Saturday, June 02, 2007

the world's best mechanical engineer explains it all for you

boarding the train

With special guest star: The World's Best Mechanical Engineer.

Joe-Henry of Mommy's in a Timeout fame had some questions for the World's Best Mechanical Engineer. Many, many questions, actually -- as a six-year old boy is wont to have.

Here's one puzzle made plain by the b1-67er, aka the World's Best Mechanical Engineer:

Q. How do the doors on the Max train open?

A. I'm not familiar with this particular train, but I can probably answer this question right anyway. Almost all doors on trains that are automatic are pneumatic. This means that they are moved with air. Air is blown into a device called a pneumatic cylinder. It is basically a tube that is plugged at one end, and has a movable rod plugging the other end. When you blow air into the tube, the air pushes the rod out of the tube.

To see what I mean, go to Taco Bell. Order a large Mountain Dew. Make sure to get a straw that is covered that is covered with paper. Tear the paper off of one end of the straw, but leave the rest of the straw covered with paper. Blow hard into the open end of the straw. The paper cover will go flying off of the straw.

Congratulations, you've just made the world's cheapest pneumatic cylinder. Celebrate by drinking your large Mountain Dew.

The beauty of pneumatics is that they push hard, but not so hard that you'll squash someone like a bug. Pneumatics are lightweight and can be fit into pretty small spaces, like the train door.

(Did I mention that he's the World's Best Mechanical Engineer?)

Also in this series:
holy hydraulics, batman!
solenoid spectacular
springs & things


anniemcq said...

This is such a great illustration of pneumatics! However, as a mom, I have to say no to Mountain Dew (he wouldn't drink it anyway - he doesn't like "bubblies"). But you can bet we'll be doing the straw test!

Joe-Henry listened carefully as I read your answer, and said "Does this mean the driver blows into a tube?.....Nah! I'm just kiddin'!" I am in such trouble.

Thank you, so much, World's Best Mechanical Engineer, and you too Ms. Suttonhoo, Worlds Best Pal. We are so excited to hear more!

suttonhoo said...

uh oh. you probably shouldn't have said that about the dew.

(it'll be interesting to see where this goes next.)

anniemcq said...

Well, you know, if he LIKED the Dew, he MIGHT get the treat. It's more that he doesn't enjoy soda.

But also the fact that Mountain Dew makes six year olds act like the Tasmanian Devil. Maybe right before a trip to Grandma's house....

Anonymous said...

Dear Mom of my Pal Joe-Henry:

Sugar is brain food. I kid you not: the only thing the brain can metabolize is sugar. Give him the the Mountain Dew (the Engineer's Choice). The caffein will speed the processing a tad. Feed him the Dew and watch the synapses fly!
You wouldn't go to a lawyer and not take their legal advice, why would you go to an engineer and not take their engineering advice?
By the way, have you ever heard of a small rodent called a mountain beaver (different from a regular beaver)? Probably not. But you HAVE heard of a Tasmanian Devil. Why do you think that is?


aija said...

pnuematic = brave new world (for me).

rad series! :)

Zhu Y said...

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