OK, hybrid-ize this

Hybrid automobiles are catching on, and good luck to them. From what I've seen of the Prius, I'll keep my Malibu for a few more years. I wish that turbodiesels were more widely available for minivans---a VW Eurovan TDI would be killer.

Going on a limb here, it seems that the biggest challenge to making a hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle is making space for the batteries that store electricity, a place where the weight of the batteries has less impact on ride and handling. I'd rather solve a different problem, such as the need for the batteries at all.

So how about a smaller reciprocating engine like a Stelzer, integrated with an electric alternator. The frequency ("RPM"?) of the Stelzer can be high, in the kilohertz range, so the transformers built to step the voltage down or up can be smaller and lighter. The Stelzer has only one real moving part, and it can be made very compact. Each end of the piston carries a magnet, and windings surrounding the piston ends capture the pistons' reciprocation as alternating current.

From the alternator, cables run to smaller motors at each wheel. Perhaps these motors, optimized for the higher frequencies of the Stelzer-powered alternator, can be made smaller and lighter too. They'll be out at the wheels, needing no mechanical transmission or differential to deliver the torque to the wheels, and can provide all-wheel drive for better traction and handling. This arrangement can make all-wheel steering easier to implement too.

If the motors can be built to operate as alternators as well as motors, then the motors can be turned into brakes, recovering the energy from braking and converting it back into current. This current could be used to accelerate a flywheel mounted practically anywhere in the vehicle. When the red light turns to green, the flywheel is tapped for that energy, dumping it back to the wheel motors. This smoothes out the peaks and valleys of power demand so the Stelzer can run efficiently and cleanly at a more constant RPM.

This sounds to me like a system that can be retrofitted to existing vehicles. A Stelzer motor-alternator is not going to take up as much space as a V6 with transaxle. The flywheel might be a challenge: will precession become a problem? And I'm clueless as to how to get a Stelzer motor started---maybe using the alternator windings as motors? But most of the existing drivetrain, and a lot of weight, would simply be wrecked out.


Dishpan hands

I've taken a few days off recently to straighten up the house. We're almost done and ready to show the place off to interested buyers.

A lot of caulking of windows, sweeping of the garage and basement, and scrubbing of handrails and such.

Very busy.


What Screenwriters Want

Watching What Women Want last night, Barbaloot and I wondered whether the story line originated from a man or from a woman. After batting that thought around for a while, I wondered why Mel Gibson's character was not hearing any bitter, catty, harsh, or even downright evil internal dialog through his accidentally acquired womans'-thought-reading powers: "It's about time Nina found a few new dress. And those shoes!" "God these cramps are killing me." "Bill wants to get together tonight? Oh come on, he can't service a cat with that thing." "One or two more 8l0w708s on that guy in accounting and I can launch my suit and own this company."

It's as if women never think bad things---they're chronically misunderstood victims of the blundering inattention (or inattentive blunders?) of us competitive penis-driven Y-chromo-bearing oafs. I beg to differ. In fact, victimhood often begets evil, if one chooses to embrace victimhood and turn it to a claim against the world.

Barbaloot also noted that Shallow Hal is built on a very similar premise, that chronically misunderstood women not only think only wholesome thoughts, but that they are all wonderful people on the inside, regardless of outward appearance. (We both enjoy that movie, BTW.)

Hal saw only beautiful people, male or female, child through senior, because their outward appearances no longer distracted him from Humanity's Universal Internal Beauty. There were no hotties whom Hal saw as repulsive wart-ridden demons because their internal evil was visible only to him. This represents not an ability to see things as they are, a lifting of the veil so to speak, but trading glasses of one color for another color equally or more distorting.

So now there are two movies I'd like to see, instead of seeing What Screenwriters Want and how Shallow stereotypes are. A movie wherein the subject hears the bad as well as the good, and another wherein the subject sees the bad as well as the good. We don't mind whether the subjects turn out to be Really Nice Changed Guys in the end, or even whether they Get the Girl in the end either. In fact, such experiences are likely to challenge any person's ability to stay sane, let alone choose the right path.

If any cinephile knows of such films already made and waiting for us, Barbaloot and I would appreciate the pointer.