Episode 19 – Star Trek Transporters and Through Life Safety

Have you ever noticed that very few people get hurt during the design of a system. From
precarious assemble-at-home microlight aircraft to the world’s most awesome super-weapons, the hazards that can actually occur at design time are those of a typical office environment – power sockets, trips, falls and repetitive strain injury. Our safety effort during this time is all predictive. We don’t usually call it prediction, but that’s what modelling, analysis, and engineering judgement ultimately are. We’re trying to anticipate, imagine and control a future world.

And even though it’s easy to be cynical about the competence and diligence of people in charge of dangerous systems I really don’t think that there are evil masterminds out there authorising systems in the genuine belief that they are NOT safe. At the time a plant is commissioned or a product is released there is a mountain of argument and evidence supporting the belief of the designers, the testers, the customers and the regulators that the system is safe. Why then, do accidents happen?

That’s what this episode is about. We’ll look at some of the possible reasons and how to manage them, then discuss an accident, the disaster that befell Alaska Airlines Flight 261. Just in case you’ve got a flight to catch afterwards, we’ll reset our personal risk meters by discussing an alternate way to travel, the transporters and teleportation devices from Star Trek and similar Sci Fi experiences.

Transcript is available here.


  1. Memory Alpha (Star Trek Wiki) article on Transporters.
  2. NTSB Report on the Alaska Airlines 261 Crash.

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