[FoRK] Plumbing, power, sign posts - getting simple things wrong

rst at ai.mit.edu rst at ai.mit.edu
Mon Mar 21 07:34:56 PDT 2011


Stephen Williams writes:

 > How, even in the 70's, do you get simple plumbing so wrong?  They
 > should have had 3 redundant systems, one of which included a pipe
 > some distance away that simply required input of water.

Lack of experience, and a little hubris.  Same as most other
technologies.  We don't think of steamboats now as having a whole lot
in the way of risky, dangerous technology --- but for the first several 
*decades* that they were in service, boiler explosions were a pretty
common event.

To put it another way: No matter how careful you are building the
first few of *anything*, there's going to be some problem you
overlooked.  Some problem which makes everyone say "how could they
possibly not have forseen *that*?" when it has made itself obvious
by blowing up.  And the only way to work those kinks out is through
experience.

FWIW, more recent reactor designs have stressed "passive" safety
features, including prepositioned cisterns of cooling water located
a pretty safe distance away...

rst


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