What is the cause of the mysterious phenomenon that the car engine does not start only when you buy vanilla ice cream?
University of Waterloo , as he realized that 'what is visibly obvious is not always the solution, and no matter how strange it may seem, the facts are just facts.' Professor Stephen Mann introduces a mysterious episode.
Studying computer science at the
Car allergic to vanilla ice cream
One day, the Pontiac Development Department of the automobile manufacturer General Motors (GM) received the following complaints.
'This is the second time I've complained to GM. It sounds weird to me, so I'm not going to blame you for not replying. Our family always has ice cream for dessert after dinner. I'm eating. Every night, after a meal, the whole family votes on what kind of ice cream to eat and I drive to the store, but recently I've had problems since I bought a new Pontiac. Only when I bought vanilla ice cream, the car doesn't move when I go back to the parking lot of the store and turn the key. If it's another taste, the car works fine. When Pontiac bought vanilla ice cream What does it mean that it just doesn't work? '
Pontiac's development department was skeptical of the letter, but sent an engineer to the man who complained to check it. The engineer actually went to the ice cream shop with the man and bought vanilla ice cream. And when I returned to the parking lot and turned the key of the car, the car did not really start.
The engineer stayed at the man's house for several nights and tried to find out the cause. The car started without any problems when I bought chocolate-flavored and strawberry-flavored ice cream, but for some reason I failed to start the car only when I bought vanilla flavor.
Of course, GM engineers didn't think the car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. The engineer took notes of various data such as the time to go to buy ice cream, the type of gasoline, and the time to drive, and conducted an investigation. As a result, it turned out that only when purchasing vanilla ice cream, the time from stopping the car to returning was shorter than when purchasing other flavors.
Actually, at the ice cream shop where men went, ice cream was stored in the case at the back of the shop, but only vanilla ice cream, which was the most popular flavor, was in the case at the store. As a result, vanilla ice cream was served to customers much faster than other flavors.
The cause of the engine start failure that the engineer found was the ' vapor lock phenomenon '. The vapor lock phenomenon is a phenomenon in which the flow of liquid is impaired by the bubbles generated by heating the liquid. The generation of air bubbles in highly volatile gasoline may cause a vapor lock phenomenon, which may cause the engine to stop working.
And it turned out that the difference in the time to serve ice cream made a difference in this vapor lock phenomenon. In the case of chocolate flavor and strawberry flavor, it takes time to serve, so the gasoline was cooled during that time, but vanilla ice cream was served before the gasoline was sufficiently cooled, so the vapor lock phenomenon occurred. It was closed.
Professor Mann states that the lesson of this episode is that 'even problems that seem far from common sense sometimes reflect the truth.'