Another headline about a fiery Tesla crash has people wondering if those lithium ion batteries are safe.
“A battery powered vehicle having a fire incident is newsworthy. A gasoline powered vehicle having a fire is newsworthy only if it stops traffic,” said Steven Risser, senior research leader at Battelle, a nonprofit research and development firm, and one of the leading experts on the risk of fires in electric vehicles.
Here’s the answers to questions about the risk of electric car fires:
Are electric cars more likely to catch fire?
The simple answer is probably not. Chances are they might even be safer, though it’s tough to say that definitively.
“The propensity and severity of fires and explosions from … lithium ion battery systems are anticipated to be somewhat comparable to or perhaps slightly less than those for gasoline or diesel vehicular fuels,” according to the results of an in-depth investigation into the relative fire risks of the two types of vehicles conducted by Battelle for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last fall.
About 174,000 vehicle fires were reported in the United States in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the National Fire Protection Association. Virtually all of those fires involved gasoline powered cars. That works out to about one every three minutes.
Tesla claims that gasoline powered cars are about 11 times more likely to catch fire than a Tesla. It says the best comparison is fires per 1 billion miles driven. It says the 300,000 Teslas on the road have been driven a total of 7.5 billion miles, and about 40 fires have been reported. That works out to five fires for every billion miles traveled, compared to a rate of 55 fires per billion miles traveled in gasoline cars.
But Risser said still there’s not enough data to make valid comparisons at this point.
How do lithium ion batteries powering electric vehicles catch fire?
There have been some other high profile fire problems involving lithium ion batteries in other uses – in cell phones, in laptops and even in Boeing passenger jets. But so far the fires involving electric vehicles have been caused by some kind of crash or other damage to the battery while driving.
“Tesla’s battery packs rarely incur serious damage, and when they have, the accident was highly unusual or severe,” said Tesla’s statement.
What happens with a lithium ion battery fire is typically a short circuit within one or more of the battery’s cells, which generates heat. The heat can then ignite the chemicals within the battery. That can cause problems in the adjoining cells and lead to the condition known as “thermal runaway” in which the fire spreads and builds. That’s apparently what happened in a fatal Tesla crash in Switzerland last week.
How else is a lithium ion battery fire different from a gasoline fire?
The biggest difference is the time it takes to ignite. Gasoline fires start almost immediately when gasoline comes in contact with a spark or flame, and spreads rapidly. Battery fires typically take some time to achieve the heat necessary to start the fire.
In some instances, that delay is very good news. It can let the occupants of a car involved in a crash to get out of the vehicle before the fire starts. But it can pose its own problems. Sometimes a battery can be damaged, perhaps by the car running over some debris, and the driver might not be aware of the damage. And then a fire can start well after the initial incident. That could theoretically cause a fire after the car is parked in a garage.
And even when the battery fire is obvious, Tesla warns first responders that it can take 24 hours for a battery fire to be fully extinguished.
Can the fire risk for electric cars be reduced?
Yes. And Risser and others say that is likely to happen.
Research is taking place for new materials that might not only make batteries lighter and more efficient, but could possibly make them safer. “Gasoline is a very risky material. We have had 130 years of designs and experience to make a gasoline powered vehicle as safe as possible. We’re still at early stages of understanding how to make lithium ion batteries safe,” he said.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: the movie’s 2 post-credits scenes, explained
This post contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Do not read any further if you don’t want to be spoiled!
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sony’s animated Spider-Man feature film, has two post-credits scenes. The first is a tribute to Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man who died in November, and a thank-you to Lee’s Spider-Man co-creator, Steve Ditko. The second is a jokey callback to the dimension-jumping aspect of the movie.
Over the past several years, mid- and post-credits scenes have become a superhero movie tradition. Though Marvel is most famous for them, they’re something that fans look forward to every time a major movie studio — Marvel, Fox, Sony, Warner Bros. — puts out a superhero-centric release. Sometimes, they contain huge reveals that hint at future films (see: Thanos intercepting Thor’s Asgardian spaceship at the end of Thor: Ragnarok, which nodded toward Avengers: Infinity War).
But with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, things are a little different. The movie isn’t currently connected to Sony’s Spider-Man and Venom superhero properties or cinematic universe (though Sony could certainly change this in the future). So its two post-credits scenes are a bit more specific to the movie and to the history of Spider-Man than usual.
1) The first scene is a tribute to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
The first Into the Spider-Verse credits scene is actually more of a title card. It contains a quote from Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man who died on November 12 after a long and legendary career in the comics industry.
“That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed, without a doubt, a real superhero,” the quote reads.
The meaning of the quote — which comes from an interview Lee once gave about heroism — is self-explanatory. But in light of his death, it’s a touching reminder of how this man who was responsible for changing so many people’s lives saw goodness in the world. The scene ends with a thank-you addressed to both Lee and his Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko.
2) The second scene introduces us to Oscar Isaac’s Spider-Man 2099
The main plot of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is about the existence of multiple universes that are parallel to the one the movie is primarily set in, but which all differ from one another to varying degrees.
For example, in Miles Morales’s universe, Morales gets bitten by a special spider that somehow gives him powers, and then watches Peter Parker, a.k.a., Spider-Man die — a shift from what happens in Spider-Gwen’s universe, where she gets bitten by a distinctly radioactive spider, ends up with powers, and then watches Peter Parker die. The differences are primarily in who gets to be a Spider-Person and how their powers came to be.
But one thing remains constant throughout every universe the film reveals: There are heroic spider-people in each one, hence the title of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And in the second credits scene, we are introduced to another version of Spider-Man who didn’t appear in the movie.
After an introductory caption that reads, “Meanwhile, in Nueva York…” we see a woman explaining the dimension-jumping events of the movie we just watched to a mysterious figure. The figure is ultimately revealed to be a character from the Spider-Man comic books known as Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099. Voiced here by Oscar Isaac (Star Wars), Miguel is an established spider-person who has had adventures in the 2D world of comic books, but not in any of Spider-Man’s cinematic, live-action adaptations.
Miguel reveals that he’s going on his own dimension-jumping adventure to “the beginning”; it’s then we learn that Miguel means the 1967 Spider-Man animated TV series, specifically an episode called “Double Identity,” the origin of the “Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man” meme:
We see Miguel insert himself into the scene, and hijinks ensue. It’s a playful nod to Spider-Man’s pop culture dominance and a clever, self-aware joke that pays off for an audience that is familiar with the history of Spider-Man and Miguel, while also appealing to anyone who’s seen the meme or who might laugh at two Spider-Men fighting over which of them is the real Spider-Man.
Isaac is a well-known actor, and while his presence as the voice of Miguel could indicate that Sony has bigger plans for the character, nothing has been announced yet. With that said, perhaps Miguel will join the rest of the Spider-Gang for the Into the Spider-Verse sequel that’s already in development.
Nancy Wilson, Grammy-winning jazz singer, dies at 81
Nancy Wilson, the Grammy-winning “song stylist” and torch singer whose polished pop-jazz vocals made her a platinum artist and top concert performer, has died.
Wilson, who retired from touring in 2011, died after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown, a California desert community near Joshua Tree National Park, her manager and publicist Devra Hall Levy told The Associated Press late Thursday night. She was 81.
Influenced by Dinah Washington, Nat “King” Cole and other stars, Wilson covered everything from jazz standards to “Little Green Apples” and in the 1960s alone released eight albums that reached the top 20 on Billboard’s pop charts. Sometimes elegant and understated, or quick and conversational and a little naughty, she was best known for such songs as her breakthrough “Guess Who I Saw Today” and the 1964 hit ”(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” which drew upon Broadway, pop and jazz.
She resisted being identified with a single category, especially jazz, and referred to herself as a “song stylist.”
“The music that I sing today was the pop music of the 1960s,” she told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2010. “I just never considered myself a jazz singer. I do not do runs and — you know. I take a lyric and make it mine. I consider myself an interpreter of the lyric.”
