Pound of Retention

The Puzzler

TOM: I remember saying something like that way the weight of the plane would remain constant.

RAY: You did say that.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Why would you want it to remain constant you might ask yourself?

TOM: The only thing I could think of was that it must have been a weapon of some kind and you wanted the weight to remain constant because there was some kind of a guidance system which wouldn't work properly if the weight kept changing.

RAY: Buzz bombs you're thinking of? Right?

TOM: Something like that.

RAY: No. That's not it either.

TOM: Nothing like that, huh?

RAY: So, as you might guess, as the engine burned a pound of fuel, a pound of water would be saved. Right?

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: You've come to that conclusion.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And the rest would be discarded, of course. The question is why would you want to do this. That was the question and obviously you've come upon weaponry which is not it. Airplanes was not it. Our engineer Jonathan Marston came up with submarines. Ooh. That's good. Huh?

TOM: Oh, that would be good.

RAY: Except why would you want to save water? You're what? You're immersed in water.

TOM: Wait a minute. You said aeronautical.

RAY: There you go.

TOM: And submarines aren't aeronautical, John.

RAY: Well, he wasn't paying attention. He's engineering the show. Damn it. He's got a lot of other important things to do, but he got the jist of it.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: But he was close, I said.

TOM: Oh, dirigibles.

RAY: Exactly.

TOM: Of course.

RAY: At that time they had switched over from hydrogen as the levitating medium.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Which was a little dangerous.

TOM: Little dangerous.

RAY: To helium which was much safer, but very expensive.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And needless to say as you consume fuel and the craft becomes lighter and lighter --

TOM: You got to spew the stuff out.

RAY: You got to spew the stuff out, but you can't do that because it's expensive. So, you what you want to do is save some of the by-products so you keep the weight of the vehicle the same.

TOM: Oh, I love it.

RAY: Isn't it great? Dale Margie or Margy sent that in.

TOM: Actually, he's answered for me a question I've been struggling with for, uh, lo these many minutes which was the stoichiometry involved. That assumes, the whole question and answer assumes that you produce far more water.

RAY: It's 18 to 1.

TOM: Really?

RAY: Eighteen pounds of water.

TOM: No.

RAY: To every pound of... And that is the source of a greenhouse effect.

TOM: Of the greenhouse effect.

RAY: That is. We're adding water to the planet and in doing so, we're slowing down. Pretty soon the days are going to be 25 hours. We're slowing down the angular velocity of the planet.

TOM: Well, we knew that because of the billboard effect too.

RAY: Well, that too.

TOM: That's 26 hours.

RAY: Right.

TOM: Add that to it.

RAY: Yeah.

TOM: So, there's the billboard effect and the roof snow theory and --

RAY: All that. OK?

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic

Promo tile

Rocket Fuel