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Fenris Wheel Train

Ahem.... release the hounds...
  [vote for,

Normal trains, albeit shorter than usual, towed by massive teams of seasoned sled and/or draft dogs. I wonder if this could be operated at less expense than a normal train (ie, are the dogs more food efficient than the engines are fuel efficient?) but it would provide gainful employment for working dogs who will soon be out of work in places that are warming with climate change, produce zero emissions, making our air cleaner, and be easier to stop since they wont be going much faster than 25 MPH.
21 Quest, May 09 2012

Free Cat http://www.google.c...1t:429,r:3,s:0,i:76
[UnaBubba, May 15 2012]


       or Fenrir wheel train, like a very big hamster wheel..."the train is approaching the last station, Ragnarok, all change all change.."
not_morrison_rm, May 09 2012


       Newfoundlands are well known for their prodigious abilities as both draft dogs and self-propelled kitchen waste disposal systems.
8th of 7, May 09 2012

       As are Swiss Mountain Dogs. I can personally attest to their pulling prowess, as I am currently in the process of attempting to leash train one.
21 Quest, May 09 2012

       I had seasoned dog and a mug of draft in asia once.
AusCan531, May 09 2012

       To boggan or not to boggan?
UnaBubba, May 09 2012

       // are the dogs more food efficient than the engines are fuel efficient? //


       That's why we use engines.
Alterother, May 09 2012

       I thought we used engines because they're faster and smaller.
21 Quest, May 09 2012

       Probably. Though it's far more romantic to use dogs... or sheep, if you're Welsh or from New Zealand.
UnaBubba, May 09 2012

       [21Quest], some years ago I read that the energy-conversion efficiency of muscle tissue is about 45%. That's definitely better than most types of engines that we build (well, Stirling engines can also be 45% efficient).
Vernon, May 09 2012

       Faster, smaller, more efficient. Energy conversion isn't the whole equation; also consider application and stamina. You'll have to look hard to find a source of motive power more efficient and versatile than petroleum. Dogs don't even come close.
Alterother, May 09 2012

       What's the caloric content of a dog?
UnaBubba, May 09 2012

       From Wikipedia (Muscle): "The efficiency of human muscle has been measured (in the context of rowing and cycling) at 18% to 26%. The efficiency is defined as the ratio of mechanical work output to the total metabolic cost, as can be calculated from oxygen consumption. This low efficiency is the result of about 40% efficiency of generating ATP from food energy, losses in converting energy from ATP into mechanical work inside the muscle, and mechanical losses inside the body."

       So the efficiency of converting ATP to work could be about 0.45, but food to work is far less efficient than that overall.
spidermother, May 09 2012

       Well, that's human muscle. What about canine muscle?
21 Quest, May 09 2012

       Ask Snoop Dog.
UnaBubba, May 09 2012

       It's always easier to find data for humans than for any other species; but the efficiencies of metabolic processes tend to be fairly similar for all mammals, so dogs should be in about the same range. The overall conversion efficiency of useful work to food energy will be somewhat lower still, once you account for the basal metabolic processes.
spidermother, May 10 2012

       The best thing about dogs is that each one will work like a dog.
UnaBubba, May 10 2012

       Stirling engines can also be 45% efficient)

       I'm not even going to mention the 100% efficient Sterling Engine..

       Basically, the reason we have engines is the same reason that prompted people to invent the bicycles. Engines are more reliable than animals and there's nowhere to store a horse in the average city dweller's residence. It's not progress, per se, more a lack of storage space.
not_morrison_rm, May 10 2012

       With horses, there is also the ... "pollution" ... issue.
8th of 7, May 10 2012

       There's also nowhere to store a train engine in a typical city dweller's residence, so no loss there. I'm not talking about replacing all vehicles with dogs... just some of the trains. Regarding food efficiency, I'm certain the percentage could be increased with a specialized diet.
21 Quest, May 10 2012

       Overall this could be more efficient I think. Grow the dogfood next to the track and they can eat on the go. Compared to the trouble it takes to get the fossil fuel to a usable state, My money is on the dogs.
zeno, May 10 2012

       //Regarding food efficiency, I'm certain the percentage could be increased with a specialized diet.//

       I'm afraid not. Those figures relate mechanical work to respiration as measured by oxygen consumption, and therefore effectively exclude energy consumed by digestion (which mainly happens outside the exercise period). Poor quality food could make the overall efficiency even worse, but those are already best case figures.

       To use an analogy, it's like directly measuring the fuel efficiency of a car using oxygen sensors and a dynamometer, then hoping to improve that efficiency by starting with higher quality crude oil at the refinery.

       Of course, efficiency is not always the only consideration. If the dogs were, say, scavenging for road-kill that would otherwise go to waste, at their own expense, then they would effectively be supplying free work.
spidermother, May 10 2012

       // scavenging for road-kill that would otherwise go to waste //

       It doesn't go to 'waste' - if you implemented this, [Alterother] would starve …

       Then again, there might also be a downside…
8th of 7, May 10 2012

       By careful use of grammar - namely, //roadkill that would otherwise go to waste// rather than //roadkill, which would otherwise go to waste// - I imply a condition, not a fact. A lunch is not free that is ripp'd from the mouth of the needy.
spidermother, May 10 2012

       I can see the scam now.
"For the low low price of $99.95 we Absolutely Positively guarantee to train your dog in a single day or your money back."

       That reminds me of an episode of John Stossell's old consumer reports show where a scammer was selling a 'solar-powered clothes dryer' for several hundred dollars. What the dupes who ordered one of these things got was a vinyl clothesline.
21 Quest, May 10 2012

       Another small detail I might add is that a fully-loaded freight train cannot be controlled by mechanical braking alone. Without the dynamic braking ability of a locomotive, your 10,000-dog team would get, er, overrun.

       Personal to [8th]: don't knock it 'til you try it. There's good eating to be had if you get there while it's still fresh.
Alterother, May 10 2012

       'specially if your open-minded over the definition of "fresh"
AusCan531, May 10 2012

       By 'fresh', I meant 'only run over by three or four pulp trucks', and I was kidding. I've never eaten roadkill, but I will skin it if the pelt is in reasonable condition. Waste not, etc.
Alterother, May 10 2012

       I've eaten roadkill rabbits. Because of their size, they often get struck on the head, and instantly killed, with no damage to the torso.
spidermother, May 10 2012

       Roadkill rabbits... I'll post you a few. I ran over three of them this morning.
UnaBubba, May 10 2012

       Roadkill ribbits aka "Cane Toads"
AusCan531, May 10 2012

       No, these were rabbits. There were a lot of them on the road into town this morning, just before 5am. I also saw two foxes, probably chasing the rabbits.

       Cane toads have slowed down, with the cooler weather. I've only seen one this week.
UnaBubba, May 10 2012

       Roadkill in my neck of the woods consists of deer, cat, squirrel, marmot, cat, porcupine, occasionally a few baby quail, and cat. Did I mention cat? Lots of dead cats in this town.
21 Quest, May 15 2012

       I got a great moose hide a couple of years ago. Best roadkill score ever--as a bonus, I wasn't the one who hit it!
Alterother, May 15 2012

       //Lots of dead cats in this town.//

       Its not like they can just decide to leave.
AusCan531, May 15 2012

       Dead cat = Free cat. <link>
UnaBubba, May 15 2012


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