Re: Technology Prediction

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Tue May 02 2006 - 17:56:37 MDT

On 5/2/06, Bob Seidensticker <> wrote:
> I read an article about flywheel cars in the 70s, I recall (Scientific
> American?). Apparently, a flywheel can in theory hold roughly as much
> energy as a tank of gas.

Apart from the other reasons mentioned, flywheels are a nonstarter for
safety reasons alone I'm afraid. Petrol is pretty safe (exploding cars are a
Hollywood fantasy), but with a flywheel, if something goes wrong all the
energy gets released in one shot. In the form of kinetic energy, which is
far deadlier than thermal. Worse yet, not even radiated in all directions
like a conventional bomb, but directed in a plane at street level so the
lethal radius would be much larger. A flywheel with the energy of 10 gallons
of petrol would have the energy of more than a quarter ton of TNT, but based
on the above reasoning about form and direction, arguably much greater
lethality; I don't know how to calculate the effects, but a single crashing
or malfunctioning vehicle would appear capable of killing people and
destroying property - including other vehicles - at a radius of hundreds of

Now imagine a city full of these at rush hour, and imagine just one of them
crashes or has a malfunction...

(Not SL4, I know, but I think it's worth putting the flywheel thing to rest,
I've seen it come up before and the safety issue doesn't seem to get pointed

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