High school learned us to rely on knowledge so much we sometimes forgot to use our common sense. Our maths teacher’s way of dealing with this was to relate the story of the big bolts.
During his study his instructor asked him to determine what bolts and nuts would be needed to attach a bridge pillar to its base. After calculating for two hours he came up with the perfect answer: 10 bolts of 4 millimeters in diameter would do the job nicely. They would even hold out in case of an epic earthquake. Proudly he turned in his results.
“Great job,” the instructor complimented him “it ain’t gonna work, though.”
“How’s that?” my teacher asked, a little taken aback.
“Let me ask you a question, ” the instructor replied, “have you ever met people who work on these bridges?”
Pictures of huge men with hands like shovels and 15 inch wrenches loomed before his eyes.
“Sure.” he answered “What of them?”
“Can you picture one of them handling these 4 millimeter bolts of yours?” The instructor paused for effect. “Or ten of them?”
My teacher couldn’t. He had used his knowledge, but not his common sense.
“So next time, what kind of bolts would you use?”
So now you know the impressive bolts in this picture are that impressive mostly for an ergonomic reason. My guess is they’re probably there too to instill some sense of security to laymen like me …