Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, May 27, 2005

Wow! Cool! Edmonton is putting together a bid to host Expo 2015!

Well, that's not true. On Tuesday, there'll be a motion before the city council to
begin a study to see if it's worth it to put together a bid. But it's already got
people buzzing. I think that'd be very cool to have Expo 2015 in Edmonton. But
first, we have to have the study to see if a proposal is worth it.

Beuracracy rocks!

There's something that I've had floating in my mind for a while now, but I've been reluctant to share it for fear of upsetting people. So, I'm going to say it now.

Recently, the province of Alberta was rocked by a very tragic car accident. A bus carrying oilfield workers back from Fort McMurray was in an accident, 4 oil workers were killed, and 10 others injured. The highway from Edmonton to Fort McMurray has been deemed one of the worst in Alberta, as there is a disproportionatly high number of accidents on that road.

Naturally, people are calling for the highway to be twinned to make it safer. The province is refusing to twin the highway, though. According to the province, a highway needs 10,000 cars/day driving on it to warrant twinning. Right now, the road to Fort McMurray only has 6000/day. "Not enough," says the province.

So, may I present an alternative?

Rail travel.

Let's get passenger rail service going to Fort McMurray again.

Right now, the oil companies are chartering buses to get their workers up to Fort McMurray. I've read varrying statistics, but there's between 40-60 buses running on that highway every day. That's probably 5 trains. A private company could institute rail service to Fort McMurray, and get the oil companies to charter rail cars the way they charter buses.

Plus, with rail travel, you wouldn't have to slow down for any speed zones that you find on a highway. You wouldn't even have to stop for gas. It's a much more efficent way.

With rail travel, you'd get more people to Fort McMurray faster, and for the same price as sending them on the most dangerous road in the province.

Granted, about a year ago, the provincial government was talking about upgrading the railroad to Fort McMurray, again to relieve congestion of the highway. I know people think that we need those upgrades to send people up the railway to Fort McMurray, but we don't. Via Rail was sending people along that railway until the end of the 80s, when Via determined that rail service to Fort McMurray was no longer worth it.

So? Who needs Via? There have been dozens of rail lines abandoned by the big rail companies, only to become quite successful when a private company takes it over as a short line railway. Passenger rail service to Fort McMurray could be the same thing.

And that's my two cents. I know that twinning the highway is the first option people reach for, but there are alternatives when you take a look around.

Think that would upset people?

OK, now here's something really important I need to remember:

d = d0 + v0t + ½at2


d = distance
v = velocity
a = acceleration
t = time

This is one of the most basic physics equations. And I needed it today. And I forgot it.

Here's how it went down. I was helping my Dad out at a gas well. Dad said, "Hey, my son who I spent a lot of money on so he could get a physics degree! How deep is this well?" And then he tossed a rock down it.

Naturally, I needed that above equation, but my mind completely blanked. I mean, it's only the one physics equation they drill into your mind since high school. Needless to say, I was totally embarassed. I think I'll send my degree back to Augustana.

In case you're curious, this is how you use the above equation to figure out how deep a well is.

d0 = 0, because you drop the rock from 0.
v0 = 0, because the rock starts at rest.

So really, all you need is:

d = ½at2

a = acceleration due to gravity, which is 9.81m/s2
t = time

Drop your rock. Time how long it takes to hit the bottom. That's t. Plug into your equation, and that's how deep your well is. It also works for seeing how high up you are.

And don't forget, this only works for motion in one dimension. So, when you drop your rock, hope it isn't pushed around too much by the wind.

Man, I can't believe I forgot that. I was embarrased beyond belief. And now, I'm compounding that embarassment by sharing it with the world.

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