When i was an undergrad at UMass, one of my professors (Al Russell) told an anecdotal story about simple harmonic motion that went something like this:
Seems like a reasoanble idea, yes? The 2nd part of the story was apparently to illustrate the concept that you should think your engineering decisions all the way through:
The professor mentioned the name of the river, and even though the story had absolutely nothing to do with the class material at the time, I took a couple of notes, and wrote the name of the river as "Atufalaga" .. which was the best I could do phonetically.
Of course, with this name, I couldn't find a reference .. since it was misspelled.
(I even googled a couple dozen phonetic variants of the name but couldn't find anything)
I've always wondered if (a) the story was true and (b) what the real name of the river/bridge was.
(Fast forward many years)
I recently read a book called Strangers in Their Own Land, which is about why white working class voters vote against their own interests. The book focuses on conservative voters from Louisiana.
(Spoiler alert: the reason why people vote against their own interests is, summed up in a single word: "God")
On page 241, the author mentions the "Atchafalaya Basin" (which, interestingly enough, is susceptible to long periods of deep flooding).
As it turns out, there's also an Atchafalaya River (it is the fifth largest river in North America, by discharge).
There have been 12 bridges built over this river, ~five of them with train tracks on them, and two of the bridges are listed as "lost" (Krotz Springs Bridge, built in 1934 and SP - Atchafalaya River Bridge, built circa 1923).
After some creative searching, I finally found a reference to the original story .. in a 1987 issue of The New Yorker magazine. The title of the article is " THE CONTROL OF NATURE - ATCHAFALAYA:
The mystery of whether or not i am a total dork: solved!