A Bang-Up Job

Dec 14, 2009

RAY: This was submitted recently, well in 1927, by Roger Darby and I didn't have to change this too much. Now I want you to pay attention, because there are lots of hints here and if you don't pay attention, you're going to miss the important ones.

'I live in rural Illinois, way out in the sticks. I was driving home from work one very rainy day and I saw a familiar car coming toward me in the oncoming lane. I recognized this vehicle because I had seen it many times around the neighborhood and it was the same make, model and color, and I'm pretty sure it was the same year, as the car I was driving.

'Suddenly, without notice, his car started hydroplaning and it was headed directly into my lane. Unable to avoid the collision, we hit headlight to headlight. That is my driver's side headlight hit the left side headlight of his car. We were both wearing our seatbelts and our airbags deployed. But I was injured to the point of being hospitalized but the other driver walked away from the accident pretty much uninjured. The damage was almost identical to our cars. What was the major reason for our differences in injuries?

'Now there should be some conditions here. First, I didn't have any pre-existing conditions; I wasn't impaired in any way. We're both about the same height and weight. I wasn't carrying a hot cup of coffee between my thighs that spilled and required hospitalization, and it made no difference what speed we were going at because the combined speeds are the combined speeds. If I was going 20 and he was going 80, it was like we were both going 50, or if I was parked and he hit me at 100. So the question is, what's the major reason for the differences in our injuries?'
RAY: Here's the answer. What did I figure out in that half-hour?

TOM: You figured out the flashlight is going to work.

RAY: No. I figured out why it didn't work.

TOM: Oh!

RAY: Because this light bulb is not a light bulb, it's an LED or a light emitting diode, and like all diodes the electricity can only flow in one direction. So it has to be hooked up correctly, and I by chance hooked up one wire to one end of the battery and one wire to the other end of the battery, and it was reversed.

TOM: Right.

RAY: When I fished it out of the trash and I tried it again, it still didn't work because I'd done the same thing, how would I know? And when I reversed the two wires the thing lit up. Pretty cute, eh?

TOM: It is very cute.

RAY: So who's our winner?

TOM: Our winner this week is Scott Treadwell, from Advance, North Carolina. For having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Scott gets a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at Car Talk.com with which he can get a set of our enormously popular Car Talk Reusable Shopping Bags.

RAY: Congratulations Scott!

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