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Black ice kills electric transportation across Czechia

Up to the end of November, Czechia managed to avoid any snow and ice in 2014. I haven't recorded the weather in any detail but I think that for several years, we didn't have such a late arrival of the winter.

In Fall 2014, it wasn't really "warm" but the temperatures managed to stay above the freezing point all the time.

Well, it's dangerous to extrapolate.

From the last night on, i.e. since December 1st, Czechia's transportation system has been crippled by black ice. It's the first time in the history of electric trams in Prague (which began in 1891; not counting horse-driven trams since 1875) when all the trams – electric streetcars – in Prague were suspended. Trams were stopped in Olomouc as well; Brno sent buses instead of trolley buses. In total, black ice hasn't been equally or more consequential for 30 years or so.

Hundreds of trains were stopped. The passengers are being told about various laws that force the employers to tolerate their being late, or their not being at work at all.

Ice in Prague one hour ago. Incidentally, I am surprised by the percentage of the communist-era trams (Tatra T3 or its newer variation K2: incidentally, Tatra T3 is the most popular tram species in the world) that are still operating in our wealthy capital. Yes, I am trying to promote the new Škoda trams from Pilsen. Don't get me wrong: the elevated density of the trams in the videos isn't business-as-usual. ;-)

Of course, just to be sure, the crippling black ice doesn't mean that it's exceptionally cold. Instead, it means that the weather is skillfully oscillating around the freezing point. If you don't understand the problem: it's not just the tracks that get slippery. The wires at the top get encapsulated in ice as well – and you know, ice isn't an excessively good conductor if I have to avoid the insensitive, excessive, and politically incorrect slur "insulator" ;-), so it is hard for the trams and trains to get the juice out of the wire.

Homework for you: would it be possible to melt the ice around the tracks and around the wires by some electric current? What voltage or current would you recommend and how much would it cost? ;-)

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snail feedback (23) :

reader Tom said...

Apparently, Gene, you are not a sports fan. Official times in the 100 meter sprint comprise an extremely high fidelity data set. I haven’t ferreted out the data myself, but I have seen it written many times that the fastest 1000 times recorded in the 100 meters all belong to men of West African descent. Say the actual number is half that, about 500, then the binomial theorem gives something like 10^-500 for the probability that such an occurrence is by chance alone. By what appears to be your reasoning - noting any differences between “races” - I suppose you take me for a racist and a fool too.

reader Uncle Al said...

Global Warming's validations are tests of faith. God so loved the Dark Ages that He mightily smote His most ardent believers, ditto the Black Plague, Crusades, Inquisition, Hitler's camps, Turks versus Armenians, Vlad Tepes versus Turks, and the occasional tour bus stuffed with devout young Christians messily splattered on a freeway.

If you do not believe, you will be hit. If you do believe, you will be hit harder. Fill that collection plate!

reader Gene Day said...

I recall that Portland, Oregon, where my wife and I lived for eleven years, bought some light-rail cars from Czechia. They were of the low-floor type and very nice. They must have been made by Skoda.
Here in Marin County, CA, we never get icing conditions but it did happen occasionally in Portland.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Aren't you missing snow and ice, sometimes, Gene? ;-)

Yes, the new Portland fleet is made of Škoda-Inekon "Astra" 10 T, produced here in Pilsen.


reader Shannon said...

John, you are really going the hard way here. I feel bad for Gene. He is a gentle man.

reader John Archer said...

For the overhead feed, install trace heating. For the rails, get the Romans in to knock you up a networked hypocaust. Burn lots of coal to power the lot and conscript greentards to work the bellows.

My consultancy bill's winging its way to you right now. :)

reader cynholt said...

Had Dr. Watson said that black people are more physically able and have more muscle mass than white people, I dare bet there wouldn't have been a murmur.

That's because blacks define racism directed at them as stating anything bad or negative about them. Stating anything good or positive about them isn't racism in their book.

