I think you have just perfectly illustrated Martin's point. Even with all the testing and safe practices utilized on the space program accidents still happened and lives were lost. To assume those were the only lives that would have been lost if all of the precautions had not been attended to is just plain wrongheaded. Why do you think the missions were suspended after each of those tragdies? Studies were conducted and changes made so those would be one time occurances.
As for as your "We are all going to buy the farm" attitude: I hope you have the decency to tell all of your coworkers of your feelings before you engage them in any activity that could be hazardous. If you continue to work in that manner, you will not have to worry about that nursing home. My hope is that you do not take anyone along with you. Stupid may be a harsh word, but it will do until a better one comes along.
I think that the term, "stupid" is a little harsh. People place way-too-much emphasis on safety to the point that it impedes R & D efforts. True, the students, and faculty need to take precautions, but if we buy-into your philosophy, we wouldn't have had a great run with the Space Shuttle. We lost two ( 2 ) crews, but while tragic to be certain, you didn't see anyone back-away from future missions, either. Life's dangerous, period, and end, and we're all going to, "buy the farm" sooner, or later. I'm not seeing a down-side to dying while doing something that you're passionate about - it sure-as-Hell beats dying while taking a dump in the Nursing Home restroom.
A couple years back when I had some downtime between jobs my friend Asim and I built a nifty jet engine using a turbocharger. The interesting part was constructing the combustion chamber. I designed it and created the CAD drawings and had a local machinist cut the metal from scraps I got at a boeing scrap yard in Kent WA. teh compbustion chamber was about 20 inches long and made of some Inconel pipe I found.
It worked well enough but it turns out to create any kind of useful thrust the engine has to move a lot of air. The turbochargers from cars and big trucks have very heavy casings to resist catastrophic failures so I was not too worried about the high speed compressor rotor coming apart.
The idea we were working on was to create a Solar powered engine to drive a PMG directly coupled to the turbine. Unfortunately I had to go back to work but it was certainly a fun project. I wish I had the pictures and the thermal analysis software I wrote for it.
Unbelievably stupid; When an overspeed sends 2 halves of a centrifugal compressor in opposite directions, you can get two students at once. Then, the unloaded turbine can overspeed and blow. A tour of a real test cell with pictures of the torn up concrete walls looking like machine gun pits and ripped up casings should be coming from the professors. Even the brilliant designers and builders at Pratt, Rolls or GE keep concrete or 20 pains of glass between themselves and the new product........
It should also be noted that the use of small jet engines has become quite common in the model airplane field. Well, quite common in a somewhat limited sense! Model jet turbines with impressive performance are readily available although the costs are (at least to this penny pinching engineer) pretty high (somewhere in the $2,000 and up range) and there are a number of model airplanes available to house these engines.
The newer ones are incorporating an impressive amount of 'smarts' (i.e. uP controllers) for much greater ease in starting and running. The engines are also incorporating trust control including vectored thrust control (i.e. the engine's output can be slewed from the normal axis to permit some amazing variations in the aircraft's flight path).
The performance of these jet equipped models is truly impressive .... and loud!
Love this treatment. Very cool to see the juxtaposition of the jet engine created in the university setting, all buttoned up and produced (unbelievably so) with a 3D printer compared to the guy in what looks to be his basement with the 40-year plus crinkled up design plans. Either way, great stuff and a perfect way to showcase the back-room innovations happening every day.
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