A Fukushima Parable

tepcocarWe had to share this. Reprinted here with permission from David Bear.


Conversation at Charlie & Joe’s Auto Repair

Mikey had to push his car across town to Charlie & Joe’s because the engine was overheating and, to make matters worse, even though he had turned the key off the engine would not stop running.  Not only that, but the transmission refused to go into any gear; it was stuck in Neutral.  So Mikey pushed his car to the shop.
Charlie:  Whatcha got there?
Mikey: The engine is overheating and it won’t stop running and it’s stuck in neutral.  Can’t do a thing with it.
Joe: Geeze, that’s a bummer.  Let’s see what we can do.
The two mechanics put the car up on the lift and take a look.
Charlie: Here’s your problem.  You’ve got a big hole in the bottom of the engine.  You can see the anti-freeze leaking out of it.
Joe: Yep.  That’s it.  You’ve got a big old leak.
Mikey: Well, what can we do?
Charlie: Well, let’s see if we can shut the thing off.
Joe: Let’s disconnect the battery.
Charlie disconnects the cables.  The engine keeps on running.  And the anti-freeze keeps on leaking out the bottom.
Joe:  Hmmm.  That didn’t work.
Charlie: Let’s cut the wires to the alternator.  That should do the trick.
Joe cuts the wires to the alternator.  The engine slows down, but keeps on running.  And the anti-freeze keeps on leaking.
Charlie:  Geeze, that shouldn’t happen.
Joe: Hey Charlie!  Look at this!  The anti-freeze has stopped leaking.
Mikey:  That’s a good thing, right?
Charlie:  Not really.  I think it means you’ve run out of anti-freeze.  If we don’t add more soon, the engine will really overheat and seize up.
Joe lowers the lift, opens the hood, removes the radiator cap and starts pouring in more anti-freeze.  But as fast as he pours it in, it leaks out the bottom, so Joe keeps on pouring more and more anti-freeze.  Soon, he runs out of anti-freeze, so instead he grabs all the cans of soda from the vending machine and starts pouring them in.  The soda also pours out the bottom just as fast as it goes in.  Soon, he runs out of soda, so he grabs a water hose, jams it into the radiator opening and opens the fawcett all the way.  The water goes in and drains out the bottom.  By now, the engine has stopped running but continues to heat up because it is really very overheated.  Charlie notices that there is an enormous puddle of water on the floor, and in the puddle there are chucks of melted engine parts, used oil, and some other things he can’t quite identify.  After a while, the floor drains are filled up with this water and it starts to overflow into the back yard of the shop.  Still, Joe keeps the water flowing into the radiator.
Mikey: Do you think it’s doing any good to keep pouring water into the radiator?
Joe: I don’t know but I don’t know what else to do.
Charlie looks underneath the car and sees that there are very few little melted chunks of engine now and mostly just oily water coming out.  It is making a real mess.
Mikey: Well, what if you stopped pouring water into the radiator?
Joe: I don’t know what will happen and I don’t want the engine to continue overheating.
Charlie: The engine isn’t there any more.  It left the building quite a while ago.
Joe: Well, I’ll just keep pouring water into the radiator because it looks like I’m doing something.
Charlie:  Say, Mikey.  We’re going to have to bill you for the cleanup of all that cruddy water out back.
Mikey:  I don’t think so.
Charlie: And also for all the water we’ve been using.
Mikey:  I really don’t think so.
Charlie:  Hey!  It’s your car.
Mikey:  Hey!  You were supposed to know how to fix it.
Charlie:  We ain’t never seen anything like this before.
Joe:  Yeah, we did.  Back in 1986 in Russia, there was this car that did the same thing.  And also back in 1979 in Pennsylvania.

Charlie:  Well, what did those guys do?

Joe: Mostly, they didn’t tell anyone.


– David Bear

image credit: collegehunkshaulingjunk.com

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