COMPLEXITY

10/9/2021   

As an engineer looks at a “simple” problem, it becomes mired with obstacles created by past installations. When someone years ago found a solution, after many expensive failures, the finished product worked fine for a while. Then, the shit hits the propeller. Either the solution affected other critical components, or someone got injured or killed. This set off an invading army of annoying lawyers that drove a beachhead landing onto the responsible corporation’s headquarters. The end result are changes in designs that prevent a recurrence, thus creating the roadblocks for the next generation of designers. As the engineer formulates a solution to the customer’s wishes, every path he takes will violate a physical law or become economically unfeasible very quickly. Faced with all these barriers, the professional must thread his idea through a maze of restrictions and somehow pull off the end goal. An example of this type of complexity is a rocket scientist. Taking a tube and filling it with a fuel and an oxidizer is, in reality, a stick of dynamite. He must figure out how to keep the combustion chamber and exhaust nozzle from melting at temperatures exceeding 5,000°F. He also has to solve extremely high-pressure problems in order to push the fuel into the higher-pressure rocket burn. Also contained in the complexity issues are: fuel separation and mixing, total weight of the assembly, vibrational forces, thermal loading, launching structures, pressure containment, system control and coordination, efficiencies, strength of materials, cooling, steering, and a host of other problems that change as 1 changes the design. The end result is: an accelerating, high speed cylinder on an accurate trajectory, with a very destructive warhead attached, heading for a collection of humans and their engineered machinery half a world away. Just take out these bad guys with an autonomous armed drone and their mechanical threats to your own well-being will just disappear. SIMPLE!

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