The Zeroth Commandment

Today, I witnessed a train wreck.

No, not the metaphorical kind, an actual train wreck. Well, the train itself didn’t wreck so much as demonstrate third grade physics to all onlookers, people like me and another chap who understood what the repeated, urgent long whistle meant and stepped around a wall to find the fellow who apparently didn’t, the truck driver who had left his tail hanging over the tracks.

I’ll spare you the math. Your average freight train has a mass in the ball park of a thousand times that of your typical small semi. At 45 miles per hour or so, its kinetic energy is measured in gigajoules, like the energy content of 200 tonnes of TNT. The truck only still exists because it moved out of the way so rapidly, it didn’t have time to absorb much energy. Even so, the trailer pulled the 20,000 lb cab around about 80 degrees.

Thou shalt not ignore the laws of physics. Really.