A Bad Idea is Bad From All Angles

Elon Musk is a celebrity in every meaning of the word. The Simpsons had him as a quest voice star. South Park made fun of him. When he made comments warning against the rise of Artificial Intelligence, people listened. Given his high profile, it’s no surprise that anything he says has the potential to become news.

This happened to be the case when Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson. While talking about fossil fuels, Musk made an interesting point. There is a finite amount of oil and coal, and when it runs out then society as we know it will simply cease to be. Based on this knowledge, Musk argues that regardless of any environmental damage this causes, the need to abandon fossil fuels is imminent.

Many writers – including Steve Hanley – were quick to make the comparisons to Admiral Hyman Rickover, known to many as “the father of the nuclear navy.” Hanley quotes a speech Rickover gave in 1957 to help illustrate the comparison to another who tried find alternatives to fossil fuels for reasons other than the environment. In his speech, Rickover made analogies to “capital in a bank,” and declared that alternatives must be put in place before the fossil fuels ran out.

The comments by Musk themselves were straight foreword and uncontroversial – tough using the term “the dumbest experiment in history” did make for easy headline fodder. Overall, this article (and several similar ones to it) shows that Musk’s opinions place him in the majority on this issue. Probably the most interesting part of this entire incident is that Musk – who has shown consistently that he cares about environmental issues and the future of the human race (which was the topic overall talk he was having with Tyson) – is making a push to the business world in terms they will understand – profit.



Alternative fuels: a must in our current situation

Global warming has been a big topic for a while now, and with the vast amount of vehicles on the road, it is becoming a more serious topic. According to NASA, Earth’s CO2 levels are at the highest they’ve been in the past 650,000 years. CO2 is an essential element to sustain life here on earth. The light from the sun passes through the atmosphere and is absorbed into the earth, it then is radiated back up in the form of infrared heat. Most of the light is absorbed by CO2 and other greenhouse gasses and is then radiated back to the surface to warm earth to a life sustaining temperature. We basically live in a greenhouse.

There is only one problem, us. Since the industrial revolution CO2 levels have risen significantly. This is due to the immense amount of machines operating off of fossil fuels and producing CO2. According the NASA, “The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 379 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 90 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.”

The increase in temperatures can cause abstract weather, changes in the ocean currents, and other serious problems. In order to fix this issue we need to find an alternative fuel that can replace gasoline and still provide the same performance. Some methods have been experimented with. Methods like electric cars by battery, or ethanol. These methods are not solutions because they still cause harm to the planet in different ways. What we need is a fuel that is efficient and healthy for the environment. Some alternatives that have recently been released look promising, such as solar power, hydrogen, and natural gas. Hopefully in the future we will be able find an alternative and help stop the damage that burning fossil fuels has done.

You can read all about climate change and our affect on the planet on NASA’s website.


Brands, Brands, and Brands.

Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Blackberry, and iPhone. Urban Outfitters, Gap, Abercrombie, Patagonia, and American Apparel. Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Mercedes. To most, those clusters of words are divided into three groups: Phone brands, clothes brands, and car brands. When looking into brands, no matter the object, people tend to migrate towards the popular and durable one. But how do we decide? Which brands do you support? Why do you support them? Why do you choose one over the other? How about this, would you buy a blackberry car? What about a Patagonia phone? Apple plans to come out with “iCar”; the first Apple brand car. Apple is notorious for challenging new markets and dominating the field. September 1980 Macintosh released the “Apple” III. Apple continued to release a series of printers, computers, and hard-drives until August 1993 when they released the very first Newton Message Pad, which was essentially a first generation PDA. They began to renovate the idea before they re-focused and concentrated their energy on the “compact” and “powerbook”. October 23, 2001 apple released the very first iPod Classic. Differing from the iMac, iBook, Powermac, and Powerbook; the ipod was the first generation handheld music portable. Fast forward to 2004 when the iPod mini came out, their brand was booming. Apple now had the reins on the computer, compact, printer, and now handheld music industry. Fast forward three more years to the first generation iPhone release; the most anticipated presale in Apple product history (thus far of course). Fast forward, once more, to today. Apple products dominate almost every product field, excluding maybe printers and their long-time rival with Hewlett-Packard. Their phones, computers, apps, accessories, printers, and portable music technology changed the game. So my question now is, do we trust apple with this significant challenge? Critics question their technology and argue that the knowledge isn’t in the right place. However, Apple’s vastly varied technology successes propose a different outcome. I say, let’s see what they’ve got. apple-car

