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OR in Popular Mechanics

When I was a kid, I loved the magazine Popular Mechanics.  In addition to articles on futuristic cars and planes, they always had articles on how things worked, and I seem to recall mechanically oriented projects that were always just outside my abilities.  As time went on, I realized that my mechanical abilities were limited indeed, so I moved on to the more cerebral Scientific American and mathematics.  These days, I am always amazed when I see Popular Mechanics in bookstores:  it is like a blast from the 60s.

Blake Nicholson of the University of Michigan wrote me to point out that a recent article in the magazine has a heavy OR focus.  In an article on Improving Air Travel,  one of the ten possible improvements, changing boarding strategies, is explicitly an OR approach.  A few of the other suggestions, including re-pricing landing slots to encourage better spreading of planes and the use of RFID in luggage tracking, are also OR approaches to air travel problems.

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  1. […] has been previous work on improved boarding.  Will airlines use it?  Probably not: In Canada, the two major airlines say they like the status […]

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