16 March 2006

Counterintuitive safety

Lovely short science programme about safety chutes on BBC Radio 4 this afternoon (listen again only available for a week, I think). The reporter, Dylan Winter, tries out a demonstration airplane escape hatch and, to his bemusement, finds that it opens inwards, rather than out. There’s practical sense in this; a plane could be lodged against objects that would block an outward opening hatch. But it’s not intuitive and clearly wasn't signalled on the hatch itself. The Cranfield safety expert hosting the demonstration, Professor Helen Muir, reprimands Winter for not having read the safety instruction sheet properly. Read the instructions? We’re talking about human behaviour here.

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