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What Happens When You Pull The Emergency Brake On the Subway?

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

If you've ever ridden in a New York City subway car—or pretty much any city's mass transit rail cars—you have probably seen the emergency brake. It's hard to miss, what with its bright red handle and big placard that reads "Emergency Brake." But if you've ever read the emergency instructions that are also posted to the wall, you'll notice repeated caveats for every scenario: "Do Not Pull The Emergency Cord."

So When Should You Pull the Emergency Cord?

According to the MTA's website, "Use the emergency brake cord only when the motion of the subway presents an imminent danger to life and limb." The New York Times, which looked into the matter, relayed transit officials' instructions, who said the only reason you should ever pull the brake is in the event someone gets caught in the door or between train cars and "is about to be dragged to an unenviable fate." Unenviable, indeed.

Pulling the cord during a fire or during a physical attack by one of your fellow straphangers will only hinder emergency workers from getting to your car, which is now stuck underground.

But What Actually Happens When You Pull That Cord?

The emergency brake cord is no joke. It's not like a bus cord that politely dings and tells the conductor, "Stop, please." MTA officials described the process to the Times:

The emergency cord activates compressed-air brakes; an onboard conductor must then notify train traffic controllers, who can contact the Police Department. The braking system must be reset by the train’s crew before the car can start moving again, a process that usually takes 5 to 15 minutes and can delay tens of thousands of passengers traveling on a particular route.

Those compressed-air brakes are pretty powerful, as this video of the MTA testing them will attest:

So yeah, unless someone will be hurt by the motion of the train and that alone, don't pull that cord. A sizable amount of compressed air will hiss out onto the brakes and you won't be going anywhere for a while.

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What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
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What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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