Capacitors, AC and Comets

A little bit of a roundup of interesting tidbits today.

First, from a couple stories… BMW is working on “Super Capacitors” that will take the place of the battery packs that you find in todays Hybrid cars. Current Hybrids, like the Prius and Civic Hybrid store their electrical power in batteries. Batteries are heavy, ineffecient and prone to needing replacement periodically. Capacitors, on the other hand, can be charged and discharged 100% for eternity. Ok, I’m exagerating, but when was the last time you heard of a capacitor needing to be replaced? Pretty much every electrical device that you and I use has at least one capacitor. So BMWs strategy makes sense. They’re also working on cars that use Hydrogen, not for fuel cells, but for the actual fuel like you burn gas now. Perhaps a different approach to reaching the “hydrogen economy”.

Next, treehugger points out a study on Air Conditioning in cars and how the cooling benefits combine with fuel efficiency when the windows are up or down with A/C on or off. The results are fairly predictable. A/C is a huge gas guzzler in the city and having your windows down will cool off your buddies in the backseat faster anyway. But at highway speed, A/C makes less of a difference and windows down is both irritating and not very effective.

Moral of the story for me? Drive a convertible in the summer and buy some sunscreen. 😉

And finally, yet another spacerock is hurtling toward Earth at frightening speed! It’s a Comet this time… which means it’s smaller than your average earth crushing asteroid, but it moves a whole lot quicker. So this one, if it hit in 2085 would unleash 6 gigatons (that’s 6 billion tons… Hiroshima was less than 1 million tons I believe.) of TNT on our poor little planet. Theres only a 1 in 120 milion chance of it hitting, so I guess I won’t be too upset that I probably won’t be around to watch it graze the hairs on our collective heads.

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