### UK Vs US: who actually does the maths?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Junkyard Wars : One Thread

I'm a fan of the original english version, called scrapheap challenge. The two countries seem to have a different approach to it all. How many of the american teams actually do serious maths during the building? the clips of junkyard wars show lots of calculations going on while the english just weld everything together then duct tape it for good measure

-- Ed Bisdee (swashbuklr@iname.com), December 18, 2000

You can't infer anything from a sample of one. Who calculates, and who just bodges, depends on the team. We took the name NERDS as a bit of truth in advertising, we all consider computing devices an article of clothing, like a watch, keys or leatherman.

Crash and I have had formal engineering training, and have since made our livings that way. It's how we think, and gives us a powerfull tool (analysis, and making tradeoffs) when presented an unfamilliar problem.

If you took away our calculators, it would slow us down, but not stop us. We would still try to predict how something would work, and then compare it against the requirement, before we spent precious time on something that could turn out to be a dead end.

I think the more telling point: We each brought a reference book. We are smart enough to know that we don't know enough. Our "subsidiary brains" that Cathy joked about are made from sheets of ground dead trees, with funny soot marks on them. None of us knew anything about propellors before making the submarine. But we were able to find a propellor table in one of the books, and were able to tell how to best use the one we found. (without a gearbox as it turned out).

In January you will see other American teams, from a wide range of backgrounds. Some may resemble us, others will resemble the british teams just start welding tactics.

Oh yea, we aren't the first ones to bring a calculator onto the set. In the Cannon episode, there was much calculation on both sides done to figure out safe and effective propellant charge sizes.

-- Jeff - The NERDS (dp@the-nerds.org), December 18, 2000.