William & Myrtle Harris Distinguished Lectureship in Science and Civilization

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
4:00pm to 6:00pm
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Beckman Institute Auditorium
Cars and Civilization
Jesse H. Ausubel, Rockefeller University; Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Vienna University of Technology and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis,

Cars symbolize human mobility.   Four basic instincts from the evolutionary story of humanity determine mobility across all modes from walking to jet travel. The first travel instinct is to stick to the budget of time of about one hour per day.  The second instinct is to return to the lair in the evening.  The third instinct is to spend within the travel-money budget of about 12–15% of disposable income.  The fourth instinct is to maximize range, and thus access to resources, within the limits imposed by time and money.

These basic instincts permit us to make sense of, and model with simplicity, the complex use that humans make of systems of transport.  In our talks we will interpret the world of movement and the geography which forms its substrate, with particular reference to cars, past and future transport systems.   We will show the lunacy of popular ideas such as car pooling but also the potential for a beautiful transport system emitting zero pollutants and little noise, while people on average range hundreds of kilometers daily in a system of "green" mobility and comfort.

For more information, please contact Fran Tise by phone at Ext. 3609 or by email at ftise@hss.caltech.edu.