Before you can make an electric motorcycle, you have to know how to make the magnets…

So one of the things that I find as a good break from work is to refresh my thinking on the basics of physics. I know… kinda geeky. But when you go back to the roots of science sometimes it brings up a solution to today’s needs for MORE POWER and less waste. It can require a radical way of thinking about a problem that we thought was already solved. And in a world of possibilities derived from new electric vehicle systems I like to get to those roots whenever we can.

Of all the TV Scientists that came across the airwaves, I think Prof. Julius Sumner Miller was the most intriguing of shows. His simple setups are filled with the basic forms of actual demonstrations that are rarely used in this digitally created world around us. Here in episode 40, I noticed his first demonstrations of how to make a magnet are something humans could have easily understood at the same time as fire and its’ application to the world around them.

Now, thousands of years later we are contemplating a move away from the primal energy of controlled fire for our mobility power source, and a new adoption of the more advanced of our human tools: Magnets and Stored Energy. And much like the Professor mentions as an aside… It feels a bit like witchcraft, or magic. As a society, we have been using combustion of wood, or coal, or animal or petroleum oils for energy for so long that anything else feels — not quite human. That long-term coexistence with fire is what we feel when a car with a lot of big cylinders comes cruising by at a slow idle and then opens up the throttle for a drink of pure power. We connect to that, in a way we often can’t explain.

But when you think about the magnets and batteries and motors and the millions of digital switches on a microchip that are needed to push a motorcycle down the road on electrons, I hope you’ll think of Professor Julius Sumner Miller and his geeky knowledge of magnetism and all things within the Science of Physics. The new way of cruising around is just as human as a campfire.

Just, without the smoke in your face.