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The Parable of the Fallen Arches

September 6, 2016

Lyn Bates dreams up various off-beat themes to convey serious messages. From time to time we will publish examples of his humor on the site to show that the subject is far from dull, but live with the intriguing complexities that nature throws at solids handling engineers.

In the beginning there were solids, liquids, and gases. They flowed freely, as milk and honey, even unto the lands of the Pharaohs, where the fields of the Nile brought forth grain in abundance and there were many stores. The people knew not problems of flow, for there were slaves to fetch and carry and to serve the need of their masters.

The Curse
But as the stores grew ever mightier and their product multiplies, even without number, great misfortunes fell upon the people, for solids flow was not smooth -- or reliable -- and the curse of the arches fell among them. And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth because they knew not the cause as the ways of the errant masses surpassed all understanding.

Within their midst arose priests with diverse teachings. With curses and incantations the Hittites and the Hammerites proclaimed that the containers be smote mighty blows. And so it came to pass, they were beaten, even to destruction. But the evil persisted and grew in magnitude. Leaders of the Shaker tribe spoke: “Let vibrations be amongst them.” And so it came to pass that the masses were shook and shaken without mercy, until some solids stood firm for all time. The Numo elders called upon the air in abundance.

The grains flowed and flowed, until the masses spewed without restraint and ran amok with the affliction of fluidity, and there were great floods in the land. The waste, sorrow, and misery knew no bounds. The Flowaid merchants prospered mightily upon the ignorance of the people, the blind led the blind through the troughs of complexity, and the people wept.

The Prophet
But it came to pass in time that a prophet by the name of Jenike arose in the new world of the west. He prayed for man’s understanding to grow, and withdrew unto the barren wilderness of the salt plains, even to the village of Utah, to study the scriptures of the wise men. In long years of toil among sackcloth and ashes, he explored the mysteries of the soils, wherein a great awareness fell upon him, and he say the light, for he then knew the law, and it was good.

"Yea must measure the strength of the soil and know how it slides," he taught. "Only then will the great tables show thy needs. The bulk will yield and the masses will flow, yea, even unto the last grain." He called upon his keen disciple and scribe Johanson, and together they brought forth might tomes in the form of holy scrolls, who's numbers were Bulletin 108 and 123.

The Knowledge
The word spread throughout the lands, to the far corners of the earth, even unto the land under the earth, where strange tribes abide who throw, in their wisdom, curved sticks which ever return to the sender. The fame of the prophet Jenike grew as his work knew no failures. Miracles came to pass, as even when the measured values were not even and the skills of the priests varied, the tables gave wondrous results and there was great joy in the land at these achievements.

Verily I say unto you, that insofar as you have faith and follow in the teaching of Jenike, then your yield will be good and your masses flow. The curse of the arches will no longer abide with you, even unto the final resting place of the great mass flow hopper in the sky.

Lyn Bates is managing director, Ajax Equipment Ltd. He has been in the bulk handling business for many years and kept close to the action in plant, development, and research activities. He has published articles, papers, and books on aspects of solids handling technology. As managing director of Ajax Equipment Ltd in Bolton, UK, Bates finds time to serve on the Bulk Material Handling Committee of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and be a UK representative to the Working Party for Mechanics of Particular Solids of the European Federation of Chemical Engineers. You can contact him at [email protected].

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