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The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy
About the Title of the Book

Last updated 2006.11.12


I have been surprised by how many questions I have received about the title of the book and its meaning. So here is an explanation for those looking for deeper meanings.

The title, The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy, is a play on words on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes. Read the story for yourself, so you don't have to take my word for the following interpretations. (English translation of story)

The premise is a fairy tale, therefore there is no actual emperor. Those that feel the United States is acting like an imperial power (see American Empire), or that the current President is taking on powers reminiscent of kings of old have drawn their own conclusions.

The meaning I was seeking was the parallel between all the fine words praising the never-quite-real hydrogen economy today, and the non-existent clothes of the fairy tale. I think there is also a parallel between the idea that those that would not praise the non-existent clothes in the fairy tale would be deemed unfit for their office, and the inability to get research grants in the energy field today unless one swears fealty to the hydrogen mirage. Perhaps this is why it has taken someone who makes their livelihood outside the field to raise the issue in a public way.

No doubt someone will also draw an unflattering parallel between the child of the fairy tale and me in the current scenario. So be it.

“Out of the unconscious lips of babes and sucklings are we satirized.”
Mark Twain "Which Was the Dream?"

Or to bring us back to the original fairy tale, this snippet from a Hans Christian Andersen biography:
http://www.europe-cities.com/copenhagen/andersen-biography.aspx

“We come to The Emperor's New Clothes, published in 1837. It is about a vain ruler, who cared only about his clothes. He was told by two crooks that they could make the most beautiful clothes from a special, invisible material. The emperor sent two subjects to inspect the cloth, but they were too scared to admit they couldn't see it. He had his clothes made from the non-existent cloth and one day paraded through the town. The townfolk naturally applauded the new outfit. Finally, a child noted that the emperor had nothing on. The whole crowd began to shout that he had nothing on. The emperor understood that they were right, but did not admit it.
“After this tale was popularized, the expression "The emperor has no clothes" came to symbolize shallow, superficial pretensions. The notion of "truth from the mouths of babes" is also employed here. “


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