Monday, July 9, 2007

'Train'ing Time

A train journey provides a whole engineering case study in itself. Starting from the mechanics of train boarding to finding yourself a seat, the train journey provides ample opportunity for the mind to set into application several of its engineering principles. For example, how many times have we tried to figure out that old problem of where the train will stop, given its initial velocity and braking speed?

Seat finding provides a whole new mathematical model study in itself.. starting from probability and statistics, I try every single method possible to ensure I am standing right next to the seat which will be empty in another moments time.. ofcourse, nothing provides better results than relying on plain old luck!.. or better still, worth taking the risk is the seat that is guaranteed to be always empty, called the 'footboard'. It comes with an additional non-ticket charge, also called a 'fine'.

Ofcourse, it is impossible to solve some of the harder problems, like why the food always turns up at the wrong time. The key is to realising that you should feel hungry at the right time, and sleep the rest of the journey. Like they say, 'A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush', so eat when the opportunity comes.. The toilet is nearby for any emergency cases that may arise after all..

Then there are the indeterminate problems like "Is my body balanced enough to sleep, or will I end up sleeping on the guy next to me.."? What would really save money would be if one could figure out the exact position of the TTR on the train, which may be labelled as a standard mechanics problem of movement combined with a thrilling random human factor. Alternate techniques include Avoiding the ticket by learning to go to the toilet at the right time, or deciding to get off the train right. Or, better still, you could buy a ticket! But whatever be the case- be sure to keep your engineering mind open.. there are problems to solve out there!