October 12th, 2007

Ann Vole

4 engines are better then one?

The latest buzz in safety and performance is these all wheel drive (AWD) vehicles that can change how much torque goes to each wheel. AWD with variable torque can improve turning and stopping safety on slippery surfaces and can also prevent vehicles from tipping over or otherwise loosing more control when the vehicle is no longer moving in the direction of the tires. These transmission systems are complex and require lots of linkages to each tire. Each of these linkages causes a loss in energy and an increased weight and increased complexity with resulting increased cost and chance of failures. AWD has proven to be better for fuel economy though due to energy losses in the tires being exponentially higher in relation to the torque on the tire so half the torque will mean several times less energy loss in those tires. I figure an engine dedicated to each tire can possibly reduce all that extra transmission and linkages while still providing all the advantages of AWD with variable torque on each tire. I also think that smaller engines can be "hidden" in the design easier making for more usable space in the vehicle without extra vehicle size (and the losses of extra weight and air drag that come from bigger vehicles). Also if the weight of the engines is close to the tires, the vehicle frame can be smaller/lighter from not needing to support a bigger engine and transmission in some central location. Many drag racing vehicles have shown that such a multi-engine set up works and does not cause significant safety issues. Now with a hybrid design (energy is created and stored in a temporary form and then used by a different type of engine such as electric motors), this sort of distribution is even easier but on the energy creation side, allows for an unlimited number of engines to be creating the hybrid energy form (usually electricity stored in batteries or a capacitor). these little power plants can be placed anywhere in the vehicle and the transmission of the energy to the motors near the tires is done with wires (for electricity... or pipes for hydraulic power of pneumatic power versions of hybrids). One problem with my theory is the efficiency of smaller engines compared to bigger ones. For standard piston engines, bigger ones always seem to be more efficient per horsepower then smaller ones. That relationship may be different for other types of engines
Ann Vole

why animals cannot talk?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2WPBoJTttE

from that clip, you can see how brain speed and thus word speed can make it hard to understand... including the slow speaking of the "normal" characters when the shots were slowed down. I am wondering if the reluctance many animals have to even try speaking (which YouTube videos show that animals can try to speak but few try) is due to the speed of the words being wrong for their brain's word speed comprehension. Look at a mouse running and they take dozens of steps a second and see them running on tight string or other odd surfaces shows that they are thinking about where their feet go. This proves in my mind that they are thinking at a much higher speed then humans (which makes sense when everything is smaller resulting in less distance for signals to go on the sensory, processing and movement signals). Many animals send signals via smells or actions instead of verbal means so that might affect the speed that they process "language" signals.