25 May 2011

Not Curious

Imprint: Daily Heller | Steven Haller | A Curious Similarity

I don’t want to trivialize the inhumane horrors that African slaves endured on slave ships (above) destined for the Americas. But after a recent airplane trip, sitting tightly next to my neighbor in steerage seats, I feel the discomfort and pain endemic to the current air experience has certain curious similarities.

Ever notice how similar the seating plans of airplanes resemble the more horrific layout (yet efficient design of those slave ships)? Could airplane designers be unconsciously influenced by them?
No. One thousand times no.

This is about as curious as the observation that reams of paper and cinder blocks and cases of wine get packed on to pallets in roughly the same way. Which is to say, it's not curious at all. Comparing airliners to slave ships is about as relevant as claiming I should build a shed out of wine, or feed bricks into my printer.

Function constrains form. Sailing ships and jetliners are both trying to move through fluids, so their general shape ought to be the same: long, rounded on the front, perhaps slightly tapered. They're also trying to move physical objects efficiently (whether whether those objects are willing or not). That almost always means you put things in rows. (Unless the objects in question are spherical, then hexagonal packings can also be used. Also assuming we're in three dimensions here; higher dimensional closest packing problems give me headaches.) I challenge you to design an efficient plane that doesn't put passengers in rows. Go ahead.

Via The World's Best Ever

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