THIS is amazing: an explanation of what keeps train cars on the track. I had no idea. It’s such a simple concept once it’s explained, but so subtle. And it explains why the top of train rails are curved instead of flat.
Feynman is just awesome.
Originally shared by Ian Bicking
Feynman describes how train wheels work. It surprised me.
The concept is clever (I’ll let you watch the video to understand), but I don’t understand why train wheels need to be locked to each other? Or is the behavior beneficial because it banks the train on curves? But it’s not much of a bank. It also seems like it puts more of a limit on train curves than would otherwise be necessary. How then do tight-turning trains (like many trams) work?
Oh course Wikipedia knows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Difference_between_train_and_tram_rails – apparently trams will ride up on their flange for tight curves. How odd. Apparently there are other designs (noted at the bottom of that article) but how they manage tight curves is unclear to me.
My mechanically minded dad worked for the railroad. Now I’ve got a riddle for him. Thanks!
Ha! I now understand why my brother-in-law’s company makes machines to refurbish train wheels.
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