Justin Li



Last week's question was: if a car's wheels fit perfectly on train tracks, and the wheels have no tires, does the car needs to be steered?

Here's what I think. If you visit science museums, you may remember seeing a demonstration where there were parallel downhill tracks, and you could try different shapes of wheels to keep the axle on the track on its way downhill. The winner is the wheels where the inner diameter of each wheel is larger than the outer. This means that there is an equilibrium point in the middle where the axle sits very well. Unlike the opposite case where the outer diameter is larger than the inner diameter, the train wheels push the axle to keep it in the center of the track, and not pull it on two sides.

This image gives a better idea of what I'm talking about.

Car wheels, without tires, are similarly shaped. Here's an image I found of the wheel, and you can see it also has a rim on the inside edge. The progression from center to the rim is not as smooth as on train wheels, but as long as there is some protrusion it should hold the car in place on the tracks.

Which means, like trains, if a car does go on tracks without tires, and it fits the track perfectly, it will not need to be steered.

For this week, I have one and a half questions:

The title of this post is "???". Blogspot gives a link each individual post,but removes any punctuation, so that "Question of the Week?" ends up at question-of-week.html (I guess they remove common words too). So what happens if the title was only punctuation? Click on the title of this post to find out.

Here's the real question. Humans have 5 senses: sight, hearing, touch (which can be subdivided into pain, heat, and so on), smell, and taste. Of these 5, language is expressed for sight (reading/writing), hearing (listening/speaking), and touch (Braille). What would a language based on the olfactory (smell) or gustatory (taste) systems be like, and seeing that we haven't developed one, why is it impractical?