May 12, 2008

Wheels of a train compartment

A report that landed in the past week on the derailment of a train on a route in a district where such incidents are commonplace quoted a high railway official to explain how the accident had taken place. The official, as reported by the out-of-the-station writer, said all the 48 wheels of the seven compartments had derailed. Forty-eight divided by seven comes to 6.8571 (other digits truncated); the each compartment had an extra, being the odd number, wheel which had already been broken, being in the fraction, by about one-seventh. Writers and editors are always advised a second check if there are numbers. It pays!