The Airless Tire

Can you imagine never having to worry about getting a flat tire, curbing or bending your rim ever again? Well this revolutionary idea might just be the best option for everyone. This is Bridgestone’s new idea for a tire and it is brilliant. Obviously you will have to rotate them like any normal tire, but you will never be stranded on the road again because of a nail that is stuck in your tire. “An end to the days of changing a tire on the highway shoulder would be welcome to drivers everywhere”. I don’t know if you have ever changed a tire on the side of the road but it is not the most pleasant experience. Watching drivers fly by you at a range of speeds upwards of 70mph on the interstates only feet away from crouched next to your car pray that they see you and do not hit you. This saves lives, time, and money. These three factors alone make the airless tire that much more desirable. The way you will save money is going to be at the pump. With regular tires air expands and contracts with the temp in the air, so if you are not staying alert with the tire pressure you could be running on a deflated tire. I don’t mean that it is flat but if you are not at the manufactures recommended tire pressure it is causing you to push on the gas harder to get your car rolling and also keep it in motion. “About 90% of energy loss from tire rolling resistance comes from repeated changes in the shape of the tries as they roll. By simplifying the structure of the tire, Bridgestone was able to minimize the energy loss in these “air free concept tires.””. The sooner this hits the market the better. Only good thing will come from this new design and cannot wait to try I out for myself.



DeltaWing: Most Fuel Efficient Daily Driver?

The company DeltaWing has said that a street legal variant of their odd car design could be the most fuel efficient daily driver car out there. They commissioned an independent engineering analysis of their cars design and it has an estimated seventy four miles per gallon highway rating. And this would not be achieved by a hybrid engine or electric power but with a good old internal combustion engine, making it the most fuel efficient vehicle with an internal combustion engine in the United States.

This high miles per gallon rating is attributed to the cars sleek, aerodynamic design. The engine in the car would be 1.4 liter gasoline engine, putting out about 134 horsepower. In previous interviews, the company has stated that a car of this design with as little as 85 horsepower could do zero to sixty miles per hour in six seconds and top out at 130 miles per hour, so it would not be lacking in sufficient power even with its fuel efficiency. This has all been theoretical testing so far and based upon simulations. Press releases of even the simulated achievements however have allowed the company to move toward producing a viable prototype to begin real world testing now though.

While the simulated numbers are quite an astounding achievement with an internal combustion engine, I am not sure if the car will catch on in the consumer market should it reach production viability. I am personally not a fan of the design, even though it is this design in and of itself which lends the car its amazing fuel efficiency. To me, it looks a lot like the trike design of motorcycles which I have also not ever been a fan of. The aesthetics of the car are what bother me, not its specifications. If people can get past its odd look however, if it ever sees mass production, it could be a game changer for the automotive industry.

DeltaWing Four-Seat Chassis Red

Hydrogen- A Better Alternative

While electric cars are being heavily pushed in the alternative fuel market of automobiles these days, Hyundai is showing that hydrogen powered vehicles are a major player in the future of the automobile. An article was recently published by the New York Daily News talking about Hyundai’s new hydrogen powered Tucson.  The vehicle will make an appearance at the New York Auto Show this year, but the reporter of the story was able to test drive the car before then. He seemed to really enjoy the Tucson Fuel Cell, claiming that it drove very similar to an electric vehicle. He stated that the Hyundai’s car, in “over-simplistic terms, is an electric vehicle.” According to the reporter, “The main difference is that the power to keep this sport-utility running for 250+ miles is provided by hydrogen gas, which is stored in a tank located beneath the rear cargo floor.”

