QI (Quite Ignorant) example number 2In the Telegraph a few days ago (now I’m not so stupid as to believe much if anything written in this paper), someone has written in saying that we should all be driving steam powered cars because they do not pollute as much as petrol cars. And it’s been printed as if the guy is serious.So again, it’s not just that the idiot writing is ignorant, but the editor is so dumb he can’t work out for himself this is just absurd.Consider how does a steam engine works - you burn fuel (usually coal) to heat the water to create steam to drive a piston. You can use any combustant of course, even petrol (which would be a lot more efficient than coal). Even this record breaking steam powered car uses LPG to boil the water. And it got to a rather measly 140 mph.Anyway, to the point. How can anyone think that burning petrol (or worse, coal) to heat water to create steam to push a cylinder is going to be more efficient than just burning the petrol in the cylinder directly? The guy’s an idiot and the editor’s an idiot for printing it. This doesn’t require you to be a scientist, it probably requires you passed an O-Level science. (So that would be an A-level nowadays).So even using the most efficient steam turbine, instead of cylinders, (which this record breaking car does) it’s still really, really not going to be likely heating water to produce steam to drive anything is going to be very efficient, or green. And think of all the water that would be required! We'd have to fill up not just with petrol (or coal) but also stop every few miles a fill up with water to generate the steam. Just a like a steam train does.Double aarrrarrragg.The level of technical ignorance in this country is truly staggering. Depressing..An optical illusionCreating this website and messing with various colour backgrounds I just discovered a great optical illusion. Below are two rounded rectangle panels, but on different backgrounds. One of them is a slighter lighter or brighter colour. Which is it?If you’re familiar with optical illusions, you’ll probably guess that in fact both panels above are exactly the same colour. For some reason the grey background under the right example makes the left one look more grey. Weird.You owe everything you have to Science & EngineeringIt annoys the hell out of me when I see anti-capitalist demonstrations, more so when I see criticism that ‘science is bad’ or somehow evil. Science gets a bad rap, more so as time goes by. It should not.The diminishing importance of science and engineering, the increase of pseudo-science, religions increasingly dominated by extremist views and increased technical illiteracy are portents for a much poorer future for western economies. Luckily for the human race some countries (China, ironically) understand the importance of science & engineering and have a strong capitalist or entrepreneurial spirit. (Having travelled in China 4 or 5 times, I can say they are the most capitalist nation on earth right now. They also have far less state control and interference in their daily lives than any modern western economy. By many criteria, they are more free in China than we are in the West). The result is that we’ll all become more reliant on China, and Asia generally.China really will be the greatest, most powerful, nation on earth within a generation. While the Western economies produce more lawyers than engineers, this is inevitable and unavoidable.People should never forget that almost every positive aspect of modern society, of your life, is a direct result of science. I'm taking about the absolute basics here (admittedly from a very western society point of view);•Being able to feed yourself•Access to fresh water, for free•To live in comfort in an uncomfortable (often worse) climate•Access to almost miraculous medical and dental care•An education (so you can read this)•Books•Music•Incredible communication capabilities•To live to an average age of 70 years or more•To be able to travel the world.•Your HealthNot forgetting the more superficial benefits of a civilised world such such as TV, Internet, Cinema, and more. (OK, I know that the Internet should not be called trivial, and I agree it has as great a potential as any technology before it.)ALL the above is a result of science, and more specifically a combination of science and capitalism. Almost every aspect of a modern, civilised society, even so called ‘primitive’ societies is based on science.It is the natural state of the human being to want to improve his lot, by whatever means he can. It is the natural state of human beings to be curious, to want to learn, to explore. That is basically what drives science and capitalism and the advance of all mankind’s lot.Sure, science has been responsible for some evils, but the benefits outweigh, I mean majorly outweigh, the negatives. We live in a utopia compared with previous generations (I'm thinking over a period of centuries). It wasn't long ago, that none of the above benefits were available to the general population. Now most westerners take these things for granted. Many don’t even give them a second thought.And those who think that somehow science is bad, that capitalism is bad, that perhaps we'd be better off in a simpler world, a more old-fashioned world haven't got a clue. They don’t get it. They're hypocrites, benefiting from everything that science and capitalism has given them, and then criticising the foundations upon which their lives are built and lived.
A web log, a test of my web design software, stories about the absurd, the dumb & interesting stuff.
My spell checker tells me there is no such word as combustant, which is weird. Even Dictionary.com says it’s not a word. That’s even more weird. It is a word surely? You know what I mean anyway, ‘something that burns’.