I read a lot of scientific texts on all sides of the fence and am always amazed at how often opposing groups both have “adequate” data to back up a hypothesis. Quantum physics comes to mind, with its concepts being spread not only in scientific communities but spiritual communities as well. Will we ever know the truth?
Terry

I am writing to express my appreciation of your editorial. The basic point is one which needs to be stressed (especially outside the research community, where most folks already know the basic underlying issue). And your phraseology “...haul out peer-reviewed research... and wave them ... as though warding off vampires with a crucifix,” is particularly felicitous.
Jack Lloyd

the perfect car
The letter regarding working people needing working vehicles (Letters, Jan. 14) got me thinking. The problem is that vehicles cost too much for most people to own more than one or two. Thus, each vehicle must be versatile enough to meet several needs and so ends up as a compromise that does not excel at fulfilling any one. As the letter writer states, he really needs a -ton truck but the mileage is too poor for everyday driving. And even the half-ton trucks he and his wife settled for are not that good on the highway.

Not being enamored with surrounding myself in fancy sheet metal (like the knights of old) to display my status, I have a problem finding inexpensive yet versatile transportation. I ran two Nissan Frontiers into the ground, but the latest version is merely a jackedup four-door sedan with an open trunk. So I tried a Ford Ranger with a 2.3-liter engine, but it only gets 14 mpg. (The old Frontiers got at least 20 mpg.)

When I commuted to work, I would drive 10 miles each way by myself. A motorcycle was out of the question due to safety and comfort considerations. What really would have worked well is a battery-powered two-seater I could plug in at work to recharge for the trip home. But it would have to have been inexpensive so that I could afford another car dedicated to family trips as well as a separate small car for my wife to run errands and get to work.
George Binns

To reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have to change our means of transportation, primarily commuter transportation. Here’s my idea, the Public Personal Mover, and reasons behind it.

Public mass transportation for commuters is so inefficient that even with incentives, it will never be but a marginal choice for the general public. Trains and buses make stops, and buses get stuck in traffic jams just like cars. Still, we have to wean people away from using 3,000-lb vehicles to take one person back and forth between the same destinations five days a week.

The Public Personal Mover would let you decide where and when to go, and get there without stopping, waiting, or transfers. It would have most the advantages of personal vehicles without the disadvantages of mass transportation such as wasting energy on too few or no passengers. The mover would weigh about 200 lb, be propelled by an electric motor, and ride along a rail which would also supply power. The rail would be above the streets and highway medians. Users would summon a single or two-seat version at a station by cell phone or other PDA. Once seated, users enter destinations with GPS technology. The mover would then roll from the station to the main rail and navigate through the network to your destination without stopping. Computers would control the logistics of seamless entry and exit to and from the main rail and junctions and prevent collisions. Such a system could be built along highway medians from the commuter parking lots into the city and be expanded as its popularity increased. Experience will show how many cabins would be needed at any given time and location.

Without some revolutionary change in our everyday behavior we will never be able to even make a dent in our ever-increasing energy consumption.
Fred Rapp

One thing I don’t like about your idea is the rail. You’re limited to only going where the rail goes. If the rail stops a half mile from your house, how do you finish your trip in bad weather or if you’re carrying something heavy? This is the same problem with most modern publictransportation systems. What is my 120-lb wife supposed to do with 40 lb of groceries when this thing drops her off some distance from the house in 10°F weather? Transfer the stuff to a car? I know her well enough to know she wouldn’t even consider this alternative. For your idea to work, I believe you would have to string a rail literally to every doorstep in America.

I think you are better off forgetting the rail and hope for a source of electrical power with enough capacity to just get us from point A to B. This is the number-one research topic at automakers right now. —
Leland Teschler

Impossibly thin
I really enjoyed the article on Chevy’s new engine (“Chevy’s RO7 racing engine: A chip off the old small block,” Feb. 7). But in the third to last paragraph, it says a water passage in the engine block is 0.00001-in. wide. This seems quite narrow. Is it a typo?
John Zambito

We received several letters and phone calls asking if the width of the water passage in the Chevy RO7 engine was really 0.00001 in. In fact, the figure should have been 0.1 in. The editor misheard one-hundred thousands as one-hundred thousandth.
— Editor

Gadget guesses
Is that a Renault Robin? Sure looks similar.
David

This looks like a version of an “AeroCar”. (This would be the car portion.)
Berry

That gadget is a gyrocar.
James

The gadget is the infamous Revette or Dale as it was later known. It was presented in a stock swindle by a cross-dressing man.
Jerry

This looks like a Dymaxion car designed by Buckminster Fuller.
Edward

Name that gadget
Be the first to identify this device from a past issue of Machine Design and win a fabulous prize, along with the honor of seeing your name in an upcoming issue, e-mail entries to smraz@penton.com and put “Gadget” in the subject line.

No one correctly identified the vehicle that first appeared in the Feb. 7 “Name that Gadget.” It is the prototype for an electric, threewheeled vehicle built for the Swedish telecommunications administration in 1981. It could carry one person plus 100 lb of cargo and ran off four 12-V batteries. Charging took 10 hr and it would get 30 miles/charge.

Name that gadget

Be the first to identify this device from a past issue of Machine Design and win a fabulous prize, along with the honor of seeing your name in an upcoming issue, e-mail entries to smraz@penton.com and put “Gadget” in the subject line.

No one correctly identified the vehicle that first appeared in the Feb. 7 “Name that Gadget.” It is the prototype for an electric, threewheeled vehicle built for the Swedish telecommunications administration in 1981. It could carry one person plus 100 lb of cargo and ran off four 12-V batteries. Charging took 10 hr and it would get 30 miles/charge.