The National Science Foundation was finalizing its plans to demonstrate the science of plug-in electric vehicles at its monthly sponsored Café Scientifique when it was upstaged last Friday by the President of the United States demonstrating electric vehicles on the south lawn of the White House. Never the less plans to have an electric vehicle demonstration and a talk by David Goldstein and Charlie Garlow, president and vice-president of the Electric Vehicles Association of Washington, DC goes on as planned. The National Science Foundation sponsors the Café Scientific, which is a monthly event billed as “A Place to Eat, Drink and Talk About Science”. No science background required! Free and open to the public. The up coming March 6th Café, titled “The Shocking Science Behind Electric Cars”, is being held at the National Foundation’s HQ, 4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington VA 22230. The event begins at 6:00 with light hors d’oeuvres (buy your drink/meal) served by the Front Page Restaurant, but be there early to see the vehicles in the daylight. (March 6th mark your calendar)

The exhibit that the National Science Foundation has in play is more nostalgia then cutting edge technology. The vehicles displayed will be the 1994 Tour de Sol entrant made by MIT, the AZTEC. This vehicle is a super aerodynamic, super light weight vehicles that is assisted by solar panels. Unlike the vehicles that are made for the World Solar Challenge in Australia, the AZTEC was designed to explore the possibility of creating a commuter class of vehicle that can comfortably accommodate two passengers and travel a significant distance on single charge.

Other electric vehicles on display will be a converted Pontiac, Fiero that was made with solar panels embedded in the hood and the back deck. This vehicle was designed by Solar Electric Engineering back in the early 1990 and can travel 50 miles on standard deep cycle traction batteries. There will be a converted convertible Volkswagon Cabriolet, done by the contemporary Harvey Coach Works and EV. This vehicle demonstrates superior workmanship in current conversions in a fully functional 5 passenger vehicle.

There will be a Toyota built EV. The RAV4 EV the kind featured in the movie Who Killed the Electric Car? The RAV4 EV uses an advanced NIMH battery giving it a practical range of 130 miles before needing a charge.

ABOUT THE TOPIC: Science makes many things possible, including alternative fuels and modes of personal transportation. But are they a reasonable alternative for the average consumer? When does “alternative” become “mainstream?” Goldstein and Garlow are the President and VP of the DC area Electric Vehicle Association. They will discuss the science behind electric cars, such as fuel cells and battery technology, and some of the issues surrounding their use and acceptance. And, they will bring actual cars to touch and explore, including the MIT entry into the 1994 Tour de Sol, an electric car that is solar-powered, and an all-electric Toyota RAV4..

ABOUT THE CONCEPT: Cafe Scientifque flourished first in the U.K. (see http://www.cafescientifique.org) as a way for the public and scientists to mingle and discuss science issues in an informal setting. At least 35 cafés now exist in the U.S. The National Science Foundation initiated Café Scientifique (Arlington) and its occasional cousin in Washington D.C. in April 2006 to make science more accessible and accountable by featuring speakers whose expertise spans the sciences – and who can talk in plain English. Generally held on first Tuesdays at the Front Page. To suggest topics or speakers, complete a survey on-site. To hear about future events, see “Find Out More” at bottom. NSF cafés to date include:

The “NSF page” on the international science cafe web site:
http://www.cafescientifique.org/arlington.html

Meetup.com: http://science.meetup.com/62/ (center of page)

Washington Philosophy Circle:
http://www.autodidactproject.org/wpc/events1.html

An Arlington events blog:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/WhatsUpArlington (near bottom of the
page)

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