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What they don't teach you at Soviet engineering school (Avi Belinski)
Microsoft Corp.
(smirk, science)

>From the letters to the editor page of the New York Times, Sept 30, 1990

To The Editor:

	"New Plane Wing Design Greatly Cuts Drag to Save Fuel" (Science Times
Sept. 11) reports that the performance of airplane wings has been 
improved by incorporating small holes to draw off air where the wings 
are subject to turbulence.

	This surprising recipe reminds me of a story that Vladimir Engelhardt, 
the leading Soviet biochemist, told our biochemical delegation to the 
Soviet Union in 1960.  Today's news reports of Soviet economic problems 
may give the story added interest.

	It seems that a newly designed plane lost its right wing in its 
first test flight.  In a test of a second prototype of the same design,
the left wing broke off at the same position.  The manager of the factory 
consulted the wisest, oldest plane designer in the Soviet Union, who 
pondered the problem and advised drilling small holes through both wings,
at 10-centimeter intervals, along the line of cleavage.  The plane then 
flew successfully.

	When asked how he knew that the holes would balance the forces and 
strengthen rather than weaken the wings, the consultant explained that 
some problems are too complex to solve by direct analysis and hence must 
be approached by analogy.  He built on the analogy that Soviet toilet 
paper never tears along the line of perforations.

	Bernard D. Davis
	Boston, Sept. 12, 1990

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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