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IEEE Spectrum

Issue 6 • June 1989

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  • Managing Murphy's law: engineering a minimum-risk system

    Publication Year: 1989, Page(s):24 - 27
    Cited by:  Papers (4)
    Request permission for commercial reuse | Click to expandAbstract | PDF file iconPDF (575 KB)

    The meanings of 'risk' and 'risk analysis' are examined by the author. The steps to be taken in assessing and quantifying risk are described, and the question of accepting and managing risk is briefly considered. Definitions of terms such as hazard, failure, accident and reliability are given. Two sources of uncertainty, i.e. the laws of chance and human error, are finally discussed using the Pipe... View full abstract»

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  • Aging aircraft: too old to fly?

    Publication Year: 1989, Page(s):28 - 31
    Cited by:  Papers (1)
    Request permission for commercial reuse | Click to expandAbstract | PDF file iconPDF (514 KB)

    The problem of metal fatigue of aircraft is discussed in the context of risk analysis and assessment. The steps taken by aircraft designers to minimize risk are examined. A major defect of fatigue testing, which is its failure to take into account the effects of corrosion on fatigue cracks, is addressed. The pursuit of more effective methods of nondestructive testing is noted. The role played by f... View full abstract»

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  • Keeping the phone lines open

    Publication Year: 1989, Page(s):32 - 36
    Cited by:  Papers (3)  |  Patents (3)
    Request permission for commercial reuse | Click to expandAbstract | PDF file iconPDF (810 KB)

    The electrical fire that took place at a telephone switching center in the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale on May 8, 1988 is discussed. After the fire, 35000 residential and business customers had no service at all, and others served by some 12000 trunk lines lacked long-distance service. Some areas had no service for a month, and dollar estimates of lost business range from the hundreds of millions to... View full abstract»

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  • Nuclear weapons reactors: too hot to handle?

    Publication Year: 1989, Page(s):37 - 41
    Request permission for commercial reuse | Click to expandAbstract | PDF file iconPDF (664 KB)

    Problems that arose in August 1988 during the startup of a reactor at the Savannah River nuclear weapons plant in Aiken, South Carolina, led to Congressional hearings on defense reactors in general and the indefinite closing of all three operational reactors at Savannah River. Stress-corrosion cracking and outmoded design features may make operation of reactors a risky business, and Westinghouse E... View full abstract»

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  • The Space Shuttle: a case of subjective engineering

    Publication Year: 1989, Page(s):42 - 46
    Cited by:  Papers (3)
    Request permission for commercial reuse | Click to expandAbstract | PDF file iconPDF (766 KB)

    NASA's approach to risk management, which until the Challenger accident focused on design-oriented techniques rather than probabilistic risk analysis (PRA), is discussed. Political factors that have played a large role in shaping NASA's decisions, along with its traditional-engineering-based corporate culture, are examined. NASA's present experiments with PRA, which are hampered by lack of statist... View full abstract»

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  • Bhopal: a tragedy in waiting

    Publication Year: 1989, Page(s):47 - 50
    Request permission for commercial reuse | Click to expandAbstract | PDF file iconPDF (542 KB)

    The lessons implicit in the industrial accident in Bhopal, India in 1984 are discussed. Union Carbide's approach to risk planning and management are examined in the context of the disaster. The factors that set the stage for the accident are also identified.<> View full abstract»

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