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Premonitions of Disaster May 7, 2006

Posted by boltzmann in Uncategorized.
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Well, not premonitions as such.

Sometimes I act out events in my head, and even sometimes find myself mouthing the words I’m saying in them. This is quite weird. Anyway, tonight I imagined one such scene in which I and friends would be in a capsule of the London Eye when the cables would snap and the Eye would fall into the river.

The wheel is supported on a giant 60m-high bipod, “The A-Frame” (it’s more like a capital Lambda frame, really) which hinges at the base, and kept up by the tension in a set of six great steel cables, anchored into a foundation of 1500 tonnes of concrete. But what if the cables were all to snap (I’m not talking about accidents here, folks) and the wheel were to plunge, or more likely smash, into the Thames?

I reckon you’d have the greatest chance of survival if you could press yourself against the Thames side of the capsule as it fell, so that you’d be decelerated at the rate of the wheel, instead of smashing into that wall having previously been in free-fall inside the capsule. Although it wouldn’t be accelerating as fast as the value of g anyway and the rotation about the pivot could mean that you’d be stuck to the roof if it was rotating fast enough.

In fact, no, i reckon you’d start by standing normally, then slide along the floor of the capsule to the Thames-side wall and stay there as it fell.

Anyway, would you survive?

Come to think of it, looking at the Eye, I don’t know if it would collapse. It could just fall with a bit of a crunch onto its loading platform thing, which would balance it, and the hinges would still be there so it wouldn’t fall into the river. Maybe.

Oh, I don’t care, I’m going to bed!

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