Ever wonder why ..........  


The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two rails) is 4

feet,  8.5 inches.   That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?


 Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads

were  built by English expatriates.


 Why did the English build them like that ?


 Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the

 pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.


 Why did "they" use that gauge then?


 Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools

that  they used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing.


Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?


Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would

break  on  some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's  the

spacing  of  the wheel ruts.


So who built those old rutted roads?


The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by

Imperial  Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts

in  the roads? Roman war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which

everyone  else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the

Chariots  were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of

wheel  spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches

derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are

handed  a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be

exactly  right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough

to  accommodate the back ends of two war horses.


Thus, we have the answer to the original question.

Now the extra-terrestrial twist to the story...


When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big

booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are

solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in

Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make

them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to

the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a

tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is

slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as

two horses' behinds. So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's

most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years

ago by the width of a horse's ass.


And you wonder why it's so hard to get ahead in this world



 I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.