Lemon power

One reason there will always be an England is that it contains a man like Anthony Ashill, who has been running a small electric motor for five months on the energy derived from one lemon -- and a publication like the Times of London, which gives front-page coverage to such accomplishments with just as much gravity as they deserve.

Engineers are skeptical of Mr. Ashill's claims, according to the Times. By their rough calculation, "to power three small electric vehicles would swallow the entire citrus production of Israel." Last year Britain "imported 43,223 tonnes of lemons, enough to power 40 light bulbs, or four electric fires. . . ." Thus lemon power may seem an uneconomic candidate for becoming one of the alternative sources of energy that Britain must develop in the next decade. But , as the Times points out, "it is a politically advantageous energy source, most of our supplies coming from the relative stability of the EEC [European Economic Community] or Spain."

None of such analysis would be offered to the world if it were not for the Mr. Ashills of England and their ineffable ability to seize on matters few would think of seizing on. Who else would imagine getting a five-month charge out of a lemon?

Well, it may not be too remote from the activities of certain citizens on the US side of the Atlantic, who have hooked up the tiny electrical impulses of the philodendron to provide an alternate source of music if not of power. Perhaps they are one reason there will always be an America, too.

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