Infrastructure

If you think about it, the amount of infrastructure that exists in our lives, without our noticing, is deeply impressive. And I’m not even talking about just the cellular network, as demonstrated by the lovely picture of a cell tower above. (Those are surprisingly easy to photograph in a way that makes them look good.) There’s more to it than that.

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Think about it. Little things, like the road that leads up to your house.IMG_0856

The fact that said road has power lines running alongside it.IMG_0862

Think about how many miles of copper wire there are in this country, carrying the electricity that we don’t even notice the existence of anymore to everywhere that our lives take us.IMG_0866

And yeah, the rail network is in serious need of an upgrade, but it’s still a massive system that moves billions of tons of freight every year. It was a massive construction project, involving hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars. And yet, in the U.S., at least, very little thought is ever given to how impressive a work that is.IMG_0876

Traffic control, everything from stop signs to complicated intersections, requires a lot of thought to design, contrary to popular belief.IMG_0880

Something I learned in physics: roads are banked rather frequently. And there isn’t really a standard for how much they should be banked: the decision of what angle is based upon a mixture of expected conditions, the local speed limit (with allowances made for people who ignore said speed limits), maximum size and weight of vehicles, and how sharp a turn is to be made. And then most people don’t even notice that the road banks at all. If you get a chance, look at the angle of a curve on the freeway sometime.IMG_0881

People may not like that it’s done, but the clearing out of massive amounts of land and forest makes transportation possible. Think about how much work went into building any pass over a mountain range, or bridge over a ravine.IMG_0890IMG_0898 IMG_0902 IMG_0910Spend some time thinking about how much effort has gone into building the world that you live in. It is both awe-inspiring and humbling.

 

(And, as always: click on the pictures to see them full-size. I’ve given up on fancy metadata, I take too many pictures for that to work.)