The consumption of beer in a privy, toilet or lavatory is forbidden in Manitoba.(1)
  • Whenever a fly alights on an ocean liner of about 35000 tons, the ship tends to sink lower in the water by one tenth the thickness of an atom (0.1 Å) - this can be measured at present by means of an electrostatic capacity meter. If the fly lands on the handrail, say 15 meters (17 yards) from the center line of the ship, the resulting downward deflection of the ship on the same side will be about 20 times greater (unless the vessel is efficiently stabilized). In fact, it is not even necessary for the fly to to touch the ship at all. If it merely hovers just above the deck, the vertical pressure of the airstream generated by its wings will have practically the same effect on the ship. (2)
  • Two irrigation dams built by Roman engineers in the 2ng century ADS in Merida Spain, are still in use. The only major maintenance work they have needed in the past 1,800 years has been the renewal of their stone facings, carried out in the 1930's.(4)
  • If a passenger car with a stationary weight of 1000 kg (220 lbs) is accelerated from rest to 60 km per hour (40 mph), it gains something like the weight of a pinhead in the process. If the car could be made to travel at 100 times the velocity of sound (100 X 1200 km per hour) it would become about 100 kg heavier, and at 250,000 km per hour its weigh would be doubled. Traveling at 0.999% of the velocity of light, the car would weigh 2,000 times its stationary weight, and would plough deep furrows in the surface of the road. (2)
  • The word bicycle is from the Latin, bis, twice and the Greek, kyclos, circle. This fashionable mode of transport was denounced by a Baltimore preacher in 1896 as a "diabolical device of the demon of darkness". His reason for condemnation was not on the perfectly justifiable grounds that the word is an ugly Latin-Greek hybrid (etymological purists would only ride a dicycle) but simply because too many of his parishioners were lured away from church on pleasant Sunday afternoons by the temptation of a bike ride. Perhaps because they are aware of the potential corrupting danger to moral standards, British Columbia has imposed a 10 mph limit for tricycles. (1)
  • The variety of aluminum used to manufacture airplane wings is capable of withstanding loads of more than 90,000 pounds per square inch. Aluminum can be spun into a filament so fine that 1.5 pounds of it could encircle the world. (3)
  • Bifocals were invented in 1785 by Benjamin Franklin. The inspiration came from a desire to be able to enjoy his dinners fully, able to see both what he was eating and the companion to whom he was talking. Franklin was also responsible for the invention of the rocking chair. (1)
  • In July 1950, a patent was issued for an automatic spaghetti-spinning fork. (3)
  • A fundamental law of economics may underlie the findings of a recent piece of research: calculations indicate that the amount of money spent on financing research into construction methods in Britain is approximately the same amount of money spent on providing tea for builders on construction sites. (1)
  • The human race as we know it has existed for approximately 50,000 years. This makes it approximately 800 lifetimes old, assuming a lifetime to be from 65 to 70 years. Of these 800 lifetimes, about 650 were passed by cave dwellers. Nearly all the manufactured products, luxury items, and technological conveniences we enjoy today were invented or perfected within only the past 5 to 7 lifetimes. (3)


(1) Hartson, Bill and Jill Dawson The Ultimate Irrelevant Encyclopedia. London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1985.

(2) Houwink, R The Odd Book of Data. Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing Company, 1965

(3) Louis, David 2201 Fascinating Facts. New York: Greenwich House, 1983.

(4) The Reader's Digest Book of Facts. London: The Reader's Digest Association Limited, 1985.