God Save Our Queen

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I just now realized that Gandhi took full advantage of the “14% synchronous subversion factor” before it was even documented as such.

The 14% actually came from a capacity study of the phone system in the 80’s. The switching equipment that ran the phone system only handled a certain number of concurrent connections. It could not handle everyone in a city picking up the phone at the same time. It could handle up to 14% of the people. Once that number of people picked up the phone, the central office would run out of connections to give a dial tone and accept rotary or touchtone dialing. This is why, sometimes during disasters (earthquakes, etc), you pick up the phone and get a very fast bust tone or a recorded message. Everyone is trying to dial out of or into the disaster area. The closer you are (or your dialed number is) to the epicenter, the less chance of being able to get through.

The same principle also works for other services and technologies that have limited “bandwidth.” Your local bank branch does not house all of the cash people could withdraw. If more than some number (maybe not the 14% of the phone system, but probably a very similar number) of people tried to withdraw their money in cash, the bank would run out of money and not be able to make more withdrawals. Hence, the worry of the banks during the Y2K scare–not everyone would be able to withdraw their money as cash. Fortunately, not everyone did (personally, I withdrew a few hundred in ones, just in case).

Still, it works with many things in limited quantities…including the number of arresting officers vs. the number of protesters.

Posted in: Dear Diary

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