What's with the
mask? He's not fool enough to give up his day job, that's what!
the difference between an Engineer and a Scientist?
This is a great question. The
answer is simple. Scientists make a huge project out of overanalyzing
a phenomenon. Engineers get paid to solve problems, often with a
minimum of analysis. We know who wins more Nobel prizes... but most
everything that really matters was developed by an engineer. Including
the hair combover!
Case in point. About 15 years
ago, there was a letter in the prestigious MIT
Technology Review, which used to be an alumni journal but was
remade into a for-profit 'zine in 1999. The article described one
man's quest to determine the root cause of why his shower curtain
was blowing inward when he took a hot shower. This man, although
it did not state so, was obviously a scientist, not an engineer.
Struggling with an affectionate
shower curtain each morning, he postulated a least couple of theories
about what was going on. If memory serves, his favorite theory was
that convection currents were creating some type of chimney draft
from floor to ceiling, which, through Bernoulli's principle, caused
a low-pressure zone on the inside surface of the shower curtain.
But how to prove the theory?
He came up with a measurement
technique that he no-doubt considered ingenious. Before he turned
on the shower, he stationed some lighted candles all over his bath
tub, and presumed that by watching the direction that the flames
flickered, he could deduce the direction of local wind currents
and fit the data to a model. I don't believe he arrived at any conclusion,
his letter was clearly a cry for help.
An engineer would see that this
is wrong on many levels. What kind of fool would expect candles
to stay lit once the shower is cranked up? Is a shower curtain made
of flammable material, and why might this be important? Was he wearing
a waterproof lab smock during the experiment, or must we envision
his hairy butt as he bent down to observe the flickering candles?
What kind of "journal" would publish this nonsense? Is
this MIT alumni living in a sheltered environment, or is he allowed
to interact with normal people?
(I'm still working
on this section...)
Many fine thinkers
have considered the problem of "shower curtain drift"...
Searching the USPTO site, there are several patents that attempt
to overcome this problem. One is for a shower curtain with pocket
that collect water, to weight it down: US 6,591,432 Feinstein ,
et al. July 15, 2003 "Anti-drift shower curtain having water-collecting
Here's one that has sand in the
bottom for weight: 6,550,525 Grisolia April 22, 2003 "Sand-weighted
A shower curtain has a bottom hem that forms a closed pocket.
Sand is contained in the closed pocket and provides weight to
the shower curtain so the curtain does not blow away from the
side of a tub during a shower.
and another one... 6,510,566
Bryce January 28, 2003, Shower
This stuff makes
a "real engineer" want to scream, "Dudes, you are
all morons!" We know that the problem has been solved already,
less than one shower out of 10 does this annoying trick. The MIT
alumnus was asking the wrong question. Instead of "why does
this happen?", he should ask "what am I doing wrong here?"
The answer to the latter question
is in how his shower curtain rod was aligned with the tub. If you
have it aligned to the inside of the tub, the installer was a fool.
Gravity does not give the curtain enough restraint to keep it from
blowing inward; this also leaves less room for shower activities.
You wouldn't know this if you attended MIT... probably all of their
showers are configured this way!
The proper way to
align a shower curtain rod is plumb to the outside of the tub. Do
this and you will NEVER have the curtain blow around, because gravity
will hold it in place. Plus, you have more room for shower fun!
"But that looks
stupid" I hear someone from MIT say. You are right. That is
why showers are meant to use a shower curtain, and a separate
shower curtain liner, you cheapskate. Consider that the curtain
is allowed to drape vertically outside the tub, as shown below.
This is the full solution, which is know to most people with below-average
IQ and no college education.
Remember, an engineer
solves problems, and doesn't waste time looking for esoteric explanations
for nature's quirks. This weekend when you are looking for something
to do, have a look at your shower curtain rod alignment, and share
the magic that is Microwaves101.
Now get back to
out the Unknown Editor's archives
when you are looking for a way to screw off for an hour or so!