30 MPG · 14 September 2019
I was astounded when I realized I got 30 miles per gallon (MPG) on my old Camry. Not around 30. Above 30.
I know that I do not always do easy math very well (which is a completely different story), but I was amazed when I calculated that I had gotten just over 30 MPG over a weekend. Sure, I was driving almost all highway miles, but I had to deal with Seattle area traffic on two of the four long trips. And a little delay on a shorter trip. Just over 400 miles in four or five days. And it only took 13.3 gallons of regular gasoline. That is just over 30 miles per gallon.
After I did the calculation in my head three or four times (just to make sure I was not mistaken), I did some thinking. Not about the math. About our society and science and technology and a whole bunch of other thoughts. And I was disappointed. Again. I was disappointed that here we are about 40 years from when those little Hondas were getting well over 30 MPG and we are still excited about cars getting 30 MPG.
I remember being a teenager wondering when cars would get 50 MPG. Back then, I figured we would have those 50 MPG cars in no time at all. I thought that surely those 50 MPG cars would come about before the turn of the century. But no such luck. Which is why I was disappointed.
When I calculated my cars MPG, I was surely disappointed that we do not have those 50 MPG vehicles yet, but I was even more disappointed that we think 50 MPG is amazing. Amazing for hybrid cars. Think about it. If those little Hondas were getting over 30 MPG in the eighties, why are we so excited that hybrids only get 50 MPG nowadays? It baffles me. Or maybe I do not get science and technology. Or maybe I am just confused.
Well, not being a conspiracy theorist or at least not one who subscribes to any conspiracy theories, it still makes me wonder. It makes me wonder why we have not had any breakthroughs in gasoline technology. Are combustion engines the best they can be? I doubt it. I believe there is more there. And the reason I believe it is because of computers.
Computers and computer technology have been operating under Moore’s Law since at least 1965 when Gordon Moore proposed it. That is to say that computer technology has continued to get smaller in size and bigger in computing power and lower in cost since then. And it continues to do so despite the predictions that it could only last a couple decades. Some people even project that it will continue into the next decade. So why have there been no breakthroughs like this in automotive technology, specifically combustion engines? Some people will answer, the Laws of Thermodynamics. Others will answer that there have certainly been breakthroughs, but conspiracies have kept them from us.
Certainly there are physical and chemical laws that cannot be broken. But there may be some truth to those cockamamie conspiracy theories. After all, we do not yet inject a specific number of molecules of gasoline into the combustion chambers. Even though it seems feasible to do so. Or at least theoretically possible to do so. That would certainly help efficiency and fuel economy. And who knows. Maybe conspiracy theorists are right and breakthroughs like this have already happened, but are being kept from us.
Who knows the truth? It certainly is out there somewhere. But we might not ever know it in this lifetime.
I know it seems strange, but all these thoughts came about because of a simple calculation (that I really did in my head) after filling up my car. That realization that my little Camry got over 30 miles per gallon.
© 2019 Michael T. Miyoshi
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