The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Engineering Porn

Jim says the fault lasted 20 milliseconds before breakers tripped. (The breakers for a wire like this are pretty amazing in their own right. They use high pressure gas to blow out the arc as the circuit begins to open. Anything that can cut off this number of megawatts [230kV at about 700 amps –Sean] in 20 ms gets my respect.) It blew carbonized oil about 3000 feet down the pipe to either side of the fault. (Compute velocity … )

engineering pornography

The term “pornography” here is used in the sense of “more detail than you ever wanted to know” rather than “lewd sexual content” (much like CNN is “news porn” and the Food Channel is “food porn”). And I find such engineering feats fascinating, primarily because such engineering feats have to be done right or you waste tons of money (it's not to say that engineering mishaps don't happen—the space shuttle Challenger, Three Mile Island and Bhopal come to mind but given the extent of our infrastructure those events are probably rare. As Feynman said, “You can't fool nature.”). And I can't but help marvel at the inginuity used, such as using liquid nitrogen to freeze the oil dielectric to form ad-hoc end caps in the pipe so it could be repaired since the oil used is very expensive and a large enough reserve of oil could not be found in time, or using a car battery and a millivoltometer to locate the short.

Obligatory Picture

[“I am NOT a number, I am … a Q-CODE!”]

Obligatory Contact Info

Obligatory Feeds

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2024 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.