Physical phenomenon can not only be used as a valuable architectural training aid but they are also useful for management training, especially handy when trying to free up budgets!
I was talking yesterday about designing power supplies for TV monitors and some of the hazards associated with that. Testing 25Kv power supplies and CRT’s was a hazardous job involving a lot of Perspex, nylon string (to pull switches), rubber gear (not really necessary but when was the last time you got to buy rubber clothing on expenses?!) and standing a long way back (it’s amazing how far a 25Kv spark will jump). To this end we had a big test rig which we could plug the CRT’s into.
I was working with a new, very small CRT tube designed to go into a head up display (very cool for games) on the test rig and got a nasty shock despite the rubber gear. I always had a standard process to go through when something nasty like this happened, starting off with a sit down with a cup of strong tea. After a lot of thought I decided that there was something wrong with the tube itself which was causing a leakage to the test ring and hence to me. Donning even more rubber (!) and returning to the lab I reran the test, sure enough I got another belt. Clearly we needed to get a new CRT. The snag was that this was a hand built prototype which had taken ages to make and cost the earth. Off to see my manager.
The first thing my manager said was: “Why are you dressed like that?” I had forgotten to take off the rubber gear. Next thing, after I explained the problem, was “We can’t afford a new tube, it must be something you are doing wrong” which was an interesting piece of managementese, so breathtaking in its illogicality that it’s hard to argue with. I suggested that he tried the same test himself and so off he went to the lab. I trailed along to see the fun. Sure enough he ran up the test rig, there was a bang and he was thrown back across the lab (the rubber gear was a good idea after all). After I picked him up he said “order a new CRT and hang the budget, I’m going home” which he proceeded to do.
So whilst I wouldn’t recommend electrocuting your management to get a budget increase it certainly works!