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If A Jet Engine Creates A Wormhole In The Forest...

Illustration for article titled If A Jet Engine Creates A Wormhole In The Forest...

...and there's no one around to hear it, does it make a sound warp space-time? Inquiring minds want to know. Here's the answer, from a man who watched it happen.


The engine you see here is a Pratt and Whitney turbine as used in the government's Joint Strike Fighter. It's sitting on a test stand. This image was sent to us by reader Joe B., who used to work in P and W's test facility and was there when the photo was taken. He was also kind enough to send us a short description of what's happening on the far right:

The engine in the photo is actually FTE (Flight Test Engine) 1. All of the yellow wiring is test sensors — they measure pressure, temperature, vibration, and many other parameters. The triangle patterns in the ducts are made from a process called chem-milling, which allows them to be very thin yet exceedingly strong because the thrust (over 40,000 lbs) of the engine is transferred through them.


That makes sense. What's up with the wormhole/stargate/Sliders gate on the right?

One last thing: Water is sprayed into the exhaust tube during augmentor (afterburner) use to suppress sound and heat. The water is fed into the tube through six nozzles positioned around the circumference that are in turn fed by three-inch-diameter tubes. These tubes have a tendency to leak where they connect to the nozzles, but it's not a huge deal because there is a drain below the test stand, and because water is only on for brief periods of time. But if you look at the right hand side of the photo, you can see the F135 is actually pulling the water that is leaking on the outside of the tube, pulling it around the outside and forcing it down the exhaust tube.

Very, very cool. Still, we'll keep on believing that an alternate universe/distant galaxy/land where Can-Am racing never died lives on the other side of that hole. It's just better that way.

Photo Credit: Pratty and Whitney/F135Engine.

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When I look at pictures of jet engines like this I feel like such an idiot. Sure, it takes teams of people to put these things together, but there's no way I'm smart enough to figure out how these work at more than a cursory level. So many wires and tubes and guages and... and I've got a liberal arts degree.