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### 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:01 am UTC

Alt text: "I don't know what's more telling--the number of pages in the Wikipedia talk page argument over whether the 1/87.0857143 scale is called "HO" or "H0", or the fact that within minutes of first hearing of it I had developed an extremely strong opinion on the issue."

I find it more disturbing that people care about it at all.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:08 am UTC
It is a neato concept

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:08 am UTC
Great comic!

By the way, if you did build a layout of your town in your basement, the Brouwer Fixed Point Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brouwer_fixed_point_theorem) implies that there would be a point in your layout that lies directly over the point in the town it corresponds to.

Similarly: If you're in the US, place a map of the US on the floor. There exists a point on the map lying directly over the point in the US it corresponds to.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:09 am UTC
Nice twist on a tired punchline.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:10 am UTC
Wikipedia wrote:In H0 scale, 3.5 mm represents 1 real foot; this ratio works out to about 1:87.086.

... why? It just seems like mixing units like this is asking for trouble...

Also, the Wikipedia disambig page for "H0" describes it as "H + letter zero", so take from that what you will.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:21 am UTC
Just went to the wiki page. It seems obvious that H0 is the correct notation, not HO. Wonder what xkcd's take was.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:22 am UTC
We have to go deeper...

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:23 am UTC
I love the incongruous Inception reference.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:28 am UTC
so what do you guys think? HO or H0? To sum up the arguments, HO is by far the most common American spelling and useage, but H0 is the original form, meaning half-zero-with zero being another track style. Common useage or historical accuracy?

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:41 am UTC
The solution? Make a model of the town representing it before you had started on the model

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:42 am UTC
"The Model Railroad is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth."
"What truth?"
"The truth that at any minute, you might bring a freight train through the wall."
"Why'd you put a train crossing in the middle of a downtown intersection?"

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:42 am UTC
I travelled here from the year 1973 to warn you:

If it were possible to construct an infinitely recursive scale model of your town in your basement, it would also be possible to make a finite number of cuts to that model, dissassemble it along the cuts, and then reassemble it into a full-sized replica of your town at actual size.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:46 am UTC
Want to know another fun wrinkle in the HO scale issue?

HO isn't a scale at all.

That is, HO defines the size and separation distance of the rails. But since the actual trains being represented may actually use different rail widths themselves, the trains are scaled to fit the model rails, and the scenery elements are scaled to provide an approximate match.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:55 am UTC
It is most assurantly H0 (H Zero). I used a modified Trebuchet font where the zeros(0) have a dot in the centre and when I wikied it, it was the H0 scale.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:01 am UTC
Despite H-zero being the "correct" reading, most people I know still pronounce it "H-oh".

Now, how does our modeler plan to construct the smallest iterations? with an atomic-force microscope probe?

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:09 am UTC
I knew nothing of train scales until this comic. I read about the H0 scale and immediately formed a strong opinion myself. What was the opinion of the author?

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:10 am UTC
According to the same article cited above, it's HO in North American (NMRA) and H0 in Europe (NEM). So the truth apparently depends on where you're standing.

As a child growing up with a model railroad (in North America), I assumed it was the letter, not the number, on the model of the other scales: N, G, SE, etc. No ambiguity there. Except O/0 scale, of course.

For what it's worth, the Wiki page for H* is H0, but the Wiki page for O/0 is O, not 0.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:10 am UTC
I'm thinking you could use microchip engraving technology for some of the smaller scales. In fact, just rig up some fancy track junctions and let tiny trains carry your bits around on the chip

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:13 am UTC
H0 is usually used to denote null hypotheses, so I'm inclined to go with the other one.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:25 am UTC
whats the unit of the size of the last recursion?

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:43 am UTC
hintss wrote:whats the unit of the size of the last recursion?

Ångström. 1Å = 0.1nm. It's a measurement on the scale of individual atoms (eg the distance between the hydrogen atoms and the oxygen atom in a water molecule is 0.96Å).

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:44 am UTC
I don't see what unfortunate consequence the "second rule" prevents. If you made a scale layout of a different geographical area, and in it was a model railroad of yet a different geographical area, and so on, you'd still reach the Matryoshka limit in about the same number of iterations. And even if there were, somewhere along the way, a locale that contained no model railroads, there would still be features that could not be reproduced to scale within the Matryoshka limit. If you made an H0 layout of a university where C60 (fullerene) was part of the research, you couldn't model the C60 even in the first iteration.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:47 am UTC
So, who has a neat train layout in their town, that would even be worth making a model of? Except for a few parks with kiddie train in them, I've never lived anywhere (including near train yards) where the train doesn't come in at one edge, and leave at another.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:07 am UTC
Really? The second rule? Why couldn't it have been the third rule? If the first rule of model train layouts is you do not talk about model train layouts, then the second rule of model train layouts is you DO NOT talk about model train layouts.

Eh, maybe that would have been too much after the (sort of) Inception reference.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:23 am UTC
beet31425 wrote:Great comic!

