Wally E. Rippel

A Brief Account of My Adventure with Electric Vehicles

This story is a collaboration from Wally E. Rippel with Mentor InSight, Inc. – September 1, 2014.

In September 1963, I became a freshman at Caltech—with the goal of becoming a physicist. I already had a “scientific” hypothesis—that Christianity was for second-rate intellects. In the coming months, I came to know a number of fellow students who held the same view. Problem was that with the start of my sophomore year, I met some other students—considerably smarter than I—who in fact were Christians. I was forced to abandon my hypothesis and in the process I too became a Christian. There were no flashes of light or anything exceptional—except maybe what happened about two weeks later in history class.

Robert Woodberry’s sophomore history class was small and informal. That day, the smog was horrible as we were in deep discussion about the American Civil War. We focused on how the Civil War had transformed America from a federation into a nation. Motivated by the bad air and watering eyes, the discussion digressed some and we started to explore potential roles of the federal government in connection to air pollution. We also discussed roles for state and local governments, roles for the car companies, and potential roles within academia for dealing with this problem. It was all fairly casual. The pronoun they was used loosely and frequently used in connection with several entities. “They” (the car companies) should do X, and “they” (the federal government) should do Y, while some other “they” should be doing Z. It was a bit idealistic, if not confusing. One classmate, Neil Wright, had been silent. We all knew he was smart and would have some insights. Finally, Neil spoke—but only three words. “We are they!”

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