Only a super race can be the very best in terms of both intelligence and physical strength. I guess if blacks as a whole are aspiring to be a super race, then they are also aspiring to be Nazis as well -- a scary thought indeed.

reader John Archer said...

"I feel bad for Gene. He is a gentle man."

Right. Just as the nice gentle folk were in days of old — peacefully gathered to cheer on at all those righteous witch burnings, and at the midweek matinées for heretics.

Honza put up a nice explanation of the psychotic phenomenon a few days ago. I forget which thread right now.

One other thing: who was it that started with the 'gentle' name calling?

"Also I have noticed that we don't hear you when I boldly have a go at the jews ;). Why is that I wonder ?"

Unh? I'm afraid that one's a little too subtle for me, Shannon. Frankly, I don't know what to make of it. Could you expand on it a little please my dear, i.e. in clearspeak already. :)

By the way, it was very nice of them to name that big river after you in Ireland. Have you got the fishing rights too? Mmmmmm salmon! :)

reader NikFromNYC said...


reader Shannon said...

If this Watson had said something naughty but true about the jews rather than the blacks, I wonder what reactions we would have seen
I like salmon too, grilled with a bit of lemon. However my favourite dish is, by far, the Algerian couscous. I miss this small restaurant in Montparnasse held by an Algerian family. Maybe I should try salmon in a couscous ?

reader john said...

What kind of naughty thing you are talking about ? I am really asking.

reader Tom said...

Maybe something like this: How is it that Ashkenazi Jews, making up something less that 1% of the world’s population, fill out huge percentages of those groups at the highest levels of intellectual achievement - science, music, literature, law and medicine. Could it be that Jews taken as a group - a race - are simply more intelligent than other races? No, that would be racist to hold such thoughts and we can’t have that. Rather, it must be pure chance that something like half the faculty of the best math and physics departments at the universities are Jews.

reader scooby said...

Yes please do tell Shannon, what are talking about?

reader Shannon said...

Tom and Scoobydoo, LOL. Jews are definitely more intelligent than you two. Honestly you are such well tamed goys ! You are saying that you are inferior ?! Honestly ? Anyways speak for yourselves guys. To say things like that you must have had it deep, men... Sorry to see that, no really... By the way the best mathematicians (Fields medal) this year were Iranian, Brazilian, Austrian and Canadian, none of them were jew. OMG! Is Fields medal anti semit ?
Overall the Jews are no more intelligent than the pygmies (but more than you), they are just very loud, and organised.

reader Philip Weisler said...

Just stating obvious facts can be ''racist'' these days. Point out that Jews are overrepresented among Nobel prize winners (esp. science) - you are aracist. Point out that black people are fastest sprinters - racist, again.

reader Shannon said...

John, are you dumb? If Watson said for example... that "jews steal ideas to make it their own" or "jews are all Nazis" then Watson would have seen his bank accounts frozen, his family and descendants would have had to pay for the rest of Eon. Voila.

reader Swine flu said...

Shannon, you are confusing European laws with the American ones. Look up the Wikipedia article about David Duke. He did do prison time in the US for tax fraud, but not for his views.

reader scooby said...

You see, Shannon, every time I think one cannot possibly be that stupid, you prove me wrong. But let us take some of your comments one at a time.

"By the way the best mathematicians (Fields medal) this year were Iranian, Brazilian, Austrian and Canadian, none of them were jew. OMG! Is Fields medal anti semit ?"

Over a quarter of the Fields Medals winners are Jews. That is a very high percentage.

"Overall the Jews are no more intelligent than the pygmies (but more than you), they are just very loud."

I do not know much about pygmies (and have nothing against them), but sometimes I wonder what you are doing on a (mostly)
physics blog. Some names for you: Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Max Born, Julian Schwinger, Robert Oppenheimer, Leó Szilárd, Richard Feynman, Edward Teller, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, Steven Weinberg, Edward Witten. Do any of them ring a bell? All extraordinary physicists, all of Jewish descent (I forgot many).

