Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Monday, April 30, 2007

8600 gallons of flaming fuel

My father in law called Xena to check in about the freeway connector that the tanker truck took out Sunday morning. We live just over a mile away, as the crow flies; it's about 3 miles to get there on the streets.

In my career as a designer of informatics, I'll take an uncomprehensible item and render it perceptable on a human scale. For this tanker full of 8600 gallons of fuel, let's see what fun we can have.

Assuming an average fuel economy of 25 mpg, there were 215,000 miles contained in that truck. Whoops, that's the wrong way; I went from a big number to a bigger number. But check this: the distance from the surface of the earth to the moon is about 235,000 miles. So that tanker was carrying almost enough fuel for a trip to the moon (if you could drive there).

That's still sort of an abstract reference. I can do better.

If a car drove 215,000 miles at freeway speeds, the trip would require just over 21 weeks. So there's one comprehensible reference: the tanker explosion burned up 21 weeks of continuous freeway driving.

I can do even better. Another comprehensible reference is that about 700 cars could fill up on that one fuel load. To make it even more personal, try this: the average driver would fill up their own car for about 15 years on the fuel that got spilled and burnt.

There it is, the best take-away: every full tanker you see on the freeway, represents 15 years worth of full tanks of gas for your car.

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