Friday, September 01, 2006


You open the newspaper and yet another apartment building has burned to the ground. The cause of the fire? A candle.

Fire is one of man's earliest technologies. But today the idea of an open flame is sad. An open flame is an open invitation for problems, whether it is a candle, a burning cigarette or a log burning in the fireplace, it is a problem waiting to happen. Because the cat jumps up on the table and knocks the candle over, or the smoke falls asleep, or the log rolls out of the fireplace onto the carpet.

Our cars are currently powered by flame in the internal combustion engine, and here too flame is sad. It is an incredibly wasteful way to use fuel -- the modern ICE is only about 20% efficient.

But when will the transition occur? When will we look at candles and say, "no more"? Will it be an easy transition, or will it involve a decade of debate?