Thursday, July 23, 2009

Traffic Snafus

Those who have to endure long commutes are often familiar with traffic jams. Given their levels of stress when they find themseleves stuck in one, they would not likely be pondering the physics of traffic jams. They might find little consolation in learning that in scientific terms "A traffic jam is simply a solid made up of idling cars" or that if they could drive like ants they may have respite from traffic.

The triggers for traffic snarls can apparently range from plain old rubbernecking to
ghost sightings. The physics of gridlocks is a much written about topic - in this old Atlantic article, the author suggests that the surest remedy would require some 1984-esque measures.

Preventing flow breakdowns in a nonlinear, chaotic world could ultimately require realizing an Orwellian idea that has been suggested from time to time: directly controlling the speed and spacing of individual cars along a highway with central computers and sensors that communicate with each car's engine and brake controls.

Over at the Halfbakery idea factory someone has come up with the idea of laying conveyors over highways so the element of chaos and randomness in traffic patterns is eliminated and with it the bane of commuters around the world - the gridlock.

No comments: