November 15th, 2010


Did I Just Hear That Toyota Ad Right?

TV Ad For The Toyota Prius

Dad driving a kid around. Kid anxious to get "somewhere". Dad is explaining about Toyota's Synergy Drive System, essentially describing the dynamic braking system in which the kinetic energy of the moving car can be used to turn the electric motor into a generator and recharge the battery. So far that's all true -- it's Physics. And it's been used in other industries, oh such as railroads, for most of a century.

But then... the Dad in the commercial starts talking about maybe using the Synergy Drive is other areas. Like the roller coaster in the background. (Now we know where the kid wants to go.) And he comes up with the corker: "We could make the first self-sufficient amusement park." Or something like that. I've only seen the commercial once.

Excuse Me?

What in the world did they mean by "self-sufficient"? This sounds like they expect to get 100% of the kinetic energy of that roller coaster back from the Synergy Drive. Um, ever heard of the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Ever heard of a Perpetual Motion Machine? Or that the U.S. Patent Office refuses to issue a patent for such a device, on the grounds that it violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

Are you people crazy?

Okay, so it's just a damned commercial. No one thinks this Dad really is some engineer or scientist. And Lord knows that the people writing the ad copy know much about Physics. But this is or should well be embarrassing to Toyota's engineers. Without. Question.

Why Carp About Yet Another Ad?

Because this stuff matters. We have dumbed down our society, allowing them to graduate from middle school, high school, college and even graduate and professional schools, such that actors, directors, ad agencies, advertising departments of major international corporations -- don't know the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Waste. Try as hard as you can to recover all the energy and reuse it, you can't. You have to waste some to recover some. At best. There is no alternative. It's Physics.

And Toyota is promoting their Synergy Drive as the engine of a perpetual motion machine? It's either out-and-out fraud or stupidity. Take your pick.

Assuming, of course, that I heard this commercial I've seen only once right. (grin)

Dr. Phil