"Jews are definitely more intelligent than you two. Honestly you are such well tamed goys ! You are saying that you are inferior ?!"

Did I say anything? No I guess you just made it up. But in any case yes I am intellectually inferior to any of the men I have listed above. I have no shame in admitting it since most of us, especially you, are in the same situation.

Well that will be the last exchange I have with you on this blog, because honestly life is too short to waste it replying to trolls like you.

reader cynholt said...

Isn't it strange how someone, who made the greatest breakthrough in biochemistry of the 20th century, was hailed as a genius and awarded a Nobel prize can now be dismissed as a crank because his theory, be it right or wrong, does not fit in with the New Politic of this age? It just shows we haven't really moved on since the age of Copernicus.

reader Csaba said...

While the PC thought police says they do not care about the accomplishment of Watson or anyone else they try to tar, they actually do care very much. They apply far more thought policing to accomplished or influential people - it happens to be a sensible policy for them, alas.

reader Swine flu said...

Racial superiority was used to justify slavery in the US and elsewhere, colonial-era genocides (e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herero_and_Namaqua_Genocide ), and what transpired in WWII, and not just with the Jews.

Given that history, it is not inappropriate that rank racism should be dealt with rather harshly. Some of the German academics of pre-WWII era also contributed to human knowledge, but were in other respects disgusting human beings. One can very much coexist with the other - even a top-notch ability in science is not a moral virtue.

The problem is that racism and bigotry are often not dealt with uniformly nowadays, and that's where political correctness kicks in and is destructive of the very tolerance Western Societies like to preen about. Tolerating intolerance, so long as it comes from supposedly oppressed groups, is nothing to be proud of and is to be resisted. Nor should one try to deny nature and have quotas for various groups in the jobs where such quotas will all but guarantee inferior workforce. Color-blindiness, however, where individual's qualities is all that matters, is something to strive for, at least for the long haul.

reader John Archer said...

Once more re: "<>Also I have noticed that we don't hear you when I boldly have a go at the jews ;). Why is that I wonder ?"

Ah! I get it now, Shannon, given your other replies here. You want to know if I'm a Jew? Right?


OK, I have to tell you that it's like this: no, I'm not. :)

Moreover, given my family history, it is highly unlikely that any of my forebears, at least from my grandparents and back, ever saw one let alone shook hands or, much less, did the horizontal jig with any. And given that Cromwell only let them back in sometime in the 17th century (three or four hundred years after Longshanks had kicked them all out, and prior to which they were all pretty much corralled up anyway as I understand it), on the slimmest of slim chances that I do have any Jewish blood in me, I'd say you'd have to go back at least to Roman times to find the bugger responsible.

Now, does that fully answer your unstated question?

On the other I do know at least a handful of Yids personally though, some of whom I count as friends. Does that count? Am I tainted? :)

Which reminds me, and is slightly more on topic:

Adam an Eve were chatting in the Garden of Eden and got to discussing whether they were black or white but as neither of them could figure out which they began to get very worried. Finally, Adam had a brainwave: "I know how to sort this out — I'll go and ask God."

So off he trotted to consult with God.

On his return he smiled at Eve and said, "All is fine, Eve. Relax — we're white!"

"Oh thanks heavens for that," she said, "I couldn't bear to be black!"

But she was still curious and wanted to know all the ins and outs, as women do, so she asked Adam how his encounter went.

Adam said that he just asked God straight, "Are we black or white, Lord?"

Eve said, "Yeah, well go on — what did He say?"

Adam shrugged and said He simply replied, "You are what you are."

At which point Eve got very agitated and expressed her concern: "Well, what the fuck does that mean? I mean He didn't say one fucking way or the other then, did He, you stoopid putz!"

Adam took her hand, smiled gently at her and said, "Calm down my dear. It's very simple. Had we been black he would have said, "You is what you is.""

Then they skipped off happily together for their afternoon shag in the orchard. And the rest is history. :)

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