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I Wonder Why...?

I will be writing about aspects of Spanish history and their traditions. I am a very curious person and have always needed to know "why" they do it, and "how" it came about. So over the years while living in Spain I have made a conscious effort to discover "el porque de las cosas" and I will be sharing them with you. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.

How Spain revolutionised the Train
28 November 2018

Ever wondered why Spain has one of the best railroad systems in the world and always has had?

Well, it’s because they effectively invented “modern” rail travel and have been innovating for decades.

The “Tren Articulada Ligero Goicoechea Oriols” (TALGO) appeared in the 40’s and is considered the first “modern train” in history. It was a revolutionary train, in design and function that concentrated on aerodynamics, style and comfort with speed for the first time. The first time it was revealed it must have created a real stir, similar to a futuristic prototype car being revealed at a car show.

 

 

However, Talgo trains are best known for their unconventional articulated railway passenger car that uses a type similar to the Jacobs bogie that Talgo patented in 1941. The wheels are mounted in pairs but not joined by an axle and the bogies are shared between coaches rather than underneath individual coaches. This allows a railway car to take a turn at higher speed with less swaying. As the coaches are not mounted directly onto wheel bogies, the coaches are more easily insulated from track noise.  For many decades TALGO dominated the world market controlling event eh North American railroad market from the 60’s through to the 80’s, in fact many trains still running today are TALGO’s. Alejandro Goicoechea was the creator of this train that changed the face of rail travel globally. The Talgo I was built in 1942 in Spain. The coaches were built at the "Hijos de Juan Garay Fábrica" in Oñati and the locomotive was built at the workshops of the "Compañia de Norte" in Valladolid. It was built as a prototype, and it was used to set several railroad speed records.

Talgo II coaches and locomotives were first built in 1950 at the American Car and Foundry Company (ACF) works in the United States under the direction of Spanish engineers, and entered service on the Rock Island Line, servicing the Jet Rocket train, between Chicago and Peoria, Illinois. One was also trialled on the New York Central Railroad until 1958 but saw little success. Talgos were also built for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad for its "John Quincy Adams" train from (New York City to Boston, Massachusetts), and the Boston and Maine Railroad for its "Speed Merchant" train, running between (Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine). Soon afterwards, Talgo II trains began running in Spain, and were successfully operated until 1972.

TALGO continued to develop trains and is still one of the major contenders in the global market. Today they manufacture all types of trains including the Talgo 350, which entered service as the RENFE AVE marking the company's entry into the high-speed train manufacturing market. Tests with the prototype commenced in 1994 and Talgo 350 trains have been operating at a top commercial speed of 330 km/h since 22 December 2007.  It has recently launched a very high-speed train called the AVRIL (Alta Velocidad Rueda Independiente Ligero - Light Independent Wheel High Speed), which can travel at 380km/h.

 

 

Things have moved on a bit, haven't they?



Like 1        Published at 15:44   Comments (6)


Thinking in a second language makes us more rational
15 November 2018

Ever heard this as a child? : “What language do you need me to use so you’ll pay attention?”

It turns out that there is some truth behind the question. A series of recent scientific studies suggests that we think and make decisions differently if we process the information in a language other than our mother tongue.

Even if we grasp the notion equally well in both languages, our final decision on the matter will tend to be better thought out, less emotional and more results-oriented.

A leading expert  on bilingualism at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Albert Costa, believes it is good for deliberative thinking; it makes you think twice about things.

Costa began his research with the tramway dilemma: would you push someone onto the tracks if that death were to save the lives of five other people? The moral conflict involved in sending someone to their death appears to vanish when the question is put to subjects in a language other than their mother tongue.

The proportion of people willing to sacrifice a person for the larger good shot up from 20% to nearly 50%, with the only difference being that they processed the question in a second language.

It appears that processing information in a foreign language makes us less prone to emotional thinking and more focused on efficient results. We become less moralistic and more utilitarian.

The research also finds that thinking in another language increases our tolerance for risk-taking on anything from planning a trip to embracing a new breakthrough in biotechnology.

As the Nobel winner Daniel Kahneman explains, our brain seems to have a System 1, which focuses on fast, instinctive and stereotypic thinking, and a System 2, which deals with issues requiring greater consideration.

In our native language, we may be more prone to using System 1, while the additional effort required for thinking in a foreign language might trigger System 2. This could explain the higher percentage of people who overcome loss aversion and moral dilemmas in a foreign language.

For instance, these insights might be useful during negotiations that require participants to put their personal feelings to one side and focus on the greater good.

 

 

 



Like 1        Published at 14:20   Comments (0)


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