Batteries, 8-Track Tapes, and the 2011 Nissan Leaf


I have a younger sibling who doesn't know a world without the Internet. Isn't that unbelievable? 

Technology is accelerating at such a blinding rate these days that ten years ago looks like the dark ages. Just the other day I was sitting at lunch and managed to record a video of a massive storm hitting campus, watch the weather radar, ask my friends if they wanted to watch Twister, receive an e-mail that class was cancelled due to the dangerous weather and listen to Riders on the Storm. All at the same time. 

The thing is, the basic heart of the automobile runs on the same concept as it did almost 100 years ago. Air and fuel are compressed by pistons in a cylinder, then ignited, and the resulting energy from the explosion forces the piston back down and through the connecting rod and the crankshaft. The energy from the ignited fuel becomes rotational energy. I might not have all the correct physics terms down (hey, I took that class freshman year, leave me alone already) but the engines in your Model T and your 2011 Ford Fiesta both operate on the Otto cycle. 

If we were to put it into terms with the music world, the four-stroke gasoline engine would be your standard record player. It might have its downs, but the ups are unmeasurable at times. 

Now, we're trying to make the jump to digital tunes, but battery technology and charging infrastructure have left us at more of an eight-track level. It's different, but not necessarily better--and certainly holds less of what you want.

However, this article from MSNBC does show that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel for prospective buyers of the all-electric Nissan Leaf. There are already quick chargers that can charge car batteries in a matter of minutes instead of hours. They just lack universal standards for charging of this type. Could it be that ten years from now you pull up into a charging station instead of a filling station? Well, ten years might not be long enough for alternative electricity resources to be explored, but with how fast things go today... who knows?

Now, I didn't ever really get excited about electric cars... then I saw the video below.

Inside all of us, whether or not we let it out, is a kid like him. He is most definitely excited about the Tesla. This does mean that the electric car has potential.

When I got to college, I noticed that a lot of my friends who enjoyed listening to music were starting record collections. It makes perfect sense. A record is compression-free, and is real sound instead of a bunch of zeros and ones. The sound the needle makes scraping in the record's groove is amplified, that is all. No one that is into crummy pop music with auto-tune vocals will give a rat's behind about records. However, music that is worth listening to is still being made on records. People who still treat music as an art still print on vinyl because it is truer to the art of music. 

Pretty soon, once electric cars take over, you will know who the real gearheads are. They will be driving around making carbon dioxide and a ton of noise, instead of droning along in a sedated fashion. The people who truly love cars will still stick with the old Otto cycle, just like college kids that love music still listen to vinyl from time to time. 


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