Wilson’s dozens of albums included a celebrated collaboration with Cannonball Adderley, “Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley,” a small group setting which understandably could be called jazz; “Broadway — My Way”; “Lush Life”; and “The Nancy Wilson Show!” a best-selling concert recording. “How Glad I Am” brought her a Grammy in 1965 for best R&B performance, and she later won Grammys for best jazz vocal album in 2005 for the intimate “R.S.V.P (Rare Songs, Very Personal)” and in 2007 for “Turned to Blue,” a showcase for the relaxed, confident swing she mastered later in life. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a “Jazz Masters Fellowship” in 2004 for lifetime achievement.
Wilson also had a busy career on television, film and radio, her credits including “Hawaii Five-O,” ″Police Story,” the Robert Townshend spoof “Meteor Man” and years hosting NPR’s “Jazz Profiles” series. Active in the civil rights movement, including the Selma march of 1965, she received an NAACP Image Award in 1998.
Wilson was married twice — to drummer Kenny Dennis, whom she divorced in 1970; and to Wiley Burton, who died in 2008. She had three children.
Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, the eldest of six children of an iron foundry worker and a maid, Wilson sang in church as a girl and by age 4 had decided on her profession. She was in high school when she won a talent contest sponsored by a local TV station and was given her own program. After briefly attending Central State College, she toured Ohio with the Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Big Band and met such jazz artists as Adderley, who encouraged her to move to New York.
She soon had a regular gig at The Blue Morocco, and got in touch with Adderley’s manager, John Levy.
“He set up a session to record a demo,” Wilson later observed during an interview for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “Ray Bryant and I went in and recorded ‘Guess Who I Saw Today,’ ‘Sometimes I’m Happy,’ and two other songs. We sent them to Capitol and within five days the phone rang. Within six weeks I had all the things I wanted.”
Her first album, “Like in Love!”, came out in 1959, and she had her greatest commercial success over the following decade despite contending at times with the latest sounds. Gamely, she covered Beatles songs (“And I Love Her” became “And I Love Him”), Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and “Son of a Preacher Man,” on which she strained to mimic Aretha Franklin’s fiery gospel style. She was so outside the contemporary music scene an interviewer once stumped her by asking about Cream, the million-selling rock trio featuring Eric Clapton.
“It took me years to know what that question was about. Remember, I was constantly working or I was traveling to perform. The ’60s for me were about work,” she told JazzWax in 2010.
In the 1970s and after, she continued to record regularly and perform worldwide, at home in nightclubs, concert halls and open-air settings, singing at jazz festivals from Newport to Tokyo. She officially stopped touring with a show at Ohio University in September 2011, but had been thinking of stepping back for years. When she turned 70, in 2007, she was guest of honor at a Carnegie Hall gala. The show ended with Wilson performing such favorites as “Never, Never Will I Marry,” ″I Can’t Make You Love Me” and the Gershwin classic “How Long Has This Been Going On?”
“After 55 years of doing what I do professionally, I have a right to ask how long? I’m trying to retire, people,” she said with a laugh before leaving the stage to a standing ovation.
In accordance with Wilson’s wishes, there will be no funeral service, a family statement said. A celebration of her life will be held most likely in February, the month of her birth.
She is survived by her son, Kacy Dennis; daughters Samantha Burton and Sheryl Burton; sisters Karen Davis and Brenda Vann and five grandchildren.
Miss USA Under Fire for Mocking Miss Cambodia and Miss Vietnam During Miss Universe Competition
Sarah Rose Summers, Miss USA 2018, apologized via her Instagram account on Thursday after a video went viral of her making controversial comments about Nat Rern, Miss Cambodia and H’Hen Nie, Miss Vietnam for not speaking English during the Miss Universe competition.
Summers was called out online for mocking the two other contestants on Instagram Live; of Miss Vietnam, she commented: “She’s so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she goes…” before going on to mime nodding and smiling. Of Rern, she said, “Poor Cambodia” while talking about her not speaking English.
The backlash was swift, and included the popular Instagram account Diet Prada.
In her caption, Summers said that she had spoken about the issue with both Rern and Nie and apologized for her comments.
“@MissUniverse is an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other’s cultures, life experiences, and views. We all come from different backgrounds and can grow alongside one another,” Summers wrote. “In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize. My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another. I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H’Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me.”
The Miss Universe pageant airs on Dec. 16 from Thailand.
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