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Old 26 July 2013, 03:54 PM
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Time for a new stupid questions thread!

It's at least possible to replace fossil-fuel ground transportation with alternative energy sources. Is it even conceivable to replace fossil-fuel-based mass transit in the air with alternative energy air transit?

Is there anything analogous to the Tesla Model S for aircraft?

There's been considerable interest in electric cars, though they haven't caught on. There have been documentaries about them and companies devoted to producing them.

The benefit of electric cars is supposed to be that they don't produce gaseous emissions themselves, and the power plants that provide their electricity produce lower emissions per mile than gas-powered cars do. It's not necessarily practical, but it's at least conceivable to someday replace gasoline engines with electric or hydrogen engines.

But airplanes are far more polluting than automobiles are.

What effort or research has there been into ways of providing practical commercial flight with fewer or no emissions? Is it conceivable to meet today's demand for flights with alternative energy sources?
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Old 26 July 2013, 04:07 PM
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Solar aircraft are a long way from being viable as mass transit, but there's certainly research and development going on, and they seem to work reasonably well in their own right:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22754126

That's got to be a necessary step on the way, at least.

Of course, there's always nuclear power:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_aircraft
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Old 26 July 2013, 04:23 PM
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Currently, the motors and batteries for electric cars are probably too heavy to be practical for aircraft. For example, the Tesla Model S weighs 4,600 lbs compared to something like 3,200 for a similar Mercedes.
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Old 26 July 2013, 05:34 PM
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Hydrogen could conceivably be used in a jet engine. Indeed there are research projects on that subject. The mass of the fuel and the engine would be similar to a fossil fueled engine. You would have added weight of the pressurized H2 tanks since a pressure rated tank is going to be heavier than a jet fuel tank. Still, some people that build aircraft think it might be possible.

Since H2 can be produced by a number of ways that don't depend on energy from fossil fuels the craft would be (nearly) zero polluting.

Now you just need a financially practical way to make that much hydrogen from renewable sources.
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Old 26 July 2013, 05:45 PM
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In the song "America" by Simon and Garfunkel, did the narrator meet his companion at the bus station in Pittsburgh, or have they been traveling together since Saginaw? I'd always thought it was the former, but Wikipedia's description makes it sound like the latter (I look up random stuff on Wikipedia when I'm bored). I always thought that in the line "It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw," for example, he was telling her about the first leg of his journey, which wouldn't be necessary if she had been with him. Not to mention he says "me", not "us". I think Wikipedia is wrong. What say you?
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Old 26 July 2013, 05:51 PM
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I don't know that hydrogen would be much better as (IMS) the biggest pollutant from jet engines is oxides of nitrogen, which are from the nitrogen in the air. Switching to hydrogen would reduce CO2 and HC, but not NOX.
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Old 26 July 2013, 05:53 PM
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Wildabeast -- They're together, and yet isolated from each other, I think -- at the end he's talking to her even though he knows she's asleep.

And maybe he hitchhiked from Saginaw to some other place in MI where they hooked up.
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Old 26 July 2013, 05:56 PM
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Why do we say we have "a tickle" in our throat when we cough? Isn't it more like an itch?
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Old 26 July 2013, 05:56 PM
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Solar powered airplane: http://www.solarimpulse.com/

I saw it when it was in Dallas.
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Old 26 July 2013, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
In the song "America" by Simon and Garfunkel, did the narrator meet his companion at the bus station in Pittsburgh, or have they been traveling together since Saginaw? I always thought that in the line "It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw," for example, he was telling her about the first leg of his journey, which wouldn't be necessary if she had been with him. Not to mention he says "me", not "us".
Given the way the song lapses from first person plural to first person singular for the line "It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw; I've gone to look for America," I'd interpret it to mean that the narrator set off from Michigan by himself to "look for America," and somewhere along the way he met a girl named Kathy who decided to join him.
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Old 26 July 2013, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
I don't know that hydrogen would be much better as (IMS) the biggest pollutant from jet engines is oxides of nitrogen, which are from the nitrogen in the air. Switching to hydrogen would reduce CO2 and HC, but not NOX.
It would eliminate CO2 and depending on what is deemed most damaging that might outweigh the lack of a large effect on NOx.

