This is an episode about large piles falling over. We start with the physics of sandcastles, and move quickly to the coal tip at Aberfan. This leads further to discussing hindsight explanations for accidents. The episode also includes a brief review of John Templer’s “The Staircase”.
The NTSB has released a report examining common organisational factors in five accidents on Metro North Railroad in and around New York. Do five accidents in a short space of time indicate an unusual safety problem? Are there useful lessons to be learned beyond examining each accident in isolation?