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Published September 11, 2020

The power of standards

The power of standards

Have you ever wondered why railroads are the width they are? US railroads are 4 feet 8 ½ inches in width, this may seem like an odd measurement, but there is actually a very good reason for it.

The reason is that the railroads in the US was designed by British engineers, and they used this measurement.

So why 4 feet 8 ½ inches? Well that’s the width that was used in Europe for axles on horse drawn carriages, and the first train axles used the same jigs. Anything different would cause the axles on a cart to break, because that was the distance between the ruts on the roads, and had been that way since the Roman chariots dug them into those Roman roads thousands of years ago.

Julius Caesar set this axel distance to ensure that all chariots were the same size, simply to increase reliability as ruts formed on roads. Today we still use the same gauge!

Can you imagine how the standards we set today will impact people thousands of years from now? Maybe pan dimensional beings a million years from now on the other side of the universe will still be using double spacing separators on their code, something to consider.

Standards have a way of sticking around!