Of course if the H2 is used in a fuel cell, in conjunction with electric motors to drive props, then the NOx would be nearly eliminated as well.
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Old 26 July 2013, 08:27 PM
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Any reason why using an old kids sandbox to hold an herb garden would not be a good idea? Anything I'd need to do to it before I put the soil in & stuff?
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Old 26 July 2013, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
In the song "America" by Simon and Garfunkel, did the narrator meet his companion at the bus station in Pittsburgh, or have they been traveling together since Saginaw? I'd always thought it was the former, but Wikipedia's description makes it sound like the latter...
I haven't read Wikipedia's description, and I'd never thought about where exactly they met, but I had always taken the "It took me four days to hitch-hike from Saginaw" as clearly being an explanation from him to her as to where he had come from.

Listening to the song especially, I agree it's a little ambiguous as to where they met, but Pittsburgh bus station makes much more sense than Saginaw, for the reasons that you and snopes mention. I agree, it's clear that he left Saginaw on his own and met Kathy on the way.

(Excuse me, I have to get up to skip "In The Zoo" which is next on my iPod...)

(eta) That's better. I've put some Sepultura on instead. I don't listen to my music often enough...
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Old 26 July 2013, 08:54 PM
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I'd never thought about where exactly they met, but I had always taken the "It took me four days to hitch-hike from Saginaw" as clearly being an explanation from him to her as to where he had come from.
It's not clear to me whether the line about Saginaw is supposed to be a bit of reproduced dialog between the narrator and Kathy, or a statement the narrator is addressing to the listening audience.
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Old 26 July 2013, 08:59 PM
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Any reason why using an old kids sandbox to hold an herb garden would not be a good idea? Anything I'd need to do to it before I put the soil in & stuff?
Punch some holes for drainage and line it with gravel or something like that?
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Old 26 July 2013, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgaine View Post
Any reason why using an old kids sandbox to hold an herb garden would not be a good idea? Anything I'd need to do to it before I put the soil in & stuff?
What is the sandbox made out of, and how old is it?

While anything that was on treated wood or a component of paint or plastic that wouldn't be a good idea to eat from wouldn't be great for a child's sandbox either, it took some time to acknowledge that the old wood treatments weren't a good idea; and I don't know even now how careful they are about what kinds of plastics are used.

If you're confident on those grounds, then I'd just check to be sure it has drainage.
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Old 26 July 2013, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
It's not clear to me whether the line about Saginaw is supposed to be a bit of reproduced dialog between the narrator and Kathy, or a statement the narrator is addressing to the listening audience.
I took it as explaining to Kathy, but even if he's talking to the audience, he still says "me" not "us", as you pointed out.

I suppose there is an element of ambiguity that I'd not noticed before. But to me, the disconnect from Kathy is because they've only just met and are still laughing at superficial jokes, rather than because they've known each other a long time but still don't really know each other. If they'd known each other in Saginaw, I get the impression they wouldn't have gone "looking for America" together.

It's a great song whichever way you look at it...

(eta) Also the "I've got some real estate here in my bag" bit, after "Let us be lovers ..." - he's already living from his bag at that point. So at the earliest they met at Saginaw bus station while he was leaving. And not the bus station, because he was hitch-hiking then. So it has to be later.

Last edited by Richard W; 26 July 2013 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 26 July 2013, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Billion View Post
Time for a new stupid questions thread!

It's at least possible to replace fossil-fuel ground transportation with alternative energy sources. Is it even conceivable to replace fossil-fuel-based mass transit in the air with alternative energy air transit?
I think another alternative would be a lighter-than-air ship with propellors powered by electric motors. Wouldn't be as fast as a jetliner, but it would still be faster than walking, and would probably provide a lovely travel experience. The batteries could be supplemented/recharged by placing solar panels on the top of the gas bag.
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Old 26 July 2013, 09:36 PM
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I took it as explaining to Kathy, but even if he's talking to the audience, he still says "me" not "us", as you pointed out.
Yes, but if he's explaining to Kathy, then clearly he's talking about the current trip (or one he took previously). If he's talking to the audience, he might be describing a journey subsequent to the one he underwent with Kathy.
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Old 26 July 2013, 09:49 PM
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The problem with airships is that their landings are extremely sensitive to wind. A breeze that a jetliner would barely notice could prohibit an airship from landing or taking off.
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