Unlike speed bumps which force a driver to slow down considerably to avoid damaging their car, speed humps let vehicles pass at a considerably higher speed and with less discomfort for the passengers. They are roughly 4 to 5 feet in width as opposed to about 1 foot for a speed bump. They also have about the same height as a speed bump. One would probably have to hit a speed hump at about 70 km/h to do any serious damage.

Speed humps have recently been placed on several residential streets in my area that are frequently used by people taking a back way to the local grocery store. While the speed humps have certainly slowed traffic on these streets, there is still roughly the same volume of traffic due to the congestion on the main roads.

The speed humps in my area were accompanied by signs falsely designating the area a "traffic calming zone". Two signs were also posted next to each speed hump, one saying "speed hump" and the other with a picture that one might expect to see on a UFO Landing Site sign. The "speed hump" signs have all disappeared however, most likely taken by teenage boys.

Speed humps as traffic may first seem like a vast consipiracy of suspension repair shops paying off traffic engineers and urban planners to install insidious devices made to break strut arms, jar your kidneys, spill your coffee and to try to get you to slow down. This thinly veiled excuse has perpetuated many communities and neighborhoods to litter speed humps on residential side roads. These insidious devices resemble shallow-sloped plateaus destined to bury the front end of your vehicle upon dismount at any decent speed, sparking and taking divits of asphalt out as your double wishboned or MacPherson strutted ass bottoms out and wraps your exhaust system neatly around the rear differential or strut arms.

yes, i know the difference between shocks and struts. you'll notice i said it would bottom out shock absorbers and bend strut arms. i also know that they should be called hydraulic dampeners instead of shock absorbers because i kicked fucking ass in system dynamics. this is really a semantic arguement, but i defer to the more well-known albeit technically incorrect term so everyone will know what i'm talking about.

i also realize that speed humps are a shotgun solution to the problem of people driving too fast in residential neighborhoods but better solutions are better discussed elsewhere and are way beyond the scope of this node.

So after taking said speed hump at forty five miles per hour, you're now very fuckingly stranded on the side of the road after the undercarraige of your vehicle bottomed out, littering the road with many freshly bent and expensive suspension and power transmission components ALL BECAUSE OF THESE GOD-DAMNED ASPHALT PLATEAUS AND YOUR INABILITY TO DRIVE AT LESS THAN FORTY-FIVE MILES PER HOUR OVER ONE IN YOUR BIG STUPID VEHICLE, YOU IMPATIENT ASSHOLE.

Guess what, fucko - that speed hump was in fact part of a conspiracy to damage, kill and maim millions. Kinda. i suggest you get off your over-sat ass and set the wayback machine for Washington University in the year 1953.

There you will find a mild-mannered physicist by the name of Arthur H. Compton. Arthur liked to spend his spare time playing the banjo or mandolin, gazing at the stars, a game or two of tennis, photography and watching traffic streak past Brookings Hall on what is now Hoyt Drive on the campus of WU in St. Louis, Missouri. Ol' Compton, in between flatpicking and blistering backhand serves, came up with a new strategy for traffic control. This device was intended to make fast moving vehicles slow down without affecting slow moving ones. Arthur's design called for a 7" high platform that was 4' long. Ramps leading up to and away from this platform were 11' in length, for an overall length of 26 feet, far milder than many speed humps today. Assuming an "ideal" suspesion, Doc C sketched a single and double speed humps with the following table of accelerations (in units relative to the acceleration due to gravity, 9.811 m/s^2)

 5 mph     0.02g
10 mph     0.1 g
20 mph     0.4 g
30 mph     1.1 g
40 mph     2.7 g
50 mph     4.0 g

That is, the wheels will leave the ground and
the driver will leave his seat at about 30 m.p.h.,
while at 10 m.p.h., the effect is negligible

So according to Arthur Compton's very own notes, at 10 miles per, we're Kool and the Gang. Yond vehicle starts becoming airborne at about 30 mph and anything above that should be reserved for the General Lee. The wrath of math has struck again.

Those of you that said things very like "I can't wait to get out in the real world so I never have to use math again" at some point in college or high school, this is your reward. My reward for enjoying math is sitting beside the speed hump drinking Mai Tais and watching you destroy your car in a loud shower of sparks and red-hot metal.
Ain't life a bitch?

If you actually gave a damn, you'd be asking "So where's the conspiracy, jackass?" Good question. It seems that when he wasn't taking time off for pickin' & grinnin', he was busy with studying X-rays and how to use them to study electrons & atoms. In 1927, he recieved a Nobel Prize in physics for what is now known as the Compton effect which clearly shows the particle concept of electromagnetic radiation.

The real shit started in 1941 when Compton was appointed Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Committee to Evaluate Use of Atomic Energy in War. In a nutshell, he was the boss of heavy hitters like Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner, among others. Arthur was the HMFIC overseeing the first controlled uranium reactors and the plutonium breeder reactor in Hanford, Washington. Some of this plutonium found its way into the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in August 1945. Arthur personally had a role in deciding to use the atomic bomb in the first place.

So the next time you wonder why speed humps are so efficent at tearing up your vehicle, keep in mind the man who first came up with the design was deeply involved with making many things go boom real big. Two of Compton's original single-hump design were constructed on Hoyt drive in 1992 to commemorate his 100th birthday.

admiralh says Wow, I've driven over those bumps on Hoyt many times (went to CS grad school at WU from 94-97) I always wondered why they were so much bigger than normal ones. Thanks.

big fuckin shoutouts to my homies and sources:

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