Automaker's bailout

These are two ideas that the automakers can implement in order to get back on their feet.  


Have you ever held on to a favorite car or purchased a used one only to discover that the car has or is developing electrical problems? Sometimes the problem is so darn exasperating that you would rather give up the car.

Today, with integrated circuits so inexpensive, it is possible to create a car electrical control network. Here's how it will work: There is routed thoughout the car a single wire. That wire--we'll call it the Grid-- will carry positive current AND a signal that piggy-backs on it (this technology already exists--it's used to control household appliances from your computer). Every device in the car (starter, radio, window motor, car seat motor, lights, etc.) connects to an individualized module that is attached to the Grid. The module only supplies the device with power if the module receives a signal from the grid. Input devices also attach to modules that attach to the Grid and these place the necessary signal on the grid.

The signal consists of 2 or more parts: an identifier section that might say, "the next command is intended for the passenger side window motor," and the actual command section that might say, "Open the window slightly."

This new wiring paradigm will practically eliminate present day wiring problems and aid immensely in troubleshooting any problems that do arise.

The second idea I have is to build a chassis that will last for several generations (think BMW, Rolls Royce). The automobile companies continue to make money by selling people a shell to go on top of the sturdy chassis. People would be able to buy a pick-up shell, a sedan shell, or any custom built shell that they might want. They could more readily keep up with the Joneses because they are only buying a shell to put on their chassis. This saves on steel. Also the electronic components can be easily salvaged from the shell and re-used. Initially, the car companies would build a chassis with an internal combustion engine but, later, people would be able to upgrade to hydrogen or other sources.

I think it is a win-win situation for the car companies, the people, and the environment.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less