The Wagon of a Thousand Chi

Laotzu was by himself at his house in the woods studying the ways of chi. A chi of power is capable of raising a tod weight (which in ordinary terms is some 27 pounds) at unit speed (a billionth of the speed of light, or about a foot per second). By centering his awareness, and by means of a pulley, the sage could cause a large stone weighing one tod to rise into the air at the unit speed of one fingerwidth per trice. In this way Laotzu caused a chi of power to flow into the stone.

Suddenly the sage heard many explosions coming from across the lake and noticed a cloud of black smoke rising from the shore. He lowered the stone he had been raising and assumed an attitude of repose. Soon Confucius appeared driving an automobile along the shore of the lake with the three dervishes in the back seat.

I am not sure about the make of car. The name sounded like Yoga, or perhaps Yogurt. In any case the car belonged to the three dervishes, since Serbian gypsies had traded it to them for their three donkeys. The dervishes did not know how to drive—indeed they experienced difficulty even getting the Yogurt started—and Confucius had offered to be their driver.

"This wagon has a thousand chi of power," declared Confucius. Indeed ten chi (360 watts) is about half a horsepower, making a thousand chi equivalent to fifty horsepower. Since the Yogurt's engine was barely able to develop fifty horsepower, the car's power was equal, just as Confucius said, to a thousand chi.


Copyright © 2002 Leonard Cottrell. All rights reserved.
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