This article really got me thinking about hydrogen powered vehicles. I had heard about these as a possibility before but had never really looked into seeing what the benefits were. This article helped make that clearer. It seems that hydrogen power for vehicles is potentially a pretty good idea for replacing gasoline. These vehicles, as mentioned above, run off of hydrogen gas that is kept in a tank like gasoline. The fuel cells for these automobiles can be added and subtracted “relatively simply, depending on what type of vehicle” as well as your intended power and range. They can work for cars, midsized SUVs and even trucks. Because the necessity of extra hardware, which adds more weight than normal gas-powered vehicles, these autos have a little slower take off time. For example, the Tucson is 3-4 seconds slower than its gas-powered version. However, to me, this is not that big of a deal. It is a short period of time, and once on the open road, it can reach speeds up of to 100 mph.

Another major benefit of hydrogen is its short fill up time. One issue that is being attempted to be solved with electric cars is the recharge times. The article mentions that normal plug-ins can take up to 12+ hours and the most advanced and expensive electrics still require around 30 minutes. Hydrogen refueling takes roughly the same amount of time as filling up your gas tank. This is a huge advantage to hydrogen vehicles as many people, including myself, don’t have the time to sit and wait for hours to recharge their car’s battery nor do they want to. Society today is impatient and fast paced and we want to be in and out of the gas (or hydrogen) station quickly.


One big concern, as some of you that are reading this may point out, is just because refueling is quicker doesn’t mean it is easy to find a hydrogen refueling station. Due to this, the Tucson is only being leased in southern California and cannot even be bought yet. Most of the country does not have stations for hydrogen powered vehicles so it is difficult to market and provide them elsewhere in the nation. However, hope is not lost for hydrogen power because states are starting to set stricter emission policies pushing for the development of hydrogen powered vehicles as they “emit only water vapor, warm air, and some hydrogen, which are not concerns for air quality.” California is trying to use tax incentives to promote an infrastructure of hydrogen refueling stations that makes these vehicles a “viable zero-emission choice.” New York is not far behind as the Tucson Fuel Cells are supposed to reach the roads of the state in 1-2 years.

After reading this article, I really feel that this could be a great option to gas alternatives. The article mentions that hydrogen power is the future of the automobile and the Tucson is a step closer to making it an everyday reality and I can’t say that I disagree. While there is still a lot more that I would like to learn about this technology before I label it the automobile’s distinct future, I do see a lot of potential just from the information in this article. It will be interesting to see if this wins out over purely electric automobiles.

Learn More: http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/auto-shows/new-york-auto-show-hyundai-tucson-fuel-cell-test-drive-article-1.2163448


Cheap Not So Cheap?

I recently read an article on edmunds.com where their authors posed a very important question to automakers: is cheap gas going to damage a car’s engine? So while one may think that they are saving at the pump by choosing the cheapest fuel, they may actually be inhibiting future damage to their car’s engine.

The article states: “A key difference is that the major brands put more additives in their gas and claim to have some secret ingredients. This extra shot of additives provides an additional level of cleaning and protection for your engine.”

So, while one might think that they are saving pennies, dollars, or even more over time, as well as easing the strain on their wallet when filling up is necessary, the hidden damage may cost them much more than those marginal savings at the pump. It is unfortunate, however, that these “beneficial” additives are actually costing the stations (and the consumer) more. The more powerful, useful, and mperative additives, though, are even more expensive.

So what is the bottomn line when it comes to fuels and which petroleum you should be putting in your tank? Well, according to Randy Stephens, chief engineer for Toyota’s Avalon, the claims of engine protection afforded by higher-priced gas do not necessarily convince him. However, he and many other car experts agree that putting some kind of additive to one’s fuel can greatly improve engine quality and life. So if one’s pockets aren’t quite deep enough to afford premium (91 or other) gasoline, one can purchase am additive such as a bottle of Chevron U.S.A. Inc.’s Techron — the same additive that’s in Chevron gasoline (once or twice a year).

These less expensive alternatives greatly help the consumer and the manufacturer: if a car is not needing service every 10,000 miles, the consumer gains trust with the manufacturer, and the msnufacturer maintains a loyal consumer base. I guess the only party out of luck in this theoretical situation are those that specialize (and shirk, but not always) in fixing the problems created by cheap gasoline.

Source: http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/is-cheap-gas-bad-for-your-car.html