Re: WTC and Low Tech

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Thu Sep 20 2001 - 22:42:31 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:

> Sorry, I can't see a rope being much better than jumping.

I dont see why not. Even something as terrifying as
rappelling down the side of a tall building would beat
the hell outta sitting up there waiting to either suffocate
on choking fumes, burning or getting buried in the rubble of
a collapsing tower. Evidently a few WTCers decided a few
seconds of freefall with zero chance of survival was
preferrable to these fates.

Better idea than rappelling gear: an emergency belt that is
connected to a steel cable on a reel next to all windows.
The reel has a centrifugal clutch and damping so that it
lowers the victim quickly up top and slows her descent
near the ground. Remember the reel is set according to how
far it is off the ground. After the victim unbuckles and
flees, the device could reel in the cable for the next person.
Recall that a steel cable strong enough to support a human
is very small, 2 mm diameter is ample. In the case of the
WTC, there would be no need to design it for a 400+ lb person,
for a lardbutt would be unable to egress from those
narrow windows in any case.

If a lower floor has flames erupting from a window, the cable
would not overheat in one place, since unlike the rappelling
idea, the cable moves with the escapee. If we were clever,
we could come up with a belt that would automatically release
the escapee when she reached terra firma.

One could also keep in the office one of those firefighter's
mylar suits and an oxygen cylinder that would last for two
to three minutes and allow several seconds of direct contact
with flames.

In that vein, we could come up with an insulated mylar and
kevlar blanket or oversized pillowcase that one could
get inside and attach to the cable, again with a smart-
release device of some sort. Perhaps it could lower three
or four at a time in this manner.

Each high window could be fitted with a device that allows
removal of the glass to the inside, thus preventing showering
those on the street with glass.

In fact, better idea: the outsides of the buildings could
fitted with a horizontal extendable boom at each window
with the reel outdoors, so that when a window is drawn
in, a cable can be reached, then attached to the escapee
or escape bag. As soon as the smart device is attached to
the escape bag, the device could automatically extend a
couple meters and draw the terrified person out the window
and lower them, against their will if necessary, which
would overcome the problem of people chickening out and
blocking egress by the others.

Of course, I still like the idea of surface to air
missiles on the roof.
Actually it is a bit surprising that tall building do not
have some means of emergency escape other than stairways
which might be aflame. These could surely be put in place
for less money per office occupant than lifeboats on a
cruise ship. spike

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