SCIENCE 1919 : The Ultimate Renewable Energy Source

In 1919, the world had just about run out of fossil fuels. But scientists came to the rescue with the ultimate renewable energy source.

Screenshot 2016-01-25 at 02.53.17 PM

4 Oct 1919, Page 47 – at

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19 Responses to SCIENCE 1919 : The Ultimate Renewable Energy Source

  1. willys36 says:

    First go down to the Five and Dime and get me a really big spool of copper wire. Then go find me a big truck with a flat bed to mount the spool . . . . .

  2. Neal S says:

    I suppose they neglected to consider the electrical losses in those long wires. Nothing that superconductivity might not be able to solve. But without higher temperature superconductors, the power requirements to keep the superconducting wires adequately chilled will likely be much more than any energy that is harvested. Oh well.

  3. Hugo Gernsback? I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that name somewhere.

    So, you’ll need to have some pretty heavy copper wire to carry the current you’ll be generating. Probably a foot in diameter or so. And 25000 miles of it for every turn, and he suggests 75-100 turns. That would be 1.9-2.5 million miles by 0.785ft², or 10.3×10⁹ cubit feet of copper. How long would it take to return the amount of energy expended on smelting that?

  4. Robertv says:

    Monday is the warmest January 25 on record

    After last week’s sub-zero conditions, Monday became the warmest January 25 on record, with the temperature reaching 13.4C at the De Bilt weather station.

    The previous record of 13.3C dates from 1990.

    In Maastricht, the temperature rose to as high as 16.2C, equalling the previous record set almost ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

  5. gator69 says:

    Science 2016: Infinite Human Stupidity

  6. Somebody should design a system whereby we carefully engineer a self-replicating device that sequesters solar energy in chemical form over thousands or millions of years. Since this would be continuous and wide-spread, it should be able to give us reserves for a while, you know.

  7. AndyG55 says:

    OT, but rather cute

  8. And since this would slow down the Earth in its orbit, it would move us closer to the Sun (gradually). Which would cause warming, right?

  9. Reminds me of a National Lampoon gag making fun of R Bucky Fuller–a dome envelops the planet!

    • Jason Calley says:

      That would be financially attractive. You could save a lot of money by not needing to build a foundation wall.

      🙂 I think…

  10. Beale says:

    Probably ever since fossil fuels were discovered, experts have been warning that we were about to run out of them.

    • gator69 says:

      History of ‘Peak Oil’


      • 1857 — Romania produces 2,000 barrels of oil, marking the beginning of the modern oil industry.

      • 1859, Aug. 25 — Edwin L. Drake strikes oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania

      • 1862 — First commercial oil production in Canada, also 1863 in Russia.

      • 1862 — Most widely used lamp fuel (camphene) taxed in US at aprox. $1 a gallon; kerosene taxed at 10 cent per gallon.(Kovarik, 1997)

      • 1863 — John D. Rockefeller starts the Excelsior Refinery in Cleveland, Ohio.

      • 1879 — US Geological Survey formed in part because of fear of oil shortages.

      • 1882 — Institute of Mining Engineers estimates 95 million barrels of oil remain.With 25 million barrels per year output, “Some day the cheque will come back indorsed no funds, and we are approaching that day very fast,” Samuel Wrigley says. (Pratt, p. 124).

      • 1901 — Spindletop gusher in Texas floods US oil market.

      • 1906 — Fears of an oil shortage are confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Representatives of the Detroit Board of Commerce attended hearings in Washington and told a Senate hearing that car manufacturers worried “not so much [about] cost as … supply.”

      • 1919, Scientific American notes that the auto industry could no longer ignore the fact that only 20 years worth of U.S. oil was left. “The burden falls upon the engine. It must adapt itself to less volatile fuel, and it must be made to burn the fuel with less waste…. Automotive engineers must turn their thoughts away from questions of speed and weight… and comfort and endurance, to avert what … will turn out to be a calamity, seriously disorganizing an indispensable system of transportation.”

      • 1920 — David White, chief geologist of USGS, estimates total oil remaining in the US at 6.7 billion barrels. “In making this estimate, which included both proved reserves and resources still remaining to be discovered, White conceded that it might well be in error by as much as 25 percent.” (Pratt, p. 125. Emphasis added).

      • 1925 — US Commerce Dept. says that while U.S. oil production doubled between 1914 and 1921, it did not kept pace with fuel demand as the number of cars increased.

      • 1928 — US analyst Ludwell Denny in his book “We Fight for Oil” noted the domestic oil shortage and says international diplomacy had failed to secure any reliable foreign sources of oil for the United States. Fear of oil shortages would become the most important factor in international relations, even so great as to force the U.S. into war with Great Britain to secure access to oil in the Persian Gulf region, Denny said.

      • 1926 — Federal Oil Conservation Board estimates 4.5 billion barrels remain.

      • 1930 — Some 25 million American cars are on the road, up from 3 million in 1918.

      • 1932 — Federal Oil Conservation Board estimates 10 billion barrels of oil remain.

      • 1944 — Petroleum Administrator for War estimates 20 billion barrels of oil remain.

      • 1950 — American Petroleum Institute says world oil reserves are at 100 billion barrels. (See Jean Laherre, Forecast of oil and gas supply)

      • 1956 — M.King Hubbard predicts peak in US oil production by 1970.

      • 1966 – 1977 — 19 billion barrels added to US reserves, most of which was from fields discovered before 1966. (As M.A. Adelman notes: “These fields were no gift of nature. They were a growth of knowledge, paid for by heavy investment.”)

      • 1973 — Oil price spike; supply restrictions due to Middle Eastern politics.

      • 1978 — Petroleos de Venezuela announces estimated unconventional oil reserve figure for Orinoco heavy oil belt at between three and four trillion barrels. (More recent public estimates are in the one trillion range).

      • 1979 — Oil price spike; supply restrictions due to Middle Eastern politics.

      • 1980 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 648 billion barrels

      • 1993 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 999 billion barrels

      • 2000 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 1016 billion barrels.

      • 2005 — Oil price spike; supply restrictions and heavy new demand

      • 2008 — Oil price spike; supply restrictions and heavy new demand, global economies collapse when oil reaches over $140 USD/bbl.

      Oil reserves have declined from 95 million barrels in 1882, to well over a trillion barrels in 2011. We will probably run out in a few centuries at the rate we are consuming the oil. A simple solution for high efficient vehicles is already available – as soon as someone figures out how to install air conditioning and all wheel drive on a motorcycle…. No, it is not an error in numbers or statement – just a little sarcasm.

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