The Wooden Sails and, Yes, the Windmills!
Consider that Nikolaus August Otto and Eugen Langen never walked the earth. Petroleum jelly hits the cosmetic and medical markets as a tincture base while intrepid men sail the seas with their gracious but sturdy caravels and frigates. Domestic industry is powered by windmills, or mule-mills, actually a more appropriate name for them should be agricultural processing farms, not industrial mills.
With James Watt and Matthew Boulton heading the way of Nikolaus August Otto and Eugen Langen, no steam engine invention would pop up the coal craze -sort of the first global energy commodity burden- which instilled construction of heavy machinery and a world wide support network. Gasoline disrupted coal as the prime energy source, but the nuts and bolts remained the same in theory: extraction, supply lines, intermediate trading, scarcity, speculation, unreal prices, taxation and eventually greed and governments, politics and war.
Am I talking like a socialist here? Depends on what you understand by the term "socialist." Hitler and Stalin were both VERY socialist, in the truest sense of the word, also known as statist. The bloodiest wars were carried for the so-called "noblest" ideals. This is socialism after all: the will of Faust to do good, bring change, give hope! Oh, hope? Welcome to American socialism! Obama, like Fidel Castro and other precursors in the field, has a grass-roots appeal. The disgruntled! This is the mass that never thinks, just acts! Regardless of consequences. If this mass had killed James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Nikolaus August Otto, Eugen Langen and few other individuals, then socialism could never raise its hideous head. Why? Because no trains, no coal, no railways, no ships, no gasoline, no diesel, no kerosene, no cars, no airplanes, no Autobahns, no "nothing," would keep hoi polloi happily in the Roman Colosseum, hurling as the lions down there feed on Christians. Nero was a Stalin with less means of locomotion, that's about all regarding the Occupy Wall Street Movement and their noble goals.
Crude Oil Consumption is Not the Answer, Tesla Told Us So
Because of the aforementioned inventors, and several other men blessed with an open mind, Nikola Tesla got the means (mechanical energy) to play with fire (electricity). His exceptional contributions in the fields of applied sciences made Austria-Hungary (where he was born) the most advanced country of the late 19th century. Just in time before this diverse mega-state expired, Tesla moved to the US, like most inventors from Europe did, a way or another. In the Tesla legacy, the AC power grid is the most common commodity. We can't imagine life without electric power from the wall, without electric lights and without driving our own vehicle. But Tesla had an even greater legacy for us, in the works. Unfortunately he went too far with his discoveries, so far that he challenged the foundations of capitalism. Oh no, more politics?
Tesla discovered a practical device to bring FREE WIRELESS POWER from thin air, actually from cosmic rays. The principle is simple: if you rotate coils in a magnetic field then the dynamo will convert mechanical motion to electric power. The reverse works as well: feed an alternative current to the coils and the engine will spin. Everyone in the fifth grade knows this. Now think of an antenna converting EM radiation, from nature (the sun, the earth, other cosmic sources), into ENOUGH power capable to make a personal vehicle move, or to turn on the lights in your home, and so on. Tesla did that! But Edison and the corporate cabal chased him, ridiculed him, destroyed his invention, put a seal of dreaded silence on it. Why this? Imagine what Linus Torvalds did to Microsoft when licensing a better, stronger and FREE operating system for your personal computer. The industry must mill something, from resources, through the products, to the consumers. One of the most refined industries, such as the Google business model, or Facebook, converted the user, the consumer, into their central "product."
And we reached the point where communism and capitalism merge: the user, the consumer, the citizen, becomes the product, the subject, the payer. Take Henry Ford, he wasn't a socialist, yet he didn't want to develop a Tesla wireless powered car. It was all about economical growth. Mass producing and selling an automobile powered by "cosmic rays" won't benefit the company on the long run. No networks of gas stations, no oil imports headaches (no more trading profits), not many spare parts to replace, too little maintenance. The corporation needs to keep the client in fidelity check. The more it succeeds, the higher the profits. As for the state: what is there to tax? The space? Planet Jupiter? Uranus?
Today, the green-energy-no-matter-what-the-costs minds associate their projects with Tesla's name. So far, all the electric vehicles presented run on fire-prone batteries, have a plug and need a wire to feed them electrons from the grid - nothing like the Tesla wireless powered car. Eco dreamers don't go as far as questioning themselves how much coal, natural gas, oil or nuclear generated heat is wasted to place the power on the grid in the first place. More so, electric vehicles are not feasible to maintain, don't offer the same security as classical gas-powered ones and, most important, are not price competitive. This green eco clean cars industry has emerged as a fad, is supported by a socialist government, spending away taxpayer money and, consequently, is unsustainable.
The Tesla option is not an industrial one but rather a matter of craftsmanship. Build a vehicle that will last more than your house, drive it for free, no taxes, no fueling, just minor repairs now and then. Possibly by night you may not speed up like on a sunny day. Consider it's sort of land cruiser EM sail. Everything within a measure of decency.
Once a politician asked "What a professor can learn from an engineer?" And the engineer disregarded the rhetorical sarcasm and plainly replied: "Measure, Mr. Professor. Measure."