Illustration cropped and rigged from my own painting ‘Purple Girl’
The tossup this morning is between writing about a British study that says men under stress prefer curvaceous/voluptuous women and a Pakistani engineer’s claim that he has invented a fuel kit that can run cars on water.
So let me see if I can fuse the two. If only there was some way for a stressed out man to take his curvaceous woman on a long drive in a water fueled car! There, the two have been successfully combined.
It seems these days a stressed out Pakistan, particularly its men, are looking for anything to lift their spirits. Widespread news reports suggest that they may have found it in a moffusil* engineer named Agha Waqar Ahmad who claims his water kit can run cars on water. The assertion, dismissed by many scientists as a fantasy, is that the water kit is able to break down atoms in water or H2O molecule into hydrogen and water and create energy. What is more is that instead of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as is done by the traditional fuel burning such as petrol-fueled cars this car would release oxygen. If true, this is easily one of the greatest breakthroughs ever.
An energy starved Pakistan, cooking in the summer heat, is primed for a miracle and Ahmad appears to offer one going by the amount of enthusiasm he has generated in the country. According to a story by Declan Walsh of the New York Times, Pakistan’s federal ministers have lauded his invention. Scientists though have derided this as a bogus claim since under the laws of physics, thermodynamics really, it is impossible to break down the water molecule without first splitting its molecules using an external source of energy.
From what I have gathered reading various reports Ahmad’s process involves electrolysis of distilled water. In simple terms electrolysis involves passing an electrical current through water using two electrodes. The current decomposes the water into hydrogen and oxygen. The resultant hydrogen, which is twice the amount of oxygen because of H2O, powers the car and releases oxygen. That is the basic theory. However, it is well known that this process requires considerable external energy because without that electrolysis either occurs very slowly or does not occur at all. Serious scientists are troubled that Ahmad’s claim has been received with gushing uncriticality ( Uncriticality is not a word but considering I am writing about a fantastic claim, it could work). They point out that if you are going to use an external energy source, namely a battery for electrolysis, why not connect the car directly to the battery?
Walsh reports that even the country’s most revered/reviled scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, widely considered to be the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, has given his stamp of approval. “I have investigated the matter, and there is no fraud involved,” he told television anchorman Hamid Mir.
Even if one accepts Ahmad’s claim to be true, there are enormous practical problems with this enterprise. Where is so much distilled water going to come from in a country with is a serious water crisis? And if genuinely productive electrolysis requires excess external energy, what’s the point of this invention in the first place? I am not even going into how the laws of thermodynamics break down here before water molecules do. But as I said there is a great deal of stress in Pakistan these days and there is a tendency to look for miracles in an atmosphere of relentless stress.
Speaking stress (A brilliantly forced segue), it turns out, according to a study by psychologists at the University of Westminster in London, that men under stress also choose curvy women. Dr. Viren Swami, the lead author of the study of 80 men, has been quoted by The Daily Mail, as saying, “Body size appears to be an important signal of both physical and psychological maturity…
‘Physical maturity is associated with the ability to handle threatening situations and may communicate attributes such as strength, control and independence during periods when such qualities should be most desired.”
I think there is a genuine convergence waiting to happen between the Pakistani invention of a water-fueled car and the British finding of stressed out men choosing curvy women. I suspect if you have one, the other might follow.
* I have used the antiquated word moffusil deliberately here. It was largely used by the British to refer to rural, farming areas in India. Ahmad hails from such an area of Pakistan.