August 17, 1998 Design News
Letters to the Editor
Readers state their views
Your satirical article, "Will furniture airbags
soften the blow?" (Breaktime, 5/18/98 issue)
should emphasize that these airbags are to be used as
a supplemental restraint system only. The real protection
is provided when chair occupant uses his/her suspenders
as seat belts.
AlliedSignal Canada Inc.
Air bags for furniture, you've got to be kidding! What
happens once the air bag is deployed? Do you throw the
furniture away? Do you send it out to the neighborhood
furniture store to have a new bag installed?
I think the helmet idea is almost a good one. How about
a portable air bag that can be worn instead of the helmet?
It would resemble a head band, with an air bag in front,
one for the back of the head, and one on each side.
You're protected all the way around, no mater what the
No more cracked heads when two people bend over to
pick up the same item. Getting a file from the bottom
drawer of a file cabinet and hitting the back of your
head on the top drawer that is always open. Or hitting
the back of your head when you go to pick up you pen
that fell underneath your desk. Joggers can use it for
low tree limbs. How many times have you fallen off your
favorite bar stool at your local pub during happy hours?
Tall people going though doorways. There are endless
ways of hitting your head, and I think the Head Band
Air Bag is the way to go. Can be sold individually or
packs of 12 or by the case.
Thanks for hearing my suggestion.
'Sizing' up the safety debate
I heard on the news that the death rate in small cars
is approximately the same whether they are hit by a
SUV or another small car. I do not remember the name
of the study but I believe it was by the federal government.
As for why I choose a large vehicle, I am 43 inches
tall sitting down! I have not been able to find a new
car with sufficient headroom since the '70s.
Metric debate goes on
I hope that J.C.R. Forehand was being facetious (Letters,
6/8/98), but I suspect not.
As for a unit of measure corresponding to roughly a
foot, I propose the light-nanosecond (approximately
11.811 inches). Unlike a foot, it could be directly
measured in a well-equipped laboratory anywhere. It
doesn't "solve" the polysyllable nomenclature
gripe, but that's a straw-man anyway. Context is routinely
invoked to eliminate speaking the units of measure.
If I say to someone around here that I was driving 65,
I don't have to say "miles per hour"--it's
If I said I'd been driving a hundred on the Autobahn
to someone who thought in metric, he or she would probably
assume I meant kilometers per hour without any need
for me to say the words. The written abbreviations for
the units don't differ much between systems (and just
to claim that English measure is systematic, with hundreds
of different internal conversion factors!).
Reader J.C.R. Forehand misses the point entirely. The
independence of the units, therefore, the lack of fractions,
is exactly the beauty of the metric system. It would
pay for itself just for not having to teach fractions
in school, even if all the rest of the world didn't
Design News' website
I just wanted to compliment you on what must be one
of the best websites I have ever experienced (GREAT
My hope is that the Design News website becomes
known as setting the standard for no-nonsense efficient
communication of relevant information.
I am indeed as impressed with this website as I have
been with your already excellent magazine.
Correction: In the Technology Bulletin (Design
News, 6/8/98, p.22), an item on "nanophase"
materials--microscopic composites that have the potential
to create superior protective coatings-- drew wide response
from readers. The correct name of the individual heading
up a two-year study of nanotechnology is Richard W.
Siegel, a professor of materials science and engineering
at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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