I am mostly a pretty easy going guy, but one thing in particular always manages to push my buttons and throw me into a rage: Phantom traffic jams.

You know the type: You inch along on the interstate, bumper-to-bumper, for excruciating amounts of time, only to eventually round a corner and pick right back up to full speed. There’s no sign of an accident, or road work, or a rubberneck-inducing event (like a singe orange cone on the shoulder, or a UFO landing site, or the second coming of the Flying Spaghetti Monster).

I always try to give these situations the benefit of the doubt. Maybe a funeral procession just merged from an on-ramp, or a catastrophic accident just got cleaned up, or a 747 needed to use the highway as an emergency runway, or the military had to cluster bomb a herd of zombies hiding under an overpass; you know, something justifying an hour long traffic jam. But then there’s the little, road-rageous voice pinging away in my brain behind my eyes,

There was no good reason for that traffic jam, Mike. People just can’t drive a constant goddamn speed on a straight goddamn road. One person probably tapped their breaks to get a better look at a McDonald’s billboard and set off a chain reaction, culminating in ruining your day.

Now, science has validated that voice by describing the shock-wave traffic jam phenomenon. It turns out, people can’t drive a ‘constant goddamn speed on a straight goddamn road!’

Just watching that video starts to put my nerves on edge…


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I have moved.
Arthropoda can now be found here.

Michael Bok is a graduate student studying the visual system of mantis shrimp.

Flickr Photos


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