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Treebeard's Stumper Answer
14 March 2003

Gas Mileage, with Seasoning

With gas prices well above $2.00 per gallon, and global warming and war in the news, it's the right time to think about the gas mileage of our cars. I bought my Ford Ranger truck new in August 2001, and I've been keeping records of my gas usage ever since by recording gallons and miles every time I fill the tank. I finally got around to doing all the math, and I noticed that the time of year makes a small but real difference in my gas mileage. I'm going to keep the answer secret for this stumper. Do we get better gas mileage in summer or winter seasons, and why?

Local gas prices are up, and I still see many large cars and trucks at our rural school. I've noticed that my gas mileage varies significantly with the seasons. It's nearly the Vernal Equinox midway between winter and summer, so is my gas mileage getting better or worse as the seasons change? If you don't know how to figure your mileage, then that's another question. See my Go The Extra Mile (11 May 2001) for another stumper about improving gas mileage.

It is prudent to expect the unexpected. We did a science experiment flipping coins 100 times. Our average longest run was 8 heads or tails in a row. Three groups had runs of 15, but I'm suspicious of lazy flips. I asked a few kids to fake the results, and their average run was only 5. The lesson is that even with random events, we should expect to be surprised. The Oakland A's won 20 straight games last year, and we had record rainfall and drought in the last decade in Santa Barbara. This raises interesting questions about coincidence, risk, fame, and trends!


I'm out of time (again) because of family, school, and war. I'll get back to this as soon as I can.

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