The next time Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney boards a plane, he'd like to be able to roll his window down. At least, his remarks at a recent California fundraiser suggested such, when he lamented the fact that one couldn't just crack the window open on a jetliner and get some fresh air. He made his latest blunder in response to a September 21 incident where his wife Ann's plane had to make an emergency landing due to an electrical malfunction. Mitt Romney took the opportunity to display his complete lack of knowledge in the area of aviation.
"When you have a fire in an aircraft," he said, "there's no place to go, exactly. There's no - and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous."
Actually, the reason why they don't do that is rather important. At 35,000 feet up, the air becomes too thin, so airplane cabins have to be pressurized above that altitude. Otherwise, passengers would suffer from hypoxia (oxygen deprivation). Outside the plane, the temperature usually drops below negative 60 degrees. If one were able to "roll down the window" and expose him- or herself to such conditions, that person would quickly die.
Later, Ashley Parker, the New York Times writer who wrote the original report, believed that the context of Romney's words suggested that he was joking.
But not all writers are buying that, and if Romney wasn't joking, people may feel a little cause for concern at the candidate's lack of scientific knowledge.
Certainly, many people took notice of the comment. Atheist author and biologist Richard Dawkins took to his Twitter, sarcastically remarking, "Romney thinks planes should have windows you can open. Makes sense. Good to have a scientifically savvy president."
New Jersey comedian/columnist Michael Hayne concluded, "One doesn't have to have a nobel prize in science to know why opening windows on aircraft is strictly forbidden.
"No word yet on whether Mitt Romney wishes passengers on battleships could open screen doors."
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr