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The world in reverse

Tech Nossomy

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While we all ride EUCs or 'wheels' these days, and much of our transportation depends on it, there is also this new invention which caught my eye recently. It is this very large and very costly vehicle, called an 'automobile'. Allow me to let you in on some of the details as I have them.

It is a large contraption, a bit of a box-like metal cage, which has a number of seats of varying comfort-levels, and requires a driver to operate. Despite having a low center of gravity, it still requires 4 wheels to keep it stable, which is 4 times as many as you need if only it were designed better. It is also so heavy, that lifting it yourself is impossible, let alone keep it under your desk, as you would do with your wheel.

And because of its size and weight this vehicle needs to be kept outside all of the time. I have even heard some rumours, incredulous as they are, that some people cannibalise part of their home just to keep it inside. There are even rumours of unsightly buildings being erected to stack them all next to each other, on expensive land in the center of cities.

Also because of its size and weight, it requires its own infrastructure, using a special blend of nafta and grit, and at a cost of hundreds of billions. That figure is just to lay it there, I dare not find out what the cost would be of maintaining it. It would also take decades to do and no government is in that much of a surplus that they can do this on their own. So perhaps fiscal policy would have to help out?

For kinetic energy it uses combustion in an array of cylinders, which is essentially an improvement of Newcomen's cilinder from 400 years ago. And as you know, the fundamental inefficiency of a cylinder is the need to accelerate and decelerate twice at every stroke. As a fuel these cylinders use gasoline, a smelly and toxic liquid, which requires exploration, pumping, refining, shipping and domestic distribution to get it to where it needs to be. Rather than keeping the fuel where the vehicle is, with this invention it is rather the other way around: you have to physically go to a special place for refuelling and these are scattered around the country. So it's not like you can just refuel while at a friend's place or something, that would be far too logical. Strangely, you have to be physically present when refuelling.

But it gets worse. I mentioned this vehicle was expensive. One of the reasons it is so, is because it consists of hundreds of components, many are there for safety reasons, but primarily in the engine area you will find components that are just there to pump liquids around: oil and other lubricants, cooling liquids, cleaning agents etc. So plenty single points of failure and all these liquids need to be replenished at regular intervals. A messy business and so many inputs! And just so you know, the engine is not where the wheels are. Manufacturers have actually added metal transmission mechanisms, so that the kinetic energy is moved to the wheels, making the vehicle heavier and less efficient yet again.

And there is more about this fuel, because when burned it creates noxious byproducts which are expelled into the air. For example, there are volatile organic compounds causing smog, as well as carbon monoxide, causing air poisoning. Then there is also the emission of soot, causing respiratory diseases when inhaled over prolonged periods of time. The exhaust of fumes also continues when the engine is idling and the vehicle not actually moving. So inconsiderate! This combustion process also creates noisy rumbling sounds and that means that no one would want to live near a road, let alone suffer home price devaluations. I can already imagine the protests when 'automobiles' are allowed on a road near you.

Even if popularity increases to a level where possession per capita is very high, supposedly traffic would be jammed on days where usage is also very high. The theory goes that you actually would have to wait to continue your journey even when you are already on the road, a concept unknown to us, wheelers. The idea that this jamming would happen every day, or even all day long, I find highly improbable. It wouldn't happen, because the driver would be ridiculed among friends and family to voluntarily enter one of these jams and they would therefore not originate. And for any driver to claim that they need their automobile is a demonstration of a lack of resourcefulness.

I am sure you'll agree with me that this invention will never be accepted by the general public, let alone the tax payer. And even in the purely hypothetical case that it would be, using it would be made illegal by the authorities.

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The idea of a car is indeed ludricrous, at least it is for personal transport. There would not be enough oil to sustain this mode of transport in the long run. Why would you buy a thing that weighs 500(?) kg to transport 70 kg? Ah well, science fiction is not always logical.

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