There really is no excuse for 30 years of innovation... for gas mileage to have gone down.
The only way this works is if cars remain exactly the same while improving only the engine technology. In 1981, the Honda Accord was 175" long, 64: wide and weighed 2,083 lbs. The 1.8L engine made 75hp. A current Accord is 191" long, 72" wide and weighs 3,287 lbs. Its 2.0L engine makes 154hp. The power-displacement ratio of the engine went up by 84% but the weight went up by more than 50%. As long as people want faster/bigger/more we will eat up any efficiency gains to have more comfort. Only when forced will the average person use efficiency to decrease consumption.
Batteries are already good enough.
...for many applications. For a significant portion of people's driving needs battery powered vehicles are great. For the rest they absolutely fail. No amount of money will get me to trade the 4x4 diesel used at my family's ranch for existing electric car technology. The qualities that make liquid fuel attractive cannot be touched in this application. I can carry a whole Prius battery pack of energy in a couple external cans of diesel on my trailer.
Regarding emissions, I am going to have to argue that the jury is still out on that. While the battery powered car itself has zero emissions, the power had to be generated someplace. While some are quick to jump in to offer solar or wind power, iirc charging a Tesla S is the equivalent of adding half an average house's load on the power grid in off peak hours. Solar and wind work best when the sun is out, so other power sources will be required when it is dark out. That means coal, nat. gas or my favorite, nuclear. As of today, electric cars displace emissions, not eliminate them. Electric cars are part of our transportation future. A perfect alternative they are not.
"Mining BitCoins these days requires a specialist rig featuring graphic cards so using low-powered embedded systems is not terribly practical. "Kudos to camera DVRs hackers for finding something worse (ie, very ineffective cryptocurrency mining) to use them for than surveillance,"
While I recognize a low power system is not likely to find the next BitCoin, isn't there at least a non-zero chance of any system mining to be successful? Nobody in their right mind wanting to mine Bitcoins would start out by saying "let's design our engine using a 386SX CPU" but offered a bunch of them for free, wouldn't it still make sense to add their compute power to the big picture so long as it is capable of running the software?
If the odds truly are zero (not almost zero) then what these guys did is a complete waste of time. If not non-zero then using surveillance cameras to mine Bitcoins is a big middle finger to TPTB and hardly "dim witted.""
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but it is just a matter of time before there is a breakthrough in battery or power supply technology
Why do you think this is true? Further, even if there is a breakthrough in storage technology, some other factor may make it unusable, e.g. toxicity, chemical instability, throughput, scalability, cost, etc. We have reached a point that we are pushing the limits of the elements themselves. The entire model for electric cars depends on the power to weight ratios available only with rare earth magnets. I am all for thinking about what could be possible, but if you bank on technological breakthrough you will find yourself broke.
Sam Brentano, chairman of the Marion County board of commissioners, said "We thought our ordinance excluded this type of material at the waste-to-energy facility. We will take immediate action to ensure a process is developed to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries.""
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