Where and When Snow Comes Off a Moving Train

The snowfall from a snow-laden (from a snowfall) train is somewhat predictable—and so can be somewhat controlled, suggests this study: “Studies of Snow-Dropping from a Train on a Turnout due to Dynamic Excitations,” Tiia-Riikka Loponen, Pekka Salmenperä, Heikki Luomala, and Antti Nurmikolu, Journal of Cold Regions Engineering, vol. 32, no. 2, June 2018. The authors, […]

Ambitious railway plans

Who does not love an ambitious railway plan? The Guardian reports about a report about Chinese “plans to build a high-speed railway line to the US: The proposed line would begin in north-east China and run up through Siberia, pass through a tunnel underneath the Pacific Ocean then cut through Alaska and Canada to reach […]

They trained chickens to play baseball, and then some

Psychologist B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning work inspired the work of Marian Breland Bailey. Bailey’s work inspired this study: “Marian Breland Bailey: The Mouse Who Reinforced,”  John N. Marr, Arkansas Historical Quarterly. Vol. 61, No. 1 (Spring, 2002), pp. 59-79. Marr writes: Marian and her first husband, Keller Breland, had become the most experienced and accomplished […]

Improbable TV: Tay Bridge Disaster recited on a train on the bridge

Here’s a new episode of the Improbable Research TV series. It’s the 4th of many episodes featuring the bad poetry of William Topaz McGonagall. (For no good reason at all, we are releasing this 4th episode before we release the 3rd episode.) William Topaz McGonagall, who died in 1902, is widely regarded as the worst poet […]

From satire to proposal in 120 years

Ptak Science Books found an apparently serious engineering proposal that echoes a satire done more than 100 years earlier: John B. Prather launched an idea in 1945 for building a high-speed pneumatic passenger/freight train connecting New York City to Philadelphia. [It’s described in his] New York-Philadelphia Vacuum Tunnel, Preliminary Design Features and Economic Analysis… One […]

Improbable Research