Horses to Rockets

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Are you resistant to Change?

No one really likes for the things in their world to change.  However, did you ever think about the consequences of not changing?  While this is not original to me I thought it to be a great example of the ripple effect through time as we either decide not to change or simply don’t pursue it.

Consider this piece of history…

American railroad tracks are 56.5″ wide (the “gauge”) because the English built the first railroads in America and they used that width. Why did they use that width? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. Why did “they” use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that were used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing. 

Why did wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Because older wagon ruts throughout England used that spacing, and if they changed it, wagon wheels would break by either falling into or being forced out of the old ruts, which were 56.5″ wide.

The old ruts were that size because the roads were built by the Romans, who arrived in England in 54 BC and left about 400 AD. Their wagons, and their chariots before their wagons, used that spacing, and that spacing was used all over Europe and wherever Rome conquered, because their wagons used the identical wheel base everywhere. So the modern railroad track width derives from the Roman chariot.

Why was the Roman chariot track width 56.5″?  Because, that was the width of two “standard” Roman horses.  Thus, wagon and horses would fit through the same narrow street.

The impact of these curious dimensions continue today.  A space shuttle sitting on its launch pad has two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs, made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is just wide enough to accommodate a railroad car.  Therefore, the width of the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle is equal to the width of two horses all because no one wanted to change!

What we end up with if we refuse to change are limitations on what we might become and accomplish.  Like the SRBs we could be more powerful and more useful but due to limitations that we allow to be placed upon ourselves, for reasons that we probably don’t even remember, we restrict our own true potential.

Allow the Holy Spirit to mold, shape, remake, and form you into the person that God created you to be and refuse to allow anything to hold you static.


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