Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Speed Misconception

History is an interesting thing when you get around to misconceptions.  You see...we've had a bunch of misconceptions over the last two thousand years or so.

There is this misconception about Viking helmets for example.  Folks always believed that they had horns on their helmets.  Well....there's never been any truth to this.  Oh, the starting point for horns on Viking helmets?  It was a Wagner opera setting, and the company found some horns and just put them on the fake helmets as part of the play.  Folks liked it, and just kept the tradition.

There's this misconception about all the folks found to violate witchcraft laws in Salem, MA.  Most folks think the guilty parties were burned at the stake.  Well....none were.  Some got sent off to the jail-house.  Some were hanged.  But no one ever got burned at the stake....at least in Salem.

There's this misconception of Einstein failing math in high school.  Well....that's totally bogus.  He did fail an entrance exam for the university.....but this was the broad test which had numerous subjects (not just math).

There's a misconception that Sushi (in Japan)....means raw fish.  Well....that's totally untrue.  It means simply means sour rice....which can be served with raw fish, but it can be served as just plain sour rice with no fish.

In South Korea, there's this odd misconception about running a fan in a room.  There's a general belief that it'll cause suffocation or hypothermia.  Most South Koreans will say it's an old-wives tale....but it gets repeated often.

Down in the south, we have this misconception of alcohol being a good thing to consume on a cold day.  The general idea is that it gets us all warmed up.  The more, the better.....especially in February.  Well....it's not true.  It might stimulate nerve endings.....but that's about all it does.

So, we come to the newest misconception.....high-speed means high-speed.

Yeah, it's an odd one.

The federal government sat down and defined high-speed, in relation to the new train idea of high-speed.  Why the fed's needed to be the authority on this?  Well....better them than the CNN crew or some intellectual dimwit from Idaho State University.

This federal money package to California....which was to be into the billions....states an obvious requirement.  The high-speed train must be able to get from San Fransisco to San Jose in thirty minutes or less.  The same high-speed train must be able to get from San Francisco to Los Angles 180 minutes or less.  To get the money......you'd normally have to write the plan to cover such a requirement.

Well....it's a misconception.

California came out yesterday with the general draft of the plan for operation.  Never mind the fact that the rail-line hasn't been built yet.

The times written?  This version of the trip from SF to San Jose?  It'll take 39 minutes instead of 30 minutes.  The trip between LA and SF?  They left it off the plan because only stage one is under consideration currently (SF to San Jose).  Most folks are thinking that they didn't want to admit it might be 250 minutes for this trip.  Once you go past 300 minutes....it becomes questionable if it's any better than air travel.

The general cause for lesser speed?  Well...if they replaced every single section of rail for the high-speed stuff.....the cost of the whole affair goes up.  So what they are saying.....various pieces of the trip from SF to San Jose.....will be redone, and you will "experience" high-speed.  Maybe for six minutes....maybe for ten....but you will feel like you are traveling at high speed.  That thrill....may be enough to sell you on the whole thing.

Naturally, a guy would sit and ponder.

When we started out with trains....there was this thought that if they ever got above a certain speed....the human body would be unable to handle the excess speed.  At the time....they were thinking like thirty or forty miles-per-hour.  That misconception disappeared rapidly.

I've come to notice some cars (like the Audi TT)....are built in a way to make you think that you are traveling at an excessively high speed, but then you realize that you are sitting around sixty miles per hour.

So, the odds are....this high-speed rail will be built in California, and folks will ride it.  Some will come to ask questions about the speed, and wonder if it was worth the billions involved.  Maybe....maybe not.  Course, it only works....if you need to get from SF to San Jose.  Otherwise, you 'd best use the airport.