I'm talking the late 1970s and early 1980s here.
If you think bull****ting people is new -- it's not.
I have always been a voracious reader. By the time I was about 13 I had read the entire 500-700 section of the local library. All of it, along with a fair bit of the other sections. My personal favorites were books related to lasers and masers, believe it or not, along with the various books written on Bobby Fischer's chess strategy.
At the time I had no formal, or even really much of an informal, education on thermodynamics. This was to vex me for quite some time.
You see, it was during that period of time that some of the so-called "mainstream science mags", including Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, started running articles here and there about an alleged 100mpg carburetor that big oil had suppressed. One of the proponents was a man by the name of Smoky Yunick, a car guy of some note.
Do remember that during this time there was the Arab Oil Embargo, and gas was both hard to get and rapidly going up in price. Suddenly that 8-10mpg, which was what pretty-much all the "full sized" cars got, wasn't so good. The promise of ten times that was strong, as you might expect.
The claim was that by vaporizing the gas, rather than metering it with very hot intake air/fuel mixtures you could get radically better fuel economy. More on the stupidity of that in a bit, but we'll continue.
My father had an old reel lawnmower with a 2.5HP Briggs engine on it. I had wanted to make a minibike out of the engine after Dad bought a rotary mower instead, but he wouldn't let me. Still, I had this engine on a nice metal mount (the old lawn mower), and he didn't give a crap about what I did with it, since it was "retired" although still in the garage.
So I set about trying to figure out how to optimize how it ran. First, with the existing updraw carburetor.
Next was an attempt to build such a vaporizer, complete with the heating since I happened to have a nice metal can of a muffler on the engine as a heat source.
I spent about a year on it -- and never succeeded. It simply never ran unless I used more fuel flow than the old-fashioned, 1960s-ish design. But.... but..... but.... I was promised, according to all these articles.
It was all bull****.
You see, the laws of thermodynamics are not a set of suggestions. The hotter air is the less-dense it is. The less dense, the fewer oxygen molecules per unit of space. The piston moves downward, opening space and admitting air. There's only so much room by volume. The more oxygen, the more fuel you can burn.
But it gets worse; the efficiency of an engine is defined by the difference between the temperature of combustion and that of exhaust. That's all there is to start with, and from there you must subtract losses which are inevitable and every time you convert energy from one form to another you accumulate those.
There are no exceptions.
What I was to learn later is that there's no such thing as a free lunch, there's no way to even break even, and there's no way to avoid playing the game. While it was certainly possible to get better fuel economy than we had at the time, and we have, it was impossible to get ten times the economy because when you take the two temperatures in Kelvin (combustion and exhaust) and then use that as a ratio on the BTUs in the fuel you can't get there from here; the alleged "benefit" is in fact more than 100% efficient, which is a free lunch and is impossible.
Yet this line of garbage was published in multiple alleged scientific-literate places. I didn't know at the time that they were full of crap. I first thought I was just not smart enough to figure out how to make it work, which of course led to me to believe that the claim that the oil companies had "suppressed" the technology was real. Those evil bastards were screwing us all, was the story line, and it was a good one.
What I learned later was that it was bull****, top to bottom, and I'd been had.
I was not happy to make this discovery, but it has informed my thought process and willingness to believe what is claimed by so-called "experts" and "knowledgeable people" since.
So if you wonder why I've spent the last year and change reading scientific papers and ignoring things that are obvious bull**** when I have several decades of physics, more books and magazines than I can count and a decent fundamental knowledge of chemistry, biology, physics, thermodynamics and of course data analysis behind me -- well, that's why.
You see if you're paying attention to what goes on around you and what's claimed you will notice all manner of things that make no sense. Like, for example, why would you engineer a vaccine that produces several times the antibodies in a human that are provided by a natural infection. That makes no sense. If one 325mg Aspirin produces headache relief you don't take three, five or ten of them at once for grins and giggles! It should be obvious that if there is a risk of bad side effects from one, and there always is with any drug, that the risk from three is higher. How much higher I'm not sure, but that it's higher is a certainty. I do remind you that during the 1918 Pandemic people poisoned themselves this way; "some is good, more is better" -- with Aspirin! Nope.
When you see something that appears to make no sense there is an explanation. It may be nothing more complicated than stupidity, but among those who claim to be skilled in a given art or science this is rare. If its true then you are truly dealing with idiots, as is the case with so many "coders" today; the reason they insist on Internet access at their desks is that they can't actually code at all; they look up whatever they need on stackoverflow, find something plausible and then copy it, often without understanding how it works! Yes, companies are dumb enough to pay such people.
That which contradicts physics is never true. The day it is is the day we've discovered warp drive for real; we have a real-life, no-bull**** Zefram Cochrane in our midst, a greater mind than Einstein, Bell and Edison combined -- by far. Until that day arrives and is proved this is fiction and anyone who so-claims is lying
I have spent the last 15 years as an independent journalist. I won the Reed Irvine Accuracy In Media award for my coverage of the meltdown of 2007/08; I simply followed the basics of mathematics and, when I found companies that were claiming the impossible I called bull**** on it repeatedly and loudly. For this, and after multiple appearances on the major national networks, I earned a blackball from all the major media; it's not acceptable to attack someone who is on their knees praying before Zod -- when Zod is paying the advertising bills. Since I considered the truth more important than being invited on various TeeVee shows I'm no longer welcome. So be it.
I understand how many various public "faces" have a road to travel, like it or not, with guardrails on both sides. They're "cute" from a standpoint of whatever the audience and advertisers want. But they won't touch some of the biggest scams and frauds facing us today, even the ones that might kill you, because someone is writing a check to their "outlet" and they simply cannot******those people off.
Don't ever believe, however, that the problems we face today with incurious so-called "journalists" and such are new. They're not. 10 minutes with a professor or even myself, ten years later after I'd had a couple of years of physics, before those magazines published the articles on that 100mpg carburetor would have made clear, with facts and math, that the article they were about to run was pure bull****.
They never asked, they never checked, and they ran it anyway some 40-odd years ago.
That hasn't changed a bit.