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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pop Goes The Tyre

I had planned to blog about my visit to a nature park last weekend, but something unusual suddenly popped up this evening.

A tyre, in fact.

Though nothing serious, seeing a bus tyre pop just below me is a fairly uncommon experience, so you get to hear about it!

This is what happened.

I got on a double-decker bus during the evening rush hours and went to the upper deck.

At first the bus was nearly empty, but as it neared the destination it was jam-packed with people who had just gotten off work.

I was looking down on the left side of the bus when suddenly I felt a slight rumble.

Then *WHOOSH* a tyre jumped out onto the road!

It actually rolled alongside for a few seconds, just like in those video games!


Anyway, the bus driver must have felt it (or felt the controls getting sluggish), because he pulled the vehicle aside and gradually brought it to a halt.

He then hopped out to take a quick look at the damage. I could see from his disappointed expression that he knew this would be a long evening.

Some people weren't sure what was going on.

I turned to inform the poker-faced passenger next to me that we just lost a tyre.

He removed his earphones.

"We just lost a tyre," I said again.

I'm not sure if he understood me or not, because he simply stuffed the earphones back into his ears without changing his facial expression.

A true blue Singaporean!

Well, apathy or no apathy, the bus clearly wasn't going anywhere, so I went to the lower deck.

The bus driver was busily issuing complimentary tickets for the passengers to catch the next bus.

I took one and went outside to look at the busted tyre.

Here's one reason why you should carry a camera wherever you go:

As you can see from the photo, the bus was practically running on the metal rim of the broken tyre for the past hundred metres or so.

Despite a full load of passengers the vehicle did not exhibit any noticeable tilt after the tyre burst - testament to its sound design.

On closer inspection you can see what appears to be the shredded remains of an inner tube. I was a little surprised to see this because I thought that modern car tyres no longer have a separate inner tube.

Maybe it's different for buses.

Oh and you can also see a spot of silver on the rear corner of the wheel well. I'll come back to this later.

Stuck on the side of the road, the bus driver dutifully issued complimentary tickets while expressionless passengers filed silently out of the bus.

People were walking ahead to catch another bus, but your good narrator walked in the opposite direction instead.

Why? I could have sworn that I saw one whole tyre jump out onto the road, but if the bus used tyres with integral inner tubes, then maybe it was simply a large broken fragment.

To check that my eyes were not fooling me, I walked about a hundred metres back.

Scanning the left side of the road, I could only find some scraps of torn rubber.

But when I looked at the central divider...

... there it was, the intact outer layer of the tyre looking rather forlorn as rush hour traffic passed it by.

Some passing vehicle must have kicked it onto the central divider.

What's more interesting are the purple-coloured marks on the tyre. When I was at the scene I had no idea where they came from.

Later while examining these photos at home, I saw the silver patch in the rear corner of the wheel well and realized that the poor tyre must have been jabbed by the sharp corner after it burst, scuffing off the paintjob and leaving tell-tale purple marks on its surface.

The potential energy stored in the tyre when it was caught between the wheel well corner and the road would have wound it up like spring, causing it to jump away from the bus.

Hey this sounds a little like that CSI show!


Anonymous said...

enjoyed reading this! a good narrator indeed,keep it up-LH

Anonymous said...

Did you end up going to the nature park like you wanted?

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To LH,

Thank you!

To Anon 2:41,

Yes, I went on Sunday, before this incident. I took many pretty photos and I'll blog about it once I'm free.

aulddwone said...

Looking forward to your nature park blog.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Aulddwone:

Welcome to Fresh Brainz. The blog article is up!