By the way, if you did build a layout of your town in your basement, the Brouwer Fixed Point Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brouwer_fi ... nt_theorem) implies that there would be a point in your layout that lies directly over the point in the town it corresponds to.

Similarly: If you're in the US, place a map of the US on the floor. There exists a point on the map lying directly over the point in the US it corresponds to.

It applies in three dimensions too: if you had a model of your train layout in your train layout, then there would be a point which is not just above it's respective point, but actually the same in both layouts. The more interesting thing is that if you had the 6 deep model that is postulated in the comic, that same point would be the same in every level.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:33 am UTC
Isn't this about the old argument against the existence of self-replicating machines? They would need to contain a building plan (that specifies how to construct a new machine), but then they'd also need also a building plan for that building plan, et cetera.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:39 am UTC
Wow! I just went to se a (scale) modelling contest yesterday, and now this.

One question: I suppose the Matrusjka Limit depends in some way on the scale, but how?
In 1/87 (not being a railroad modeller (anymore) I don't care about H0 vs HO (anymore)), the recursive scales are 1/87, 1/7569, 1/658503, 1/57289761, 1/4984209207.

1/32 would give 1/32, 1/1024, 1/32768, 1/1048576, 1/33554432, 1/1073741824, and thus an extra level, supposing you only modelled the house, and it was 18 m across.

Hmm, I suppose RMS (recursive modelling syndrome) is a variant of AMS (advanced modellers syndrome.)

/Lasse
I prefer to build non-recursive 1/72 scale models, anyway...

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:58 am UTC
Speicus wrote:Isn't this about the old argument against the existence of self-replicating machines? They would need to contain a building plan (that specifies how to construct a new machine), but then they'd also need also a building plan for that building plan, et cetera.

No problem there. Machine A stores the plans for it's own hardware as software. It then builds Machine B from those plans, and copies the software over.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:24 am UTC
The internet is here and it says "sup dog"
Also I am going to stick with G scale so much more kid friendly

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:29 am UTC
atomfullerene wrote:so what do you guys think? HO or H0? To sum up the arguments, HO is by far the most common American spelling and useage, but H0 is the original form, meaning half-zero-with zero being another track style. Common useage or historical accuracy?

Historical accuracy!!

Icalasari wrote:The solution? Make a model of the town representing it before you had started on the model

But then it wouldn't be perfect according to arbitrary rules of obsession.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:30 am UTC
The punchline is gold.

Made me think of this particular inception image:
Spoiler:

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:36 am UTC
Actually, the final statement in the comic is wrong. If you just make a scale model of an object 88x as big for each recursion you want to go down you can make an infinite number of recursions.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:41 am UTC
My father was, among his other hobbies, a model railroader. (It was also his 1:1 scale job, as a train yard dispatcher.) I spent a good portion of my childhood reading his magazine collection, visiting the hobby shop, watching tiny trains do ovals, etc etc.
Thank you for uncovering some happy memories.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:12 am UTC
I'm guessing that by the end of the day, this will have changed dramatically. http://stats.grok.se/en/201103/H0_scale

I love using the Wikipedia article traffic statistics page as an imperfect surrogate for popularity of various internet phenomena, combined with which things the general public tends to not know already (and therefore needs to Wiki). Reminds me of last week's QC which mentions the color puce.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:33 am UTC
I don't know what's more telling--the number of pages in the Wikipedia talk page argument over whether the 1/87.0857143 scale is called "HO" or "H0", or the fact that within minutes of first hearing of it I had developed an extremely strong opinion on the issue.

I think the latter, Randall. It doesn't seem to be open-and-shut enough for an "extremely strong opinion."

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:57 am UTC
As long as you limit the model to the ground level and above, the basement should be safe from recursion. I guess that is the main reason why so few people have their models in the living room.

Just my2cents

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:19 am UTC
scarecrovv wrote:
Speicus wrote:Isn't this about the old argument against the existence of self-replicating machines? They would need to contain a building plan (that specifies how to construct a new machine), but then they'd also need also a building plan for that building plan, et cetera.

No problem there. Machine A stores the plans for its own hardware as software. It then builds Machine B from those plans, and copies the software over.

Yes I know - it's an old argument (from the ancient Greeks, I believe).

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:49 am UTC
So according to the "it's pronounced 'eich oh' and therefore must be written HO" logic, James Bond's code number must be written "OO7" not "007", and Web two point oh" is written "Web 2.O", and if you pronounce the year 2009 as "twenty oh nine" it really should be written "20O9" ?

Even if "Oh" is a way of saying zero in English, it does not follow that you have to use the upper case letter "O" to represent it.

I'd argue that as the circle behind the letter H comes from zero not the letter "O" it should be written "0". That would be technically correct, "the best kind of correct"

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:50 am UTC
All these inception references about nesting and none about waiting for a train.

### Re: 0878: "Model Rail"

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:01 am UTC
If you wanna be confused, in the UK we use OO, as our real track is a different width, but we use the same model track as HO/0. Our models are therefore slightly larger.

It's a